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Richmond Hill House

Photo courtesy of Richmond Hill House

The Richmond Hill House is located northwest of Asheville on a bluff high above the French Broad River. The Victorian mansion was built in 1889 as the private residence of ambassador and congressman Richmond Pearson. Considered one of the most elegant and innovative buildings of its time, the house was designed by James G. Hill of Washington D.C., Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury in the 1870s and 1880s. The site of the estate, originally purchased by Richmond Pearson's father, was part of 820 acres inherited by Richmond Pearson and his four siblings.

[photo] Historic view of Richmond Hill House
Photo courtesy of North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina

By 1879, Pearson had spent nearly $3,000 purchasing his siblings' shares and held full title to the property. In 1882, Richmond married Gabrielle Thomas and a few years later, the couple moved to Asheville and decided to build a home on the estate. Despite being a 30 minute carriage ride away from Asheville, Richmond Hill was a center of social and political activity for many years. The Queen Anne style mansion could accommodate large gatherings and Richmond's beautiful and vivacious wife, Gabrielle, was a gracious hostess. After Richmond's death in 1923 and Gabrielle's death in 1924, the estate was left to their two children Marjorie Noel and James Thomas Pearson.

The Oak Hall in Richmond Hill House

Photo courtesy of the Richmond Hill Inn

The house remained closed for nearly 27 years until Marjorie and Thomas returned, made some renovations and opened it to the public as a museum in 1953. Both Thomas and his father collected valuable objects from all over the world. These objects, combined with family heirlooms and antiques awed visitors to Richmond Hill, many of whom were conducted through the house by Thomas Pearson himself. Neither Marjorie nor Thomas ever married. Before Thomas's death in 1963, he and his sister sold the remaining Pearson property along the French Broad River, including 29 acres of the Richmond Hill tract, to developers of the Bingham Heights residential community. Following Marjorie's death in 1972, the Pearson family sold Richmond Hill to the Western North Carolina Baptist Retirement Home. After many years as a focal point in the community, the mansion faced demolition in 1978. In an effort to preserve and rehabilitate Richmond Hill, the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County moved the house 600 feet from its original location in 1984, on land that was part of the original estate. The Mansion was reopened as an inn in 1989. In 2005, the inn was sold to William Gray who fell behind on his mortgage payments. The inn was subsequently foreclosed. The house was destroyed by a fire on March 19th 2009 due supposedly to arson. In February of 2010, the inn ceased operations and was demolished.

The Richmond Hill House is located at 87 Richmond Hill Dr. The inn is no longer available to the public since it was destroyed.

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