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[photo] Historic views of Manor Inn neighborhood
Photos courtesy of North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina

The Manor and Cottages compose a picturesque small historic district, evocative of Asheville's dramatic turn-of-the-century resort town boom era. The Manor, a resort with an English inn atmosphere conceived by Thomas Wadley Raoul and his father William Greene Raoul, was begun in 1898 on a 32-acre tract of land acquired by the elder Raoul, a railroad magnate. To compete against the lucrative hotels and numerous boarding houses in Asheville, the Raoul family also developed a village of individually designed cottages adjoining the Manor, one of the Nation's earliest planned residential parks. Suffering from tuberculosis, Thomas Raoul moved to Asheville and oversaw the development of Albemarle Park, the dignified name his mother chose for the complex.

[photo] Two of the cottages, including the blue Dutch Colonial Galax Cottage
Photos courtesy of Historic Resource Commission, City of Asheville, North Carolina

Much of the special qualities of the buildings erected between 1898 and 1920 comes from a remarkable palette of residential designs and their integration into the mountain landscape. Working in close collaboration with the Raouls, architect Bradford Gilbert created individually designed cottages that each bear a distinctive design reflecting the eclectic character of the Manor with various combinations of Shingle, Tudoresque, and Colonial Revival styles. Landscape architect Samuel Parsons, Jr. created a superbly planned landscape that takes maximum advantage of the natural mountain setting. Parsons found the site to a be a challenge, offering him opportunities to incorporate its rugged terrain, sweeping vistas, native stands of trees and woodland vegetation as character defining features. Albemarle Park was a groundbreaking achievement for its time because of Parsons's successful manipulation of slopes that averaged a 20 percent gradient. He approached the landscape design with a sensitivity to the property's natural beauty and worked to ensure that the overall effect be picturesque and provide each cottage with a "miniature park."

Manor Inn and Gatehouse

Photos courtesy of City Development, City of Asheville, North Carolina

Gilbert was the logical choice to design the Manor, the lodge (gatehouse), and several of the early cottages because of his work with the senior Raoul on a number of railroad projects. Working with the Raouls allowed Gilbert the freedom to experiment with revival styles at the height of their popularity in the early 1900s. Galax and Rosebank, cottages of the Dutch Colonial Styles, use cantilevered gambrel roofs and wood shingles as siding and roof materials. An example of the half-timbered Tudor style is Clover cottage, which features pebbledash (stone-textured stucco) and pegged timbering. The Shingle style expressed the English concept in cottages like Milfoil, and is covered in wood shingles with heavy timber posts and bracketing. Several buildings call upon the romantic interpretation of the rustic Appalachian architecture, like Crow's Nest and Manzanita that use wood shingles, tree limbs for porch supports and details and rough stonework. The floor plans combine several sleeping rooms with one central living room. Kitchens and dining rooms were not needed, as the summer guests ate all their meals at the Manor. Additional residences were built during subsequent years for private use. While it cannot be determined exactly what buildings in Albemarle Park benefited from Gilbert's expertise after he designed the Manor Inn, a noticeable change in style can be detected after his death in 1911. Architect Neil Reed of Atlanta and Richard Sharp Smith, supervising architect of the Biltmore Estate, continued the pleasant European village atmosphere created by Gilbert and Parsons, with the same touch of the Romantic and Victorian era. Today, the Manor and Cottages district remains intact and survives as an example of the picturesque resort development so important to the history of the North Carolina Mountains. Through the years the cottages became year-round homes and the vacation resort grew into a residential neighborhood.

The Manor and Cottages are located off Charlotte St. on Cherokee, Terrace, Orchard, Canterbury, and Quarry rds., Orchard Pl., Banbury Cross and the Circle. The cottages are private residences and not open to the public. The Clubhouse and the Gatehouse accommodate commercial enterprises.

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