When Montford was incorporated in 1893, its population was only about 50, consisting mostly of retirees, a few tradesmen, and household servants. James Edwin Rumbough (1861-1941), who lived with his family in his mansion on Zillicoa Street, today’s Rumbough House, was Montford’s first and only mayor, serving until Montford’s annexation by Asheville in 1904.
In 1892, an electric streetcar line extended north on Montford Avenue to Chestnut Street and then further on Cumberland Avenue to Montford Park.
When Asheville was rapidly growing during that time, so was Montford. Businesspeople, lawyers, local politicians, retirees, doctors, and architects built their houses in this neighborhood.
However, most of Montford’s residents were not native to Asheville or Buncombe County. 75% of them came from other cities in North Carolina, neighboring and distant states and even from abroad. This mix of backgrounds drove Montford to adopt trends in domestic architecture relatively more sophisticated in character than those found in comparable suburbs in North Carolina.
In addition to private residences, Montford also attracted a few sanatoria, the most prominent being the Highland Hospital, a psychiatric clinic.
Adjacent to the residential area was the Riverside Cemetery, which was established in 1885 on 87 acres of rolling hills.
To this day, Montford remains a sought after neighborhood for all the same reasons, which once drove its growth. Many of these historic and magnificently restored homes have been turned into beautiful B&Bs and Inns, which guests can now enjoy.