Tours - Suspended

Take a self-guided tour through Buck House. Built in 1840, it is Asheville’s oldest surviving brick home.


Visit our virtual exhibits, 1918 vs. 2020, Hillbillyland, and Douglas Ellington. Check back regularly as we make more content available digitally.

Special Events

We offer a variety of events throughout the year from book club to excursions to lectures. 


Since the 1950s, we have annually presented the Thomas Wolfe Literary and Outstanding Achievement Awards.

Youth Programs

Area educators can check out one of our many travelling trunks or bring their students to our Living History Days.


Our archival and object collections rotate on and off display in our period rooms and changing exhibits.

George Avery - age 71

Image: George Avery, 1917
Formerly enslaved by the McDowell family, Avery became caretaker of the South Asheville Cemetery after emancipation.



The Western North Carolina Historical Association celebrates the enduring stories that define and shape our region. Through special exhibits and tours of the Smith-McDowell House, we strive to celebrate the stories of people from all backgrounds who have called western North Carolina home, with one key goal — to advance the understanding of our shared history.

Caroline, Lizzie, and their parents, Bob and Lidia

c1840 Caroline is born. Caroline was likely enslaved by the Smith family from the moment of her birth.February 9, 1850James M. Smith’s will, written February 9, 1850, is the first mention we have found relating to Caroline, a child he enslaved.Last Will and Testament,...

Tilda, Joe, and their children

In 1850, a woman named Tilda was enslaved by the Smith family of Asheville. It is likely that she and her family were held captive on the grounds of Buck House, our facility. At this time, Tilda was married to Joe, a wagoner. It is likely that Joe transported goods in...

Rebecca and her daughter Charlotte

Last Will and Testament of James M. Smith, Asheville, NC Codicil dated January 7, 1854"...I further direct that the girl Caroline in said will given to my daughter Sarah L McDowell be given to my daughter Jane Cordelia and in her stead I give to the said Sarah L a...

George Avery – Blacksmith, Union Soldier, Cemetery Caretaker

In 1865, George Avery was a 19-year-old blacksmith enslaved by the McDowell family. It is likely he was born in to slavery, given his young age.  McDowell family stories say that George was freed by William McDowell in April 1865, who realized the Confederacy was...

Lou Bradley

Who was Louisa Bradley? We first find mention of her in the Asheville City Directory for 1883-1884 as working as a housemaid for W.W. McDowell. By 1883, the McDowell family had sold what is now known as the Smith-McDowell House on the A-B Tech campus to the Garrett...

Historic Landmarks: Past & Future

Asheville is justifiably proud of its 1920s art deco downtown. A result of the Great Depression was a dearth of new construction for the next fifty years as Asheville repaid its debts. A fortuitous side effect of this fiscal austerity was the preservation of what is...

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