IMPORTANT DATES IN ASHEVILLE HISTORY
by Rob Neufeld
1000: The Cherokee, who’d introduced maize agriculture to the region, began cultivating beans.
1540: Hernando De Soto led troops to East Tennessee through either the Hickory Nut or Swannanoa Gap, finding gold and copper and inspiring a succession of Spanish miners.
1663: Charles II bestows territory between the 31st and 36th parallels in America to eight proprietors.
1670: Charlestonians, newly established, set up a vigorous trade with the Cherokee for animal pelts.
1739: Smallpox, carried by a slave ship to Charleston, traveled with fur traders into the mountains and destroyed half the Cherokee population in one year.
Dec. 18, 1761: The Cherokee signed a peace treaty with the British at the end of the French & Indian War.
1776: World famous botanist William Bartram comes to the region.
1776: In reaction to attacks on Old Fort, American General Griffith Rutherford goes on a scorched earth march to Murphy, destroying a few dozen Indian towns in one month, and giving future settlers their first glimpses of the land.
1777: Jim and Sue, the first African American slaves on this region, were brought by William Moore to Hominy Valley.
Oct. 7, 1780. The Battle of Kings Mountain, the death knell for the British Army, is won due in large part to the Overmountain Men.
Spring, 1784: Samuel Davidson settled on Cherokee land along Christian Creek in Swannanoa, and was killed by Indians as his wife, child, and Negro servant fled to Old Fort.
1785: The Treaty of Hopewell officially ceded Cherokee lands west of the Blue Ridge to the United States.
June 14, 1787: James McConnell Smith was born in Asheville.
1790: John Weaver brought his family through Bull Gap to Reems Creek, got along with local Indians, and was followed in settlement by Captain David Vance.
Jan. 14, 1792: The N.C. State Senate ratified the law creating Buncombe County, which then included all of western North Carolina south of Mitchell County.
Apr. 16, 1792: Buncombe County government held its first meeting in Col. William Davidson’s barn on the Swannanoa and authorized roads from Davidson’s to future Transylvania County; Reems Creek to future Yancey County; and Davidson’s to Reems Creek, with a branch from public square to Beaverdam Creek.
1792: Robert Henry, Battle of Kings Mountain veteran, established Union Hill Academy (later Newton Academy), the first schoolhouse west of the Blue Ridge.
July, 1793: The first county courthouse was built, and the town named Morristown, later changed to Asheville.
1793: Zebulon Baird, who drove the first four-wheel wagon into the county, built Asheville’s first store.
1794: John Burton received a grant of 200-acres in the center of town and divided them into 42 lots for sale.
Jan. 27, 1798: The state legislature incorporated the village of Asheville.
1799: The last buffalo in the area was killed by Joseph Rice at Bull’s Gap.
1800: Abraham Reynolds, a Baptist preacher, moved into the Bent Creek area and lived peaceably with the local Indians.
1800: Bishop Francis Asbury, John Wesley’s representative in America, began his circuit-riding of this region, often stopping at the Killian place in Beaverdam.
Jan. 4, 1801: David Swain, future Governor of North Carolina and University of North Carolina president, was born in Beaverdam.
1808: Haywood County is formed.
1814: James Patton built and opened Eagle Hotel in Asheville, housing, among others, the English botanist John Lyon in his dying days.
Feb. 4, 1817: The U.S. Supreme Court decided that British grants to Granville territory lands, which included Asheville, had become invalid with the Treaty of Paris.
1822: Congressman Felix Walker insisted on “speaking for Buncombe” in the House of Representatives regarding support for military parades, and the press, disdainful of Walker’s anti-Indian policies, coined the word, “bunkum,” to mean empty noise.
1827: Sulphur Springs is discovered by Sam, slave of Robert Henry, who builds a hotel and health resort.
1827: Charles and Susan Baring of Charleston build Mountain Lodge in Flat Rock, setting off its growth as a summer resort town.
1828: The Buncombe Turnpike opened, following four years work improving the abandoned pathway, and enabled the transportation of livestock from mountain farms to South Carolina markets.
1828: The inaugural issue of the first Native American newspaper, the “Cherokee Phoenix,” is printed in English and Cherokee.
1828: Thomas Stradley, a Baptist minister, arrives from England and becomes a leader in establishing Baptist conferences in the region.
1830: Sulphur Springs Hotel, the first health resort in the area, opened on the present site of Malvern Hills in West Asheville.
1838: Cherokee removal began.
1839: Henderson County was formed
1840: James McConnell Smith built his showplace house on Victoria Road, now a local history museum under the auspices of the Western North Carolina Historical Association.
1844: George Avery is born, a slave to William Wallace McDowell, who would encourage Avery to join the Union Army for a pension and would give land to him for a community in what is now Kenilworth.
1845: Elizabeth Blackwell came to teach for Dr. John Dickson at his Women’s Seminary behind the Methodist Church in Asheville, and later became the world’s first female M.D.
1847: The Miller Meeting House, now Trinity United Methodist Church, was established in West Asheville.
1848: William Holland Thomas, adopted by Cherokee Chief Yonaguska, was elected N.C. State Senator.
1850: Tax rates were: 5 cents per pig, 20 cents per dog, and $5 on a practicing lawyer; there was a $20 fine for betting on ten pins, and a 50 cent levy for street performing.
1851: The Asheville and Greenville Plank Road was built, abandoned after the Civil War.
1856: Mars Hill University was founded as the French Broad Baptist Institute.
1857: Dr. Elisha Mitchell, discoverer of what is now called Mt. Mitchell as the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi, is found dead in a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the Black Mountains.
1859: The first organized patrol of policemen was formed.
April 18, 1861: Three days after President Lincoln’s call for troops, William Wallace McDowell led the Buncombe Riflemen out of Asheville to join the First North Carolina Regiment of the Confederacy.
May 20, 1861: North Carolina secedes from the Union.
1861: An Asheville plant for the manufacture of Enfield rifles was opened by Ephraim Clayton, R.W. Pulliam, and William Rankin to arm Confederate soldiers.
July 1, 1862: The Battle of Malvern Hill results in 296 Western North Carolina casualties.
Jan. 18, 1863: Confederate Colonel James Keith led a massacre against Union sympathizers in Shelton Laurel, Madison County, after locals had raided the town’s salt larders.
April 26, 1865: Gen. Stoneman’s Cavalry, under the command of Gen, Gillem, occupies Asheville.
1866: The first baseball game in town was played on the “Barn Field” near the present Aston Park.
1867: Congress passes a Reconstruction Act, making North Carolina part of a military district under Federal army occupation.
1868: African-American members of Central Methodist Church withdrew to form Hopkins Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
1869: The Asheville Citizen began publishing.
1871: The first tuberculosis sanatorium in the United States was established by Dr. Horatio Page Gatchell in what is now Kenilworth.
1871: The systematic mining of corundum in the region was begun by Colonel Charles W. Jenks.
1871: Klan members horsewhipped Rep. J.M. Justice and ransacked the offices of the “Rutherford Star,” causing Judge Logan to call in Federal Troops and have Klan members put in jail.
1875: Samuel Kelsey and Clinton Hutchinson move to Highlands and establish a summer resort, the highest town east of the Rockies.
1876: Asheville’s streets were officially named.
1876: Christian Reid publishes “The Land of Sky,” a novel about tourists in Asheville, providing a catchphrase for future tourism promoters.
1879: The first tobacco warehouse was opened in Asheville at Lexington and Aston Avenues, signaling a boom that lasted ensued until the last flue-cured warehouse closed in 1897.
1879: The Swannanoa Tunnel is completed.
1880: Solomon Lipinsky moves to Asheville, becoming a major merchant and civic leader, and forming part of the community that established Congregation Beth Ha-Tephila.
Oct. 3, 1880: The first train pulled into Asheville, 25 years after the state approved the creation of the Western North Carolina Railroad.
Mar. 8, 1883: Asheville was incorporated as a city.
1883: Charles Sargent, Harvard’s famed botanist, made the abundance of valuable hardwood trees in the region known to the world, and ushered in an era of lumber cutting.
1883: George Willis Pack, lumber tycoon and philanthropist, moved here from Cleveland to cure his wife’s throat ailment.
1884: Mission Hospital opened.
1885: Laws were passed requiring confinement of livestock in city limits.
1886: Colonel Frank Coxe opened the manorial Battery Park Hotel, outfitted with Edison lights and Otis elevators, atop a hill that overlooked Asheville.
1887: George Washington Vanderbilt stayed at the Battery Park Hotel and gained the view of Mt. Pisgah that inspired his dream home investment.
1887: Asheville Cotton Mill began operation.
1888: Electricity and street lighting came to Asheville.
1888: Asheville schools formed its first board, one of the members of which was Isaac Dickson, a black businessman.
1888: Winyah Sanitarium opened, headed by Dr. Karl Von Ruck, a pioneer in the treatment of tuberculosis.
1889: The Asheville Street Railway began running.
1890: The city’s population as well as property value quadrupled in the decade since the arrival of the railroad.
1892: The Young Men’s Institute in Asheville was built by Vanderbilt and his architect, Richard Sharp Smith, for the black community, which would purchase it in 1906.
1893: Montford was incorporated into the city.
1893: The volunteer fire department received its first hose wagon and fire horses.
1894: Western North Carolina railroad was bought by Southern Railway.
1894: Asheville Farm School opened, merging with Dorland-Bell School in 1942 to become Warren Wilson Junior College.
1897: The Montreat Retreat Association was formed.
1897: Vance Monument was erected, with funding from George Willis Pack, three years after Vance's death.
1898: Company K, composed of black soldiers, including E.W. Pearson, Burton Street community founder, fought in the Spanish-American War.
1898: Carl Schenck established the Biltmore School of Forestry— the first such school in America—advocating the long-term management of forests as producers of lumber.
1899: Asheville Mica Company was established, capitalizing on the region’s prominence as the center of mica production.
1899: George Willis Pack bestowed the Palmetto Building on Public Square to the library association, formed in 1879.
1899: The Good Roads Movement was established in Asheville, making it the first in the South.
1903: Asheville began drawing water from the North Fork of the Swannanoa River through gravity lines, supplementing the “Old Reservoir” at the top of College Street and the “Old Waterworks” near today’s Recreation Park.
1904: Riverside Park opened as the premier recreation site in Asheville; it was destroyed by the flood of 1916.
1906: E.W. Grove built his first project in Asheville, a residential park on Charlotte Street.
1906. Champion Fibre Company establishes a pulp mill in Canton.
Nov. 13, 1906: Will Harris went on a killing spree in downtown Asheville and was hunted down by a posse, the episode becoming the basis for Thomas Wolfe’s “Child by Tiger”
Oct. 8, 1907: Asheville voted for prohibition.
1908: St. Lawrence Catholic Church (now Basilica), was completed, the work of Rafael Guastavino.
1908: The English Mica Co. was established in the Spruce Pine area, followed by Harris Clay & Mining Co. and the Spruce Pine Mica Co., making the area the leading producer of the insulating material.
1910: Little Switzerland was created at Grassy Mountain with land mostly purchased from Nancy DeWeese Buchanan.
1911: Gus Baty fell from Whiteside Mountain, trying to impress a girl, was hung up in a branch 60 feet down, and was rescued by Charlie Wright, whom the Carnegie Commission then awarded a gold medal for heroism.
1913: “Our Southern Highlanders by Horace Kephart was published.
1913: Champion Paper puts its sawmill village into full operation in Sunburst, which thrived for a dozen years during a logging boom on property now the site of Lake Logan.
July 1, 1913: Grove Park Inn opened.
1914: The picturesque Jackson County courthouse is completed in Sylva.
July 18, 1915: Judge B.F. Long convicted 12 bootleggers, said Asheville is infested, and there must be a secret trust.
August 4, 1915: Asheville Country Club hosts its first annual invitation golf tournament.
1916: British musicologist Cecil Sharp came to Madison County and collected many folk songs from Jane Hicks Gentry.
Feb. 21, 1916. The largest earthquake in N.C. history takes place in Waynesville.
May 18, 1916: Kiffin Rockwell of Asheville became the first American to shoot down an enemy plane in WWI.
July 16, 1916: The Great Flood.
1917: West Asheville, incorporated in 1889, was consolidated into the city of Asheville by referendum.
1917: S.B. Penick & Co., the world’s largest distributor of botanical medicines, sets up its largest warehouse in Asheville, drawing on the herb collecting of mountaineers.
1918: Many die in influenza epidemic.
1918. The U.S. Secretary of War authorized the construction of a large tuberculosis hospital in Oteen, and it would eventually become the V.A. Hospital.
1920: The Farmers Federation, led by James McClure Jr., was formed as a cooperative to provide market advantages to farmers.
1920: The Western North Carolina Apple Show at Battery Park Hotel highlighted the region’s emergence as an apple producer,.
1920: An all-male Buncombe County electorate ushered Lilian Exum Clement into the North Carolina General Assembly by a vote of 10,368 to 41.
1922: Stevens Lee High School for African American students was built.
1922: The first city plan was developed by Dr. John Nolen.
1923: At the behest of Edith Vanderbilt, Thomas Wadley Raoul, and others, the village of Biltmore Forest was established around its famous country club.
1923: The first lots in Lakeview Park went on sale, developers having harnessed a “crystal mountain rivulet” to form Beaver Lake
1924: 28-year old L.B. Jackson built Western North Carolina’s first skyscraper, the Jackson Building, on the site of W.O. Wolfe’s monument shop.
1925: African American mason James Vester Miller builds the new municipal building, now Asheville Police and Fire Dept., having previously built several churches.
1925: Charles D. Owen moved Beacon Manufacturing to Swannanoa.
1926: The real estate boom Asheville reached its peak, with the value of building permits topping $9 million, compared to $800,000 in 1919.
1927: WWNC begins broadcasting in the new Flatiron Building.
1927: Bascom Lamar Lunsford staged the first annual Mountain Dance and Folk Festival.
1928: The Southern Highlands Handicrafts Guild was organized.
1928: Beaucatcher Tunnel was constructed.
1928: First annual Rhododendron Festival was organized, drawing national attention.
1928: Architect Douglas Ellington completed construction of the city's Art Deco city hall.
1929: The city annexed Biltmore, Kenilworth, parts of Biltmore Forest (later released), South Biltmore, Haw Creek, Chunn’s Cove, Grace, and Lake View Park.
1929: American Enka Company, a huge rayon producing plant, was built by the Dutch, employing up to 3,000 at one time, and building a village for the workers.
1929: Western Carolina Teachers College was chartered, having been founded as a high school in 1889, and due to become Western Carolina University in 1967.
1929: Episcopalian schoolteacher Lucy Morgan founded Penland School of Crafts.
Nov., 1929: Thomas Wolfe’s “Look Homeward, Angel’ hit area book stores.
Mar. 15, 1930: Biltmore Estate opened to the public.
Nov. 20, 1930: Central Bank and Trust Company, in which Asheville and Buncombe County had over $8 million deposited, failed to open for business.
1933: Sol Schulman opened his department store in Sylva at age 19 and ran it for 69 years up until one year before his death.
1933: The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) is established, originally called the Emergency Conservation Works
1933: Black Mountain College was founded, becoming a historic center of avant garde art.
1933: The Western North Carolina livestock market on Riverside Drive opened.
1934: The streetcar era ended, as buses took over and tracks were pulled up.
Jan. 21, 1936: After 5½ years since Asheville’s default, the Debt Resettlement Committee came to an agreement with creditors about the terms of repayment.
1939: The Soco Gap Square Dance Team, led by Sam Love Queen, performed for FDR and the King and Queen of England in the White House.
Sept. 2, 1940: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was dedicated by FDR.
1942: The expansion of war agencies led the Federal government to move its Postal Accounts Division into the Grove Arcade.
1943: The Asheville Colored Hospital opened.
1945: Carl Sandburg and his family moved to Connemara, now part of the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.
1947: Asheville voters approved establishment of legal whiskey stores, repealing Prohibition after 40 years.
1948: The city zoning ordinance was adopted following the formation of the city Planning and Zoning Commission.
March 10, 1948: A fire destroyed the main building of Highland Hospital, killing nine patients, including Zelda Fitzgerald.
Oct., 1950: Patton Avenue was extended into West Asheville, the Smoky Park Bridge was built, and the West Asheville Business Association was formed to prevent destruction of the West Asheville Bridge.
1952: The Asheville Housing Authority was established.
Mar. 6, 1954: Memorial Mission Hospital opened.
1954: WLOS began broadcasting with a transmitter tower atop Mount Pisgah.
1955: Wilma Dykeman publishes “The French Broad.”
1956: The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games were started.
1956: Westgate Mall, the first mall in Western North Carolina, opened.
1957. Tweetsie Railroad theme park opens, featuring Tweetsie Locomotive No. 12, the last of the original 15 coal-fired ET&WNC steam-powered units.
1958: The premiere of the movie, “Thunder Road,” is shown in Asheville
1958: The Metropolitan Planning Board was formed to update the 1922 city plan and oversee urban renewal.
1959: I-40 opened.
1960: The Asheville Area Council on Human Relations was formed.
1960: The Asheville Symphony was established.
1961: The Asheville-Henderson Airport opened.
1962: Maria Beale Fletcher of Asheville was crowned Miss America after having done a tap dance for the talent portion of the competition.
1962: Dogs were prohibited from running loose, according to an ordinance passed by city on July 5th.
1963: Robert Ingle opened the first Ingles supermarket in Asheville.
1964: Northwestern Bank constructed an office skyscraper, now BB&T building.
1964: The new city housing code required a certificate of occupancy when a rental unit turned over.
1968: The Blue Ridge Parkway was dedicated.
1969: Asheville-Biltmore College became part of the state university system, chartered as The University of North Carolina at Asheville.
1969: African American students transfer to Lee Edwards High School to form integrated Asheville High School a few years after other schools in the region had been integrated.
1970: Matthew Bacoate formed Asheville’s first black-owned industry, Afram, Inc.
1971: Construction of the Unitarian Church in Asheville began.
1972: The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) purchased property in The Cove, and in 1987 started creating the Billy Graham Training Center.
1973: Republicans fielded a slate of seven women for city council.
1973: The Asheville Mall opened.
1974: The Civic Center in Asheville opened.
1974: The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, a land trust, was formed.
1974: The Chattooga was designated a Wild and Scenic River.
1976: The Department of Transportation blasted a canyon-sized chunk out of Beaucatcher Mountain, making a path for I-240.
1976: Both Quality Forward, an organization furthering a healthy and beautiful environment, and the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County were formed.
1977: City Council approved Akzona’s plan for a downtown headquarters, which resulted in the demolition of north Pack Square buildings.
1978: Federal tax credits were made available to developers who renovated historic buildings.
1979: Asheville residents approved the sale of mixed drinks.
1979: Downtown Asheville was entered into the National Register of Historic Places.
1979: Bon Marche, the premiere downtown Asheville department store, leaves that location.
1979: First Bele Chere festival.
1979: Givens Estates, a large, multi-functional housing development for the elderly, opened.
1979: The Bank of Asheville, the last locally owned bank in Asheville, was absorbed by N.C. National Bank.
1980: I-240 was dedicated.
1980--The Planning & Zoning Commission designated an 11-block area of the city “blighted,” clearing a path for the Strouse-Greenberg Mall, the construction of which would be prevented in part by the Save Downtown Asheville movement.
1982: Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe opened.
1982: “Places Rated Almanac” named Asheville was the most livable small city in the country.
1983: A Zuchelli, Hunter and Associates study of Wall Street led to a remaking of the district; a parking garage is built in 1987, and Jubilee! moved into its space in 1989.
1984: A Federal nuclear waste dump proposal for the Sandy Mush area was defeated by area residents and the newly formed WNC Alliance.
1985: The renovation of the old Bon Marche and Ivey’s building into the Haywood Park Hotel signaled the beginning of new investment in downtown Asheville.
1985: Corner Cupboard Antiques Mall moved from Wall Street to Lexington Avenue, initiating the development of an antiques mecca in downtown Asheville.
1987: The city drafted the 2010 plan.
1988: RiverLink was incorporated to spearhead the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River.
1988: Mountain Housing Opportunities was formed, building affordable homes in the River Arts District and elsewhere.
1989: Voters rejected a bond to build a treatment plant to use the French Broad River for drinking water.
1989: The North Carolina General Assembly named the Plott Hound the official State Dog.
1992: Pack Place Education, Arts and Science Center opened.
1994: Highland Brewing begins brewing beer at their brewery on Biltmore Avenue.
1995: Tourism became Buncombe County’s leading business.
2000: The We Still Pray movement emerged at football stadiums in Buncombe County.
2009: Tiger Woods announced designing a golf course for the gated community, the Cliffs at High Carolina.
2009: Hotel Indigo opens in Asheville, the first major hotel there in 20 years, setting off a flurry of hotel building downtown.
2010: The Dillsboro Dam, built in 1913, was demolished.
2011: The first LGBT festival is held in Pack Square.
2012: After many inconclusive tests since 1985, the Environmental Protection Agency put the CTS site in Skyland on its National Priorities List.
2014: The Asheville area was branded Foodtopia, in part because of the farm-to-table movement.