HISTORY AND ARCHITECTURE OF HENDERSONVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
Mattson, Alexander and Associates, Inc.
Charlotte, North Carolina
December 1, 1996
Early Settlement to the Civil War
In common with other western North Carolina mountain counties, the area that is now Henderson County developed slowly through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Although settlers from the mid-Atlantic region had streamed southward into the Piedmont during the colonial period, migration lagged well behind in the western reaches of North Carolina. Early settlement was restricted by the presence of the Cherokee Indians, while the rugged, mountainous terrain and lack of adequate transportation to eastern markets hindered growth well into the nineteenth century (Blackmun 1977: 268-272).
Until the 1785 Treaty of Hopewell, present-day Henderson County was part of Cherokee Indian territory. Although the Cherokee towns in North Carolina were situated to the west, along the Hiwassee, little Tennessee, and Tuckasegee rivers, Cherokee tribal lands extended eastward beyond the foothills of the Blue Ridge. After the signing of the Treaty of Hopewell, the Cherokees were forced to relinquish eastern lands. The new eastern boundary of tribal lands cut through present-day Henderson County and legally opened the northeastern corner of the county to white occupation. Despite the legal boundaries, families of newcomers migrated beyond the treaty line into arable bottom lands and high hollows, and by the end of the century, whites controlled all of present-day Henderson County. Among the new inhabitants were veterans of the American Revolution who received land grants to encourage settlement and those who came from adjoining areas in both North and South Carolina (Perdue 1979; Fain 1980: 5-11, 15-20; Bowers and Fullington 1988: E 1-E2).
Settlers encountered a landscape distinguished by its wide and fertile river valleys, formed by the French Broad River and myriad tributaries. Henderson County is located at the southeastern edge of the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, and the central section (elevation approximately 2,200 feet) occupies one of the broadest valleys in western North Carolina. Despite this relatively accessible terrain, the absence of navigable waterways and the poor condition of overland routes restricted long-distance trade and population growth (Sharpe 1958: 841-842).
However, the completion of the Buncombe Turnpike in 1827 began a period of economic and cultural expansion. This important road (which roughly follows U.S. 25) stretched from Greenville, South Carolina, to Greeneville, Tennessee, and established Henderson County as the southern gateway into the Blue Ridge. The Buncombe Turnpike, which became a plank road between Greenville and Asheville in 1851, carried wealthy, low country planters into the southern portion of the county. Here they developed summer colonies in Flat Rock and Fletcher, and bestowed on this area an unusually cosmopolitan flavor (Fain 1980: 21-23). At the same time, the north-south pike sparked commerce and the beginnings of a cash-crop economy. Although the preponderance of landowners continued to engage in subsistence agriculture, more and more farmers now shipped surplus produce and stock via the plank road to distant markets. Consequently, the county's population steadily increased, reaching 5,000 by 1840 and surpassing 10,000 (including 1,740 slaves) by the onset of the Civil War (Blackmun 1977: 202-204; Gifford 1979; Fain 1980: 24-25, 49; Bowers and Fullington 1988: E.2).
In response to this growth, the General Assembly created Henderson County from the southern section of vast Buncombe County in 1838. Two years later, following a general election, the county seat of Hendersonville was established at a propitious site along the Buncombe Turnpike (Fain 1980: 8). The new judicial seat, which was also the first town in the county, was laid out on 79 acres of land near Mud Creek. This tract was donated primarily by the area's largest landowner, Judge Mitchell King of Flat Rock and Charleston, South Carolina (Blackman 1977: 269-272; Fain 1980: 19; Bowers and Fullington 1988: E.2). (The name Henderson came from Judge Leonard Henderson of Granville County. The General Assembly was looking for a way to honor Judge Henderson who had passed away in 1833. The proponents of the new county agreed to name the county after him in exchange for eastern support of the new county.)
The original Hendersonville survey was executed by James Dyer Justice. The Justice plat consisted of 40 lots laid off in quarter block portions, generally bounded by present King and Washington streets (east and west), Caswell Street (south), and Seventh Avenue (north). This plat included a center square on Main Street that was set aside for the new, stuccoed brick, Greek Revival courthouse, put in service in 1844. To beautify the landscape and encourage property sales, Judge King had rows of trees planted along Main Street from the courthouse north to Academy Street (now Fourth Avenue). King also specified that Main Street be 100 feet wide so that "a carriage and four horses could turn around without backing" (Barber and Bailey 1988: 55, 63; Fain 1980: 31-36).
Hendersonville matured slowly during the middle decades of the nineteenth century. Chartered in 1847, the town attracted a small collection of merchants, lawyers, and other professionals, as well as innkeepers whose clientele were travelers along the Buncombe Turnpike. Colonel Valentine Ripley, who operated a stage line, opened the first hotel and owned a collection of the commercial buildings, including the stone Ripley Building, which still stands in the Main Street Historic District (Bowers 1988). A few boarding houses also appeared, catering to summer visitors seeking a haven from the oppressive heat of the lowland South (Barber and Bailey 1988: 54, 59-64).
Town growth fostered the formation of religious and scholastic institutions. St. James Episcopal Church (HN 130) was established in Hendersonville in 1843 as a mission church of St. John in the Wilderness Church, which had been organized by prominent coastal South Carolinians in Flat Rock in 1836. In 1848, the town's Baptists erected their first house of worship on a half-acre site east of Main Street. Methodists built their initial church in 1852, and that same year Presbyterians hired builder Henry Tudor Farmer of Flat Rock to construct their first church (Barber and Bailey 1988: 45-54).
In 1858, the Western Baptist Convention laid out plans for the construction of the Western North Carolina Female College at Hendersonville. In 1860, the massive stone Greek Revival college building, three stories high, was nearing completion at the corner of Fleming Street and Third Avenue at a cost of $18,000. The large stone columns supporting the recessed front porch were said to have been fashioned by Eliza Corn, wife of stone mason Drewry Corn, who supervised the overall construction. The building project was interrupted by the Civil War. In 1865, Major General George W. Stoneman's band of Union forces stabled horses in the building and burned the interior during its raid of the area. After the war, construction was finally completed, and the institution was named Judson College. In later years, this facility housed Hendersonville's first graded school (Fain 1980: 365; Barber and Bailey 1988: 42).
While the college and the courthouse were ambitious examples of the builders' Greek Revival, the architecture of the antebellum period in Henderson County typically demonstrated conservative, regional patterns (Williams 1981). Local builders perpetuated a small variety of traditional, symmetrical domestic designs, notably the two-story, one-room-deep house type (the I-house). Variations of this common form, usually with a side-gable roof, end chimneys, and a three-bay facade, were erected in Henderson County and throughout the Upland South into the early twentieth century (Southern 1978). The C.M. Pace House (ca. 1850) at 813 Fifth Avenue West is one of the few remaining antebellum buildings in Hendersonville. Although remodeled, this house retains its two-story rectangular form, gable roof, and exterior brick end chimneys. The Leander Justice House (HN 133), an 1890s version of this basic I-house type, survives in the Druid Hills neighborhood.
Post-Civil War to World War I
As throughout western North Carolina during the Civil War, Henderson County experienced periodic clashes between local unionists and secessionists. Many families of low country planters took refuge in Flat Rock, and in 1864 a company of Confederate soldiers camped on the front lawn of the Farmer Hotel in Flat Rock to protect guests from marauders. Sporadic raids by Union forces, looting, and property damage marked the late war years in the county, and the growth of Hendersonville was stalled until the 1870s and the arrival of the railroad (Fain 1980: 49-60; Barber and Bailey 1988: 90; Sharpe 1958: 849-849).
The coming of the railroad, writes county historian James T. Fain, "was the beginning of the modern era for Henderson County" (Fain 1988: 107). The Spartanburg and Asheville Railroad (absorbed by the Southern Railway in 1902) reached Hendersonville from the east in 1879, and in 1886 the gap in the line between Hendersonville and Asheville was spanned. This rail line, which was connected to the Western North Carolina in Asheville, linked the Atlantic coast to the Ohio Valley by rail and afforded Hendersonville unprecedented access to national markets. The arrival of the railroad in Hendersonville was greeted with a rousing celebration on the Fourth of July, 1879. One observer that day counted five hotels (not nearly sufficient to accommodate the large crowd) as well as 17 stores lining Main Street (Fain 1980: 365).
In the ensuing decades, Hendersonville took shape as both an entrepot for county farm produce and stock and as a center for the thriving summer tourist industry (Patton 1947: 260-262). By the turn of the century, the county contained 14,000 inhabitants, while Hendersonville's year-round population had reached 2,000. In 1894, entrepreneur Flavius G. Hart, who established a produce shipping business in town, shipped nearly 20 million pounds of fruits and vegetables (including eight million pounds of cabbage). The 1895 trade edition of the Hendersonville Times championed commercial and agricultural expansion. The newspaper predicted "a bright future" for dairy farming and the development of creameries. Articles promoted furniture and brick manufacturing and exhorted local farmers to raise cattle and sheep for export, and to cultivate large-scale fruit orchards. The newspaper noted the abundance of clays in the county for commercial brick making and the "almost inexhaustible" varieties of oak, maple, beech, hickory, pine, and chestnut (Fain 1980: 375).
The growing leagues of summer vacationers also provided a market for farm products and regional building materials. By rail, travelers were able to make the journey from the South Carolina coast to Hendersonville in only two days (as opposed to 10 days by stage), and tourists from northern Florida, Georgia ,and South Carolina now streamed into the mountains. By the end of the summer season of 1914, the Southern Railway reported that some 50,000 tickets had been sold to travelers bound for Hendersonville (Barber and Bailey 1988: 59). Although many of these tourists ventured on to Flat Rock, Fletcher, and other small mountain communities and summer camps, numerous others stayed in town to reside in local hotels and boarding houses or in private homes.
Between 1880 and the early twentieth century, Hendersonville developed on a scale that belied the size of its permanent population. Brick commercial blocks replaced frame stores on Main Street ,and nationally popular architectural styles supplanted the traditional forms. Local builders such as W.F. Edwards took advantage of low-cost, mass-produced materials (delivered by rail or produced at local brick kilns and sawmills) and widely circulating architectural pattern books to construct buildings reflecting the most up-to-date styles. Builders' use of the innovative light balloon frame, which consisted entirely of small framing members nailed in place, fostered new types of residential design inspired by the rise of the national picturesque movement. Thus between the 1880s and early 1900s, Hendersonville boasted new buildings that displayed an unprecedented array of architectural features. In particular, versions of the Queen Anne, the Classical Revival, and the Colonial Revival styles appeared throughout town to signify Hendersonville's growth and prosperity during the railroad era (Williams 1981).
Soon after the arrival of the railroad in 1879, the city limits were extended to a one-mile radius from the courthouse, new streets were opened, and a 600-seat, Romanesque Revival Opera House arose on Main Street. In 1888, the town's first bank building opened its doors. With characteristic enthusiasm, the Hendersonville Times described this building as "one of the most substantial and attractive improvements in Hendersonville. . . its cost was $5,000 and its arrangement and equipment are conceded to be the best in the South" (Fain 1980: 345). In 1904-1905, the antebellum courthouse was replaced by a Classical Revival model designed by the noted architect Frank Pierce Milburn, who at the time was also the official architect of the Southern Railway (Barber and Bailey 1988: 18). The new courthouse was constructed by W.F. Edwards, who in 1910 also built the Classical Revival People's National Bank on Main Street. In 1908, the town secured $10,000 from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation to build a handsome Classical Revival public library, completed in 1914 (Fain 1980: 296). A year earlier, the 17-room (former) Patton Memorial Hospital (HN 87), a red-brick, Colonial Revival facility, was built with private funds on land donated by Annie E. Patton at the north end of town (later Hyman Heights) (Fain 1980: 310-311).
Progress was also measured in bond issues that paid for water and sewer lines, a town hall, a town cemetery (Oakdale, HN 114), the paving of major sidewalks and streets, and two graded schools--the 1912 Rosa Edwards School (HN 98) for whites and the 1916 Sixth Avenue School for African Americans. By 1903, residents were enjoying both telephone and electric service, and utility poles replaced shade trees down the middle of Main Street (Fain 1980: 37-44).
With the advent of electricity in Hendersonville, a small gasoline-powered streetcar system was converted to electric power. In 1905, William A. Smith opened the Laurel Park Railroad Company, For seven years, the "Dummy line" carried passengers from Main Street down Fifth Avenue to a dance pavilion and lake which Smith had established at Laurel Park, south of town (Patton 1947: 242-243; Fitzsimons 1976: 210-211).
By the 1910s, contiguous rows of mostly two-story brick buildings characterized Main Street's commercial core. These buildings contained an array of hardware, photographic, dry cleaning, general mercantile, furniture, clothing, jewelry, and appliance stores. Upper-story offices accommodated a host of lawyers, at least a half dozen physicians, and two dentists. Liveries occupied lots around the fringe of the business district. Near the railroad depot, a secondary commercial node arose along Anderson Avenue (later Seventh Avenue) (NR 1988) northeast of downtown (Bowers 988). On March 18, 1909, for example, a notice appeared in the Hendersonville Times stating that Hiram Pace was building a brick store on Anderson Avenue next to the railroad tracks, ". . . which will be occupied by M. Flynn, the merchant, when finished" (Branson 1915; Fain 1980: 375; Bowers and Fullington 1988: E.4; Bowers 1988).
East of Main Street, assorted small warehouses, factories, and workers' housing were also built near the tracks, reflecting Hendersonville's standing as the principal railroad center in the county. The 1912 Sanborn Map of Hendersonville depicted lumber companies, sawmills, wholesale grocery establishments, two casket factories, a creamery, a wagon shop, an ice factory, and a grist mill sited along streets oriented to the railroad (Sanborn Map Company 1912). In 1913, the Freeze-Bacon Hosiery Corporation was founded with a plant on Whitted Street at Lenox Park. The Freeze-Bacon property was subsequently bought by the Wing Paper Box Company, manufacturers of shipping containers. By the eve of World War I, Captain James P. Grey and his son formed the Grey Hosiery Mill (HN 135) and constructed a one-story brick factory at the corner of Fourth Avenue East and Grove Street. At about this same time, Philadelphians George A. Moland and Bruce Drysdal established a large brick works in nearby Etowah (Fain 1980: 391).
Typical of mountain communities, Hendersonville contained only a small African American population (less than 10 percent of the total population in 1900), usually employed in domestic service or in other low-paying occupations (U.S. Census 1900). By the early twentieth century, a black neighborhood known as Brooklyn had taken shape near the railroad tracks above Seventh Avenue.
The greatest influence on the physical development of Hendersonville in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was the tourist boom. The annual arrival by train of both wealthy and middle-class visitors not only bolstered Main Street businesses but also gave rise to a distinctive landscape of fashionable hotels and innumerable boarding houses. The massive, 1895 Wheeler Hotel, located at the north end of town, held 100 rooms and a dance pavilion. The Wayside Inn opened as a boarding house on Seventh Avenue about 1890, and by the end of the decade, the Waverly Inn (NR 1988) and the Chewning House (NR 1988) were also boarding summer guests. In the early twentieth century, a host of stylish hotels and boarding houses appeared around the periphery of the commercial district, including the Cedars (NR 1988) on Seventh Avenue, the Aloha Hotel (NR 1988) on Third Avenue, the Kentucky Home on Fourth Avenue, and the Smith-Williams-Durham Boarding House (NR 1988, demolished) on Fifth Avenue (Little and Rothman 1988; Bowers et al 1988; Barber and Bailey 1988: 92-105). On January 7,1909, a writer for the French Broad Hustler reported on Hendersonville's prosperity and the many new boarding houses that dotted this bustling mountain town: "The writer claims that the number of such houses doubled in the previous six years. Moderate rates, freedom from contagious diseases, good service, pure and abundant water, beautiful scenic surrounds, ease of accessibility, and the spirit of the town, are a few of the many reasons for Hendersonville's undoubted and undenied position as THE resort of the mountains" (Bowers and Fullington 1988: E.9).
Concurrently, single-family residences appeared in increasing numbers throughout Hendersonville. Residential construction was particularly noteworthy west of Main Street, where substantial dwellings in the latest architectural styles were built along Fourth and Fifth Avenues and the intersecting streets. Many of these houses were constructed for Hendersonville's wealthier local families. For example, Laura V. King, the daughter of Colonel Valentine Ripley, commissioned the ca. 1881 King-Waldrop House (NR 1988) at 103 South Washington Street. This impressive Italianate house was later owned by Dr. J.G. Waldrop, a local physician. About 1890, Hendersonville resident William P. Reese built one of the town's earliest Queen Anne-style homes at 202 South Washington Street (NR 1988). About 1910, R.C. Clarke (HN 75), a prominent local businessman and banker, commissioned a red-brick Colonial Revival residence at 514 Fifth Avenue West, while judge Michael Schenk (HN 140) took residence in his new weatherboard Colonial Revival dwelling at 244 Fourth Avenue West. Judge Schenk hired local architect Erle Stillwell to design his stylish home, and by the 1920s Stillwell was Hendersonville's most active and accomplished architect, designing fashionable houses as well as commercial and civic buildings throughout the town.
These houses of the local elite often shared blocks with dwellings commissioned by out-of-towners for their summer residences. The grand Neo-Classical Revival Birdie West House (Westhaven) (HN 139) at 1235 Fifth Avenue West, the Colonial Revival Charles Rogers House (HN 127) at 908 Fifth Avenue West, and the Colonial Revival Mary Mills Coxe House (NR 1988) at 1210 Greenville Highway, were such summer homes. The Coxe residence displays a distinctive, pebbledash exterior finish, a feature made popular by Richard Sharp Smith, the architect of Biltmore Village whose widespread practice extended throughout western North Carolina (Opperman 1994).
By the onset of World War I, Hendersonville was also the site of several prestigious private academies. These schools took advantage of the scenic setting and salubrious climate to attract the children of wealthy families from throughout the region. The Blue Ridge School for Boys operated for 55 years as a private boarding school on the east side of town, while Fassifern School for Girls functioned for 41 years at the corner of Fleming Street and U.S. 25 North. Blue Ridge School was organized in 1913 by J.R. Sandifer on a 60-acre tract, with construction continuing into the early 1920s. The school was closed in 1968 and the buildings were demolished with the construction of Interstate 26 and Four Seasons Boulevard. Fassifern, which was formed in Lincolnton, North Carolina, by Kate Shipp, daughter of a Hendersonville attorney, was moved to Hendersonville in 1911. Here it occupied the summer house of J. Caldwell Robertson. A third private school, Carolina Military Naval Academy, was shorter lived. It was chartered by a group of local residents in 1919 and operated until 1924 on a site now known as Highland Lake (Fain 1980: 283-285).
World War I to World War II
The rapid and widespread adoption of automotive travel after World War I fueled land speculation in the 1920s and altered the patterns of both residential construction and resort development. As outlying areas were opened to development, a major road paving program was started in 1921 to connect the former countryside with town. By 1926, Hendersonville had 40 miles of paved streets and sidewalks (Fain 1980: 130-131). While much of the earlier residential construction had been concentrated within the town core, automobile ownership allowed new houses to be built along the older farm-to-market roads which formed a spoke system out from Hendersonville.
Particularly on the west side, bungalows, substantial Four Square houses, Colonial Revival dwellings, and other Revival style residences were built on lots subdivided from older farm properties. Haywood Road (leading northwest towards Waynesville), Sixth Avenue (or the Brevard Road), Fifth Avenue (connecting the town core with Laurel Park), and Fourth Avenue all saw increased development. The 800 and 900 blocks of Fifth Avenue West (HN 107, 126) and the 700 Block of Fourth Avenue West (HN 101) contain profusions of handsome weatherboard and brick-veneered bungalows, Colonial Revival cottages, and Four Square dwellings.
One prominent landowner and developer during these boom times was O.E. Hedge, who constructed an enclave on the west side of Hendersonville at Ehringhaus Street and Hedge Alley (HN 108). Within this cluster of stuccoed, English Arts and Crafts cottages is Hedge's own house at 519 Ehringhaus Street (HN 109) and Poet Haven (HN 113), the home of poet John Travers Moore and author Margaret Moore, located at 525 Ehringhaus Street. Influential local architect Erle Stillwell designed his own house on the west side of Hendersonville, as well as a number of others for wealthy clients. About 1920, Florida businessman Charles A. Hobbs commissioned Stillwell to design his stately frame Colonial Revival house (HN 123) at the corner of West Fifth Avenue and Blythe Street, opposite the equally sophisticated Birdie West House (HN 139). The Erle Stillwell House (HN 111) was designed in 1939 as a refined example of the English Tudor Revival at 541 Blythe Street.
Increased automobile traffic also spurred commercial ventures to support the new transportation mode. Automobile showrooms, gasoline stations, and car repair shops were built along the major boulevards and highways (Barber 1988: 135). Jones Motor Company erected a new building on East Allen Street (now the county school administration building). However, of the new automobile-oriented ventures, perhaps the most notable survivor is the Art Moderne Boyd Pontiac-Cadillac Company (HN 110) automobile showroom, located north of the business district on the Asheville Highway (Bowers 1988: E.6).
Tourism continued to dominate the local economy, and land speculation reached dangerous heights in the early 1920s (Hendersonville City Directory 1926). In 1924, there were 89 real estate offices and 800 individual brokers in operation. Much of the real estate boom was the direct efforts of local men who formed the Henoco Club in 1920 to attract out-of-state tourists. Organized by land developer W.A. Smith and hoteliers Sam Hodges and Jake Wells, the club went to Florida in early 1921 to promote Hendersonville, and the influx of Floridians made that year one of the best tourist seasons ever in Hendersonville(Bowers 1988: E.9). Floridians, experiencing their own boom in the Miami area, financed much of the new development. In 1924, two Floridians and two Hendersonville natives established Laurel Park Estates, a 10,000 acre development for residences, parks, hotels, and recreational facilities. While Asheville could boast more than 250,000 visitors in 1920, by 1926, the population of Hendersonville quadrupled in the summer time from a permanent population of 10,000 to over 40,000 (Bowers 1988: E.l1).
One development scheme, the Fleetwood hotel, epitomized the grandiose and often unrealistic expectations of the 1920s. The hotel was planned by Commodore Perry Stoltz, former president of the New York Yacht Club and Miami resident, who bought a prominent site on top of Echo Mountain overlooking Laurel Park for the Fleetwood. As a replica of the original Fleetwood, the largest hotel in Florida, Stoltz intended the Echo Mountain hotel also to have a powerful radio station. Construction began during the mid-1920s when one promoter was touting Hendersonville as the "little Hollywood of the East Coast," but the increasing dependence of Hendersonville's fortunes on Florida capital made large-scale projects like the Fleetwood precarious. As the Florida land boom peaked in 1925, so did the Hendersonville boom. As a result, the local economy of Hendersonville began to slow long before the stock market crash of 1929. Never completed, the Fleetwood became emblematic of the wild speculation of the 1920s boom, and finally in 1937 the steel framing of the uncompleted hotel was sold for salvage (Barber 1988: 203).
Other large-scale real estate developments of the late 1910s and 1920s were permanent residential suburbs. Osceola Lake, Mountain Home, Druid Hills, Grimesdale, and Hyman Heights exemplified the planned neighborhoods of early twentieth century Hendersonville, offering single-family dwellings designed in nationally popular styles with amenities like paved streets and water and sewer service.
Advertised as the "Suburban Village," Druid Hills was built one mile north of the town in an area bounded by the Asheville, or Dixie, Highway and Mills River Highway (now called Haywood Road) (Hendersonville City Directory 1926: 150). Part of Druid Hills was built on land owned at the turn of the century by Leander Justice, whose house (HN 133 ) remains on Higate Street. Other areas of Druid Hills were owned by P.C. Wright, who established the Hendersonville Real Estate Company to develop his land as a restricted residential suburb. Wright had the initial plat of Druid Hills platted in 1923. Druid Hills was restricted to residential construction only, although garage and guest apartments were allowed. Construction costs had to exceed $4,000 and all plans had to be approved by the corporation. Finally, in keeping with the times, ownership was limited to whites and "people of good character" only. Designed with picturesque, curvilinear streets oriented around a small park, Druid Hills occupied a roughly triangular tract between the two highways, with Ridgewood Avenue forming the western limits and Chelsea the northern.
Druid Hills developed rapidly and by 1925, an extension called the Ridgewood Section was platted (Plat Map 1923, 1925). In 1926, two further expansions were planned, one to the west along Higate Road and another to the north along Meadowbrook Terrace. With rapid development, Druid Hills soon outgrew its water and sewer systems, and by the late 1920s, the community systems had to be rebuilt, financed by bonds issued in 1927. Located outside the Hendersonville town limits, this fashionable subdivision was operated by commissioners until annexed to Hendersonville in 1968 (Fain 1980: 115,118).
Druid Hills attracted local professionals and middle-class residents who selected a range of conservative house styles. By the end of the 1920s, this suburb was filled with a mix of one-story bungalows and larger, two-story Revival styles. Of note is the John Forest House (HN 88) at 1609 Druid Hills Avenue, a spacious, brick Mediterranean Revival residence erected for John Forest, Hendersonville's leading building contractor of this period. Kensington Road (HN 128) features some of the finest Spanish Colonial Revival houses in the city, while Norwood Place (HN 119), Clairmont Drive (HN 118), and Ashwood Road (HN 134) boast a variety of bungalows and dwellings in the Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, and Spanish Colonial Revival styles.
Also developed primarily during the 1920s, the Hyman Heights neighborhood is located due north of the business district on the east side of the Asheville Highway. The neighborhood was formed from a subdivision of land surrounding the mid-nineteenth century stone dwelling, Killarney (HN 79), the hilltop setting of which provided a dramatic view of Hendersonville to the south. Although the Hyman family does not seem to have ever owned Killarney, much of the surrounding land (which became Hyman Heights) was in the possession of John and Bien Hyman by the 1870s. Hyman Heights had been originally platted in 1905, but construction was limited until after World War I and the construction of the (former) Patton Memorial Hospital (HN 87) in 1913. Surrounding these two landmarks are tree-shaded streets, some of which are curvilinear to conform to the hilltop topography. The original 1905 plat of Hyman Heights was defined by North Main Street, Haywood Avenue, Waynesville Street, Highland Avenue, and Williams Street. Like the residential neighborhoods on the west side of Hendersonville, Hyman Heights has a variety of nationally popular residential designs. Bungalows dominate Patton Street (HN 78, 94) and North Main Street (HN 80-81), while other streets, such as Highland Avenue (HN 93), display a mixture of stately Colonial Revival dwellings, Four Square houses, bungalows, and Tudor Revival cottages. The Thomas Clark House (HN 90) at 1230 Oakland Avenue, the Janet Reid House (HN 92) at 414 Crescent, and the Dr. Robert Sample House (HN 85) at 1125 Highland Avenue are sophisticated, well-preserved examples of the Colonial Revival style. Dr. Sample was one of a small group of physicians associated with the Patton Hospital who built homes in Hyman Heights.
In addition to these residential suburbs, Hendersonville had several high-rise apartment buildings. While apartment living was rather unusual in small towns of the period, Hendersonville supported a large, seasonal population, much of which hailed from urban locales where apartment living was common. Several handsome red-brick Colonial Revival apartment buildings survive in town, including the Maxwell (HN 76) and the Ambassador (HN 77), both located on West Fifth Avenue, and the Bellevue (HN 141) on North Church Street.
Speculative land prices were found in the permanent residential areas as well as in the resort communities. When a lake section of Druid Hills was opened, lots were sold for $1,500 and $1,650 with as little as $150 as a down payment. Lots in W.A. Smith's Laurel Park sold for as high as $4,500. The rapid expansion and land speculation clearly could not last, and as early 1928, the boom was over in Hendersonville.
The 1930s presented a sharp contrast to the economic expansion and numerous construction projects of the preceding decade. The Depression was particularly severe in Hendersonville, which had overestimated growth projections and population figures (the town had 4,898 residents according to the census of 1930) (Fain 1980: 148). With too many assets invested in land, the value of which deflated quickly, all three Hendersonville banks closed on the same day in November 1930. As the economic depression deepened, tourism ground to a halt. Economic depression and changes in vacationing habits dealt a death blow to most of the grand hotels for which Hendersonville was known. Particularly in the blocks lining the west side of Main Street, hotels like the Blue Ridge Inn, the Hodgewell Hotel, the Kentucky Home, and the Park Hill Inn, all closed and were eventually demolished. (The Hodgewell and the Kentucky Home were both razed for a city parking lot in 1962.) The Skyland Hotel, which opened expectantly in the summer of 1929, boasted 76 rooms at its Main Street and Sixth Avenue East location (Fitzsimons 1977: 63). Sited on the present location of the Drysdale Primary School, the Hotel Wheeler, which had been built in 1895, was destroyed by fire in 1930. However, a few of the early twentieth century hotels and boarding houses located outside downtown have survived. Bon Haven Inn (HN 99), located in Hyman Heights at 1314 Hyman Avenue, is a large-frame Four Square residence with broad, fieldstone porch. On the west side of Hendersonville, Twelve Oaks Manor (HN 98) at 401 Fourth Avenue West is a substantial, Colonial Revival dwelling with a number of additions.
Although the Depression of the 1930s had devastating effects on the Hendersonville economy, local efforts to build a golf course persisted as a means of enhancing the resort potential of the town. In 1933 and 1934, such a course was completed at the newly formed Hendersonville Country Club. The earlier golf course at Laurel Park, designed by renowned golf course planner Donald Ross, had gone uncompleted when Laurel Park Estates went bankrupt in 1926, and local leaders formed the country club in 1932 to develop the property. Title to the land was transferred to the city in order that construction of the club could be undertaken with relief labor and funds, but the property was reassigned to the club in 1945.
Other civic improvements were undertaken during the 1930s using federal relief. One New Deal program, the Civilian Conservation Corps, hired young men to assist with reforestation in nearby national forests. Other projects included work on school grounds, improvements to the Asheville-Hendersonville airport, street repairs along Seventh Avenue, and the construction of a new stone gymnasium in 1936 for the Hendersonville High School (Fain 1980: 159). In 1934, another relief program, the Public Works Administration, sponsored improvements to Patton Memorial Hospital and the construction of a nurses home (HN 93) on an adjoining lot north of the hospital (Fain 1980: 163).
Public parks were also created during the 1930s. Prior to this time, Hendersonville had only one city park, Toms Park, donated in 1917 by Confederate veteran Captain Marion C. Toms. Boyd and Edwards Park, bounded by Church Street, North Main Street, Locust Street, and Eighth Avenue, was developed in the 1930s in part as a post home for the American Legion Post. The legion moved from the site in 1942, and a portion of the Edwards Park property was given to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1949. The park is home to two Boy Scout Cabins (HN 112) which were probably built in the late 1930s, soon after the park was opened.
The economic depression of the 1930s only ended in Hendersonville with accelerated wartime production. While the tourist sector remained depressed, World War II stimulated both the agricultural economy and the manufacturing base of the county. Truck farming grew dramatically with soaring international demand for food during the war, and migrant workers had to be brought in during the war as local men were away in service. Although industrial expansion in Henderson County has occurred most noticeably since World War II, the textile mills and lumber operations all grew with the accelerated demand of the war years.
World War II to the Present
After the economic constraints of the 1930s and wartime limitations on travel, Hendersonville and Henderson County began to regain some of their earlier economic momentum after World War II. Manufacturing, truck farming, apple and dairy production, lumber, tourism, and a rapidly increasing retiree population all fueled economic growth by the 1950s. Henderson County emerged as the leading agricultural county in western North Carolina and the leading producer of apples in the state. In addition, the county underwent its greatest industrial growth with General Electric, Cranston Print Works, and Belding Hemingway (thread manufacturers) all building production plants in the area. Other manufacturers, including Green River Mills and Grey Hosiery Mill, undertook expansion programs while the Kalmia Dairy constructed a new processing plant on U.S. 25 North near Druid Hills to process local produce (Fain 1980: 357).
One of the first large construction projects of the postwar era was the planning of a new hospital as the town outgrew the capacity of the 1913 Patton Hospital. The new facility, the Margaret R. Pardee Memorial Hospital, was built on Fleming Street on the site of the former home of Confederate veteran Captain J.W. Wofford, a Spartanburg, South Carolina, native. Underwritten largely by Margaret R. Pardee, the new hospital was dedicated in 1953, and Patton Hospital was converted to apartments.
In 1950, a school bond was passed to improve the physical facilities of the Hendersonville school system. The Sixth Avenue School for blacks was moved to Ninth Avenue where a new building was constructed, while the Eighth Avenue High School was renovated. Construction occurred in the mid-1950s at the Rosa Edwards School which included an auditorium, firewalls, and a cafeteria, and in 1958, the Bruce Drysdale School was built as an elementary school on North Main near St. James's Episcopal Church (Fain 1980: 266-267). In the early 1960s, architect Erle Stillwell designed two new high schools, East Henderson and West Henderson high schools. In 1970, a new public library was constructed to replace the earlier Carnegie library. The new library is located on the site of a former women's club on Washington Street between Third and Fourth avenues.
By the mid-1950s, Hendersonville had begun to recover some of its lost tourist trade, spurred in large measure by an influx of retirees. Permanent relocation by retirees also created a real estate boom, and by 1970 the population of the county stood at 42,804. In the past 25 years, the population of Henderson County has continued to grow unabated (Fain 1980: 188). Much of this boom has been fostered by highway construction. Interstate 26 connects Asheville with Spartanburg on the east side of Hendersonville, while Interstate 40 to the north also gives Hendersonville ready east-west access. The construction of I-26 led to the opening of Four Seasons Boulevard as a link between downtown and the highway. Strip commercial development and planned residential communities followed in the wake of these east-side road projects, while residential sprawl has also occurred on the other sides of town as well, particularly towards Flat Rock to the south.
Within the historic core of Hendersonville, much demolition has occurred in recent years, particularly in the blocks immediately surrounding the central business district. In the 1960s, several blocks on the west side of Main Street were cleared for parking, and as a result, several of the surviving downtown hotels, including the Marlborough at the corner of Church Street and Fifth Avenue West, were demolished.
The residential neighborhoods flanking the business core have fared better. Particularly on the west and north sides, the extent and character of early twentieth century development is still evident. However, while postwar infill did not greatly alter the character of these neighborhoods, rapid and widespread recent development now threatens to overwhelm these early suburbs and neighborhoods.