Taking you on an adventure this time around, we have a guest blog from my parents (Pinecrest Bed and Breakfast resident innkeepers), who ventured out with some friends of theirs visiting from Indiana. There isn’t a better way for them to get a good feel for our fair city than to hop aboard a historic trolley tour.
And so, off they went to the Asheville Visitor Center to board the Gray Line Trolley. The Visitors center is 5 blocks from this Asheville Inn. The trolley tours are fully narrated by a professional tour guide, who is well versed in historic tid bits about the city of Asheville. One great thing about taking the trolley is that you get to let someone else hold the wheel – letting the driver worry about traffic and parking and allowing you to enjoy the sights without causing any traffic mishaps. Plus, the ticket is good for 2 consecutive days and you are allowed to hop off the trolley at any one of the stops and get back on when you feel like it. Every 30 minutes the trolley glides by each stop. The cost is 21.00 per adult and 10.00 for children ages 5 – 11. They also offer AAA and AARP discounts of 2.00 per ticket. For your convenience we sell the tickets from our Asheville bed and breakfast .
After departing the Visitor Center, the trolley made its way through the Montford Historic District, which just so happens to be where our Asheville Bed and Breakfast is located. This District Montford retains more than 600 buildings, most of which were built between 1890 and 1920, and includes a variety of architectural influences reflecting the cosmopolitan character of Asheville during the turn of the 20th century.
Famous Asheville architect (and supervising architect of the Biltmore House) Richard Sharp Smith designed many of the residential homes in Montford. Smith’s architectural leanings contribute to the character of this area.
Montford has always been primarily residential, but also has a history of including several board houses and sanitariums (for the treatment of tuberculosis and other ailments) included in the neighborhood mix. In recent years, Montford has developed into a bed and breakfast community with numerous inns included in the mix.
Also within the Montford Historic District is Asheville’s Riverside Cemetery, It is the cemetery where you will find the final resting place for Thomas Wolfe and William Sydney Porter (better known as O. Henry) as well as Confederate General Robert B. Vance and North Carolina Governor Zebulon Vance, among other Asheville luminaries.
The large houses that line the streets of this neighborhood reflect a more prosperous time in Asheville. Montford and Pinecrest Bed and Breakfast is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The district is located an easy walk or bike ride from downtown Asheville.
Unfortunately, it misses passing our inn — also a “Robert Sharp Smith” — by a block. Their trolley cruised by an old home which years ago was a sanitarium. It is where Zelda Fitzgerald, the beautiful debutante flapper from Alabama who inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age stories was a patient and where she died in March of 1948.
After leaving Montford, the trolley meandered through the Grove Park neighborhood until it reached the Grove Park Inn. It is here that George Vanderbilt stayed during his first trip to Asheville. My parents and their friends decided to jump off the trolley and check out the Grove Park Inn, more specifically the spectacular view of the mountains from the terrace. The trolley guide informed them it was this terrace where George Vanderbilt looked out and decided he would buy all the land he could see.
Next stop: the Thomas Wolfe House. Your trolley ticket allows you free admission to the historic home where the writer, Thomas Wolfe lived as a boy. Mr. Wolfe is also buried at the Riverside Cemetery. Hopping back on board, the trolley headed toward downtown and into Pack Square. Following the depression, many art deco buildings were constructed and through the years the city has tried to retain the architectural heritage by maintaining and restoring these beautiful structures. After driving through the square the trolley made its way over to the Haywood Hotel. Everyone was ready to stretch their legs so they hopped off and wandered around downtown for a while. They strolled through the Woolworth building which houses 2 floors of artist galleries and an old fashion soda fountain. They then crossed the street and indulged in some sinfully delicious chocolate at the Chocolate Fetish, a local Chocolatier,some might say “chocolate artists.”
Rejoining their fellow tourists, and a few locals enjoying the tour, the trolley made its way down toward the French Broad River. The River Arts District is currently experiencing a major resurgence and is quite the happening place these days. Several breweries are moving in and more restaurants are surfacing in this lively center of art, artists, galleries and studios.
The trolley then headed south to Biltmore Village. Biltmore Village was built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1890′s as a classic planned community at the entrance to the Biltmore Estate. Today the Village is a cottage community of shops, restaurants and art galleries. At this point everyone was getting hungry so they departed the trolley and walked around the Village, which has tree-lined streets and brick sidewalks. They ended up at Chelsea’s Tea Room for afternoon tea and finger sandwiches. They sat outside in the lovely courtyard and despite the warm temperatures they really enjoyed themselves…even the men. As they strolled back to the trolley stop they passed some of the original buildings, such as All Souls Church (now All Souls Cathedral) the church built for the Vanderbilt’s, the old train depot which is now a restaurant, and some of the original estate cottages.
Although you can take the entire tour in about an hour and a half, this little adventure took all of 5 hours. Crazy kids!
For more information or to book a room visit www.pinecrestbb.com or call 888-811-3053.