Updated: April 2019
Tastefully Designed Cottages
When Richard M. Hunt and Frederick L. Olmsted envisioned Biltmore Village in the early 1890s, they wanted Biltmore Village to become self-sufficient. Although the estate owned the houses, they leased them to the residents, many of whom also worked for the estate - at least in the earlier years. By 1911, the village was still home to many tradespeople and workers, who provided all kinds of services to the estate. However, by this time, more and more residents worked in other parts of Asheville or enterprises not connected to the estate.
Asheville’s First Streetcar Line
That residents of Biltmore Village could work in Asheville instead of just for the estate was probably facilitated by the introduction of the first streetcar-line in 1889, which connected the Southern Railway Depot in Biltmore Village with Pack Square in downtown Asheville, a distance of about 2 miles. In the 18 years following its introduction, the streetcar system in Asheville expanded and grew to include more destinations. In 1907 it carried 3 million streetcar passengers a year, far outpacing Charlotte and Wilmington, which had 2 million each.
The first cottages were built by 1901 and were based on designs of Richard Sharpe Smith (1852-1924), who had become George Vanderbilt’s personal architect after Richard M. Hunt’s death in 1895.
These cottages were modern for their time. They all had bathrooms. Steam and open fireplaces provided heating. The cottages came in four basic types:
Cottage with one-bay recessed porch and two-story gable-end projection.
Cottage with two-bay recessed porch, hipped roof dormer, and two-story gable-end projection.
Cottage with two-bay recessed porch, gambrel roof and shed dormers.
Cottage with a gable-end façade.
The National Register of Historic Places states: “All are one-and-one-half to two-story pebble-dash cottages with recessed porches, multiple gables, steeply pitched roofs, simply molded trim, one or more brick chimneys, and brick foundations. Half-timbering, clipped gable dormers, shed dormers, gambrel roofs, small brackets on porch posts, and twelve-over-twelve sash occur on many of the dwellings. No two cottages are exactly alike, though in some cases they are closely similar or even mirror images.”
About Richard Sharpe Smith (1852-1924)
In 1852 Richard Sharpe Smith was born in Yorkshire, England. He received his architectural training in the office of his cousin George Smith. He also worked for several architects in Manchester.
In 1882 Richard Smith immigrated to the United States and started his new position with the Reid Brothers, architects, in Evansville, Indiana.
In 1883 Richard Smith moved to New York City and joined Bradford L. Gilbert’s office, where he supervised the design and construction of railroad stations.
In 1886 Richard Smith joined the office of Richard Morris Hunt working on various projects for Richard Hunt.
In 1889 Hunt assigned Richard Smith to the Biltmore Project supervising the construction of → Biltmore House and other buildings on George Vanderbilt’s estate. Richard Smith was sent to Biltmore and communicated with Richard Hunt, who remained in his New York office, through weekly progress reports and frequent letters.
Starting in 1892 George Vanderbilt asked Richard Smith to design additional buildings for him.
In 1895, the same year, when → Biltmore House was finished, Richard Hunt suddenly died, and Richard Smith became George Vanderbilt’s personal architect.
In 1896 the Vance Memorial, which Richard Smith designed, was completed.
By 1901 the first cottages in the Cottage District in Biltmore Village were built.
In 1901 Richard Smith established his private practice in fast-growing Asheville. Through his abilities as an architect and indeed through his association with George Vanderbilt, Richard Smith became one of Asheville’s leading architects, and the first, who resided permanently in the city. During this time, Richard Smith designed the Henderson County Courthouse in Hendersonville (1905) and together with Rafael Guastavino the Basilica of Saint Lawrence (1905-1909).
In 1906 Richard Smith formed a partnership with Albert Heath Carrier, whose family had moved to Asheville in 1885, and formed the Smith and Carrier firm. Together the firm worked on more than 700 projects from its inception to Richard Smith’s death in 1924. Some of their essential works were the Legal Building (1909), the Scottish Rite Cathedral and Masonic Temple (1913), the Fraternal Order of Eagles Building (1914), the Elks Home (1915) and the Loughran Building (1923).
In 1924, Richard Smith died. He was praised by the local newspaper Asheville Citizen to have “done more than any other person to beautify the city.”
2 Boston Way, Asheville, NC 28803
3 Boston Way, Asheville, NC 28803
5 Boston Way, Asheville, NC 28803
6 Boston Way, Asheville, NC 28803
2 All Souls Crescent, Asheville, NC 28803
4 All Souls Crescent, Asheville, NC 28803
5 All Souls Crescent, Asheville, NC 28803
6 All Souls Crescent, Asheville, NC 28803
7 All Souls Crescent, Asheville, NC 28803
10 All Souls Crescent, Asheville, NC 28803
12 All Souls Crescent, Asheville, NC 28803
1 Swan Street, Asheville, NC 28803
3 Swan Street, Asheville, NC 28803
STREET VIEWING ONLY.
Free street parking.
Public bus stop: Lodge Street at Biltmore Ave.
Stop Gray Line Historic Trolley: 5 Boston Way (at the store Olde World Christmas Shoppe)