Updated: April 2019
Unusual and Creative Design
The Frances Apartments building was constructed in 1926 for Benjamin Humphreys Holder (1866-1947) by an unknown architect. According to Richard Hansley, the design is considered “one of the most fanciful and expressive” in the historic Montford District.
Benjamin Holder was the son of William Dunbar Holder (1824-1900) and Catherine Theresa Bowles Holder (1837-1887).
William Dunbar Holder (1824-1900)
Benjamin’s father William Holder started as a U.S. district clerk in Mississippi, later became a deputy U.S. marshal and in 1853 was elected to the lower house of the Mississippi legislature. When the American Civil War began in 1861, he entered Confederate Service as a captain, was wounded at Malvern Hill and a second time at the battle of Gettysburg, where he was shot through the abdomen, which resulted in permanent disability. In 1863, William Holger was elected to the Second Congress, which he later left to start farming. From 1886 to his death in 1900 he was employed in the office of the auditor of public accounts in Jackson MS.
The Frances Apartments
Benjamin Holder dedicated this two-and-a-half story building to either his wife, Frances Ragesdale “Fannie” Sykes Holder (1877-1936), or to their only daughter Frances Sykes Holder (1899-1900), who had died, one year after she was born.
Richard Hansley in his excellent book about Asheville’s Historic Architecture describes The Frances Apartments as follows:
“The symmetrical façade features two-story rectangular wings set into three-story gabled end bays. A centrally located gabled dormer, unusual in its configuration, sits between twin pyramidal roofed dormers. All of the gables feature large scalloped bargeboards, a tribute to the invention of the scroll saw. Windows are steel casement, with flat arch lintels composed of angled brick soldier courses with a horizontal brick keystone.
The coarse, uneven texture of the brick walls was created by applying an excess of mortar and allowing it to drip down the sides of the brick and harden. By choosing bricks that varied in color and shading and allowing random projections from the wall, the architect created the appearance of a tapestry.
Over the main entrance’s angular arch, the apartment’s name in bas-relief is placed, utilizing a distinctive Art Nouveau script.”
333 Cumberland Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801
STREET VIEWING ONLY. Private property.
Public bus stop: Montford Ave at Panola St.