South Montreat Road Historic District
The South Montreat Road Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The South Montreat Road Historic District in the mountain town of Black Mountain, North Carolina encompasses the residential neighborhood that developed in the early twentieth century along the road to the Presbyterian Church retreat community of Montreat to the north of downtown Black Mountain. The South Montreat Road Historic District extends approximately 0.3-mile along Montreat Road and forms a linear district with a mix of twentieth century architectural styles, including well-detailed Craftsman Bungalows and post-World War II houses. The South Montreat Road Historic District typically features small, fairly level lots with mature trees on both sides of the road, gravel driveways, and low river rock retaining walls. North of its intersection with State Street (US Route 70) in downtown Black Mountain, Montreat Road (NC Route 9) extends north and northeast approximately 1.5 miles to the entrance of Montreat, a religious education and conference center formed in the late nineteenth century. Despite the linear character of the district, the South Montreat Road Historic District maintains a density of development that is consistent with other pre-1960 residential areas in town and a visual continuity that begins to change dramatically north of the intersection of Montreat Road and Beech Street. Continuing north along the road from Beech Street to the Montreat entrance gate, development becomes more varied with larger residential lots, a few small commercial properties, apartments, and an increased amount of late-twentieth century construction.
The intersection of State Street and NC 9 (Broadway Avenue to the south of State Street and Montreat Road to the north) forms an important traffic center in Black Mountain, with the downtown commercial district (National Register, 2004) lying to the south between State Street and the railroad tracks. The first two blocks of Montreat Road north of the intersection are similarly developed with commercial buildings, town offices and public safety facilities, and the Black Mountain Presbyterian Church. The South Montreat Road Historic District begins approximately 0.2-mile north of downtown Black Mountain. North of its intersection with Laurel Circle Drive, Montreat Road becomes primarily residential in character with the large, open lot of the First Baptist Church helping to mark the transition into a residential section that reflects the town's prosperity in the early and mid-twentieth century.
The South Montreat Road Historic District is characterized by a mix of one- and two-story houses on small (less than one-half acre) lots, a two-story four-unit apartment building, and a large church facility with extensive grounds. The houses are primarily frame construction with weatherboards, German siding, and wood shingles, or later vinyl and asbestos shingles. A few brick and stone veneer dwellings appear within the district, and river rock is frequently used for foundations, porch piers, porch steps, and retaining walls. The historic outbuildings are typically detached frame garages or sheds. The older houses are located on the west side of the road, with a greater concentration of mid-twentieth century dwellings on the east side. The area contains portions of three early-twentieth century plats of property belonging to the heirs of S.F. Dougherty, Robert Owen Alexander, the Kerlee family, and J.W. McKoy.
The South Montreat Road Historic District consists of forty-six total resources, including thirty-four contributing buildings. Of the twelve non-contributing resources in the district, three are primary resources and the remaining nine are associated outbuildings and structures. The three non-contributing primary resources include one house constructed after the period of significance and two significantly altered dwellings. The South Montreat Road Historic District also includes two vacant lots that are associated with an adjacent residence and only identifiable on tax maps.
A contributing building, site, or structure adds to the historic associations, architectural qualities, or archaeological values for which the district is significant. Contributing resources add to the South Montreat Road Historic District's significance because they were present during the period of significance, relate to its documented historical significance, and possess historic integrity. A noncontributing building, site, or structure does not add to the historic associations, architectural significance, or archaeological values of the district. Noncontributing resources do not add to the district's significance because they were not present during the period of significance, do not relate to the documented historical significance, or no longer possess historic integrity due to alterations, disturbances, or other changes.
The South Montreat Road Historic District in Black Mountain, North Carolina encompasses the residential area that developed along Montreat Road north of downtown during the early and mid-twentieth century. The South Montreat Road Historic District's historic resources reflect the town's prosperity following the connection of a railroad line in 1880 and periods of growth in the twentieth century largely associated with tourism in Black Mountain. Beginning in the late-nineteenth century, Black Mountain served as the gateway for visitors to Mount Mitchell, as well as religious retreats and summer camps that were founded nearby. The majority of resources in the South Montreat Road Historic District date from between 1920 and 1930, mirroring the rapid growth experienced elsewhere in Asheville and Buncombe County, and a second period following World War II that demonstrates the ongoing development and popularity of the community. The South Montreat Road Historic District meets National Register criterion for architecture. The locally-significant district contains houses designed in a mix of nationally-popular architectural styles — Craftsman, Colonial Revival, Minimal Traditional, and Ranch — common to early and mid-twentieth century residential neighborhoods in North Carolina. The residential district also includes a 1949-1957 Classical Revival church complex and a 1940 two-story apartment building that complement the overall character of the neighborhood. The period of significance for the South Montreat Road Historic District begins in ca. 1900 soon after the road was graded and the first houses constructed, and it ends in 1960, the year in which this section of Montreat Road was largely built out.
The town of Black Mountain began around 1880 with the completion of the Western North Carolina Railroad (WNCRR) over Swannanoa Gap and into Asheville, the county seat of Buncombe County eighteen miles to the west. First known as "Grey Eagle" by early-nineteenth century settlers, the town began developing in the 1880s around the depot, which the WNCRR named "Black Mountain Station." The town's name was officially changed to Black Mountain when it incorporated in 1893. With the establishment of regular rail service, Black Mountain grew primarily as a tourist destination. The Black Mountains had gained notoriety in the 1830s and 1850s through the explorations of Elisha Mitchell and Thomas Clingman, who sought to establish the elevation of the highest peak in the eastern United States. Excursions to the summit of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, attracted the first hearty travelers to the area in the late-nineteenth century.
Following incorporation in 1893, the town aldermen ordered a survey of Black Mountain's existing streets as a small commercial district began to take shape around the depot. One of the town's earliest businessmen, Silas F. Dougherty, operated a general store and post office from his home, located along present day State Street, where the mail was received by stagecoach. James McKoy operated a general store with boarding on the second story on the south side of the railroad tracks opposite the depot and, in 1890, replaced his original frame building with a two-story brick structure, one of the earliest remaining buildings in town. Although new businesses contributed to the settlement of the town, it was the popularity of Black Mountain as a destination for travelers in the region that drove the development of the town.
The turn of the century in Black Mountain saw the establishment of other resorts and attractions to fuel the town's tourist industry. The Mountain Retreat Association, founded in 1897 by an interdenominational group of ministers, purchased 4,500 acres of forest two miles north of Black Mountain for a religious retreat. A road (present-day Montreat Road) was graded to connect Black Mountain with the retreat property. In 1905, the Presbyterian Church acquired the wooded campus, known as Montreat, as a summer retreat and educational center. The church-sponsored Montreat Normal School opened in 1916 on the grounds of Montreat, and the name was later changed to Montreat College, reflecting the institution's evolution into a four-year program. Two miles east of town, the Southern Baptist Assembly founded Ridgecrest in 1907, a retreat located at Terrell station near the crest of the ridge at Swannanoa Gap. Two miles southwest of town, Blue Ridge Assembly (NR, 1979) was established in 1906 by the YMCA of the South. In the first decades of the twentieth century a Methodist colony was planned northwest of town, which drew a number of families to the area. Alas, the Methodist Episcopal Church conference selected a site in Haywood County and in 1913 the Lake Junaluska Assembly opened as the Methodist retreat center.
The timber industry, another important component of Black Mountain's economy, also helped to support the tourist industry. The widespread cutting and clearing of virgin forests on the Black and Craggy mountain ranges did not deter visitors from enjoying the scenery, and timbering activity may have, in fact, encouraged visitation by providing open, scenic vistas and long-range views of the mountains, as well as greater access to the upper elevations. In 1911, C.A. Dickey and J.C. Campbell, lumbermen from Virginia, purchased the timber rights to 9,000 acres on the southern and eastern slopes of the Black Mountains. They constructed a logging railroad from Black Mountain through the upper part of the Montreat property to the high-altitude forests of the Black Mountain range. The railroad connected to the Southern Railway line approximately one mile east of town and extended for twenty miles toward the summit of Mount Mitchell. A lumber mill employing a large number of laborers living in and around Black Mountain was erected at the intersection of the two lines. In 1915 Perley and Crockett of Pennsylvania took over the logging and railroad operations and, in addition to transporting cut trees, they used the railroad as an excursion train to carry visitors to Camp Alice near the summit of Mount Mitchell. Logging operations continued until around 1921, after which time the railroad bed was remade into an automobile road.
Concurrent with the increased travel to Mount Mitchell, Black Mountain experienced significant growth and development during the 1910s and 1920s. The small town was already the third largest municipality in the county, behind Asheville and Weaverville. In 1912, the town hosted 600 summer visitors, which was nearly double the year-round population of 311. Most of the one- and two-story brick commercial buildings along Cherry Street, extending north from the depot to State Street, were erected in the 1910s. Black Mountain was the first township in Buncombe County to support macadamized roads, voting for $40,000 in bonds to be used for this work. In 1916, Cherry Street and Sutton Avenue (former Depot Street) were the first roads to be paved, along with Highway No.10 (present day State Street) through Black Mountain. In addition to the improved roads, other amenities were added including water and sewer service, electricity, telephone service, and an ice plant.
Developers also began to plan and encourage future growth by platting residential neighborhoods. Most of the early houses in town were located along the principal transportation corridors, which continued to be the case in the early twentieth century as the first streets to be paved were those that were already well established. The Black Mountain Hotel Company platted several large pieces of land in 1900, including one of the earliest subdivisions on Vance and Blue Ridge avenues east of downtown. C.P. Kerlee, and other members of the Kerlee family, platted various pieces of land around town, including several tracts located near the railroad and Flat Creek, which flows on the eastern and southern edges of town. A 1912 plat delineated a settlement between E.J. Kerlee and J.W. McKoy for parcels located along Montreat Road and Church Street (Plat 154/184). The majority of the Kerlee and McKoy property covered lots along Church Street, but the five northernmost lots of the plat represent the southernmost properties in the South Montreat Road Historic District. Another developer, Robert Owen (R.O.) Alexander, owned and platted land along Montreat Road between 1908 and 1915, particularly around its intersection with North Fork Road and to the north. The extensive property of Silas Dougherty, valued at more than $11,000 in 1913, was surveyed, platted, and divided among five heirs (Plat 154/106). The Dougherty property contained many residential lots immediately north of downtown along Church, Connally, and Dougherty streets and Montreat Road. The Dougherty property was separated into two sections located to the north and south of the Kerlee and McKoy plat, and the northern portion of the Dougherty property encompassed several blocks of Montreat Road within the district.
The effects of the economic depression that gripped the nation in the 1930s wrought considerable turmoil across western North Carolina. Bank failures in Asheville had a ripple effect throughout the county. However, as part of President Franklin Roosevelt's economic recovery and relief programs, Black Mountain, like most of the region, benefitted from the nationwide economic development programs that helped put the country back to work. The Works Progress Administration (WPA), one of President Roosevelt's New Deal programs, built Lake Tomahawk — including a recreation center, swimming pool, and golf course — on the proposed site of the Methodist colony. The WPA also initiated construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the 1930s, and the construction of this major scenic road proved to be a tremendous asset for the region. The route of the Blue Ridge Parkway passed to the north and west of Black Mountain, thereby usurping the town's role as the gateway to Mount Mitchell. On the whole, however, the Parkway drew large numbers of tourists and travelers into western North Carolina.
In the period following the Depression and the end of World War II, Black Mountain experienced a period of resurgence as new homes were built for returning soldiers and new families and Americans resumed their leisure pursuits. As travel and recreation became increasingly common in the post-war period, visitors to western North Carolina found new and improved roads throughout the region. Highway 70, which passed through the middle of Black Mountain, was extended to the east to connect with Old Fort, located over the mountain in neighboring McDowell County. Broadway Avenue was opened and stretched from the south end of Montreat Road to the railroad tracks near the freight depot. In the second-half of the twentieth century, Broadway Avenue was connected with Lakey Avenue on the south side of the tracks to create a new access point into downtown Black Mountain. The new street patterned allowed for a more direct flow of traffic from the new Interstate 40 being constructed south of town through downtown, onto Montreat Road, and into Montreat, which was incorporated as a town in 1967. The Montreat Conference Center, much like Baptist center at Ridgecrest and the Blue Ridge Assembly, provided a constant flow of visitors to Black Mountain through the second half of the twentieth century. Montreat Road remains an important link between Black Mountain and Montreat.
The South Montreat Road Historic District's architectural significance resides in the mix of popular twentieth century house forms and architectural styles found in Black Mountain. The variety of residential and church architecture echoes local trends and periods of growth specific to the town, as well as the influence of nationally popular styles introduced by new and seasonal residents to the area. The architectural styles and forms represented in the district were common in Black Mountain from the early twentieth century through the post-World War II period, but the South Montreat Road Historic District is one of only two areas with a concentration of historic resources that possess integrity for the National Register.
Various factors influenced the architectural development of Black Mountain including the important tourism and timber industries. Given the town's small size and scenic surroundings, the general lack of pretentious high-style houses, prevalent use of natural materials, and common bungalow forms contributes to the overall character of its residential neighborhoods. Despite sharing a prolonged period of prosperity from 1880 to 1930 with neighboring Asheville, which became the regional economic and governmental center, Black Mountain retained its small town charm while serving as an important tourist gateway to Mount Mitchell, Montreat, Ridgecrest, and the surrounding scenic areas.
Montreat, the Presbyterian religious assembly community to the north of town, exerted considerable influence on Black Mountain's architecture. Montreat Road was not created until the first attempt to develop the mountain location as an interdenominational retreat in 1897, and a reliable route was needed between Black Mountain and the retreat site, which was purchased by the Presbyterian Synod of North Carolina in 1905. The Montreat assembly grounds and associated college shared facilities and a surrounding colony of summer homes. The core of the assembly buildings featured local river rock construction, which helped to establish "a community-wide building idiom" that spilled over into Black Mountain but was far less common elsewhere in the county. According to former Montreat president Robert C. Anderson, the readily available rocks were collected from streams on the Montreat property. Charles Godfrey of Black Mountain served as contractor for a number of Montreat's river rock buildings. Similarly the seasonal houses built within Montreat often embodied romantic notions of rustic mountain life through the use of log and stone, exposed structural members, wood shingle siding, deep porches, and other elements from the Craftsman style.
The earliest resource located within the South Montreat Road Historic District harkens back to the early period of inns and boarding houses. The ca. 1900 house at 303 Montreat Road is a large two-story, hip-roof frame dwelling with a broad wraparound porch, decorative front gable, and twin interior brick chimneys. Although it is not known to have operated as an inn or boarding house, the overall scale and welcoming double-leaf front doors and sidelights calls to mind the type of houses once opened to guests and travelers. Despite its grand size the house features little exterior embellishment, plain one-over-one double-hung sash, and has been altered with the addition of asbestos shingle siding and decorative wood shutters.
The majority of resources in the South Montreat Road area date from between 1920 and 1930 and reflect the popular Colonial Revival and Craftsman styles of the time, as well as the influence of Montreat in the use of river rock as a building material. The Colonial Revival style gained widespread acceptance for domestic architecture, beginning around the turn of the twentieth century, in response to the overly decorative and fussy forms of the Queen Anne and late Victorian era. Early examples of the Colonial Revival style, however, rarely offered historically correct copies of colonial precedents. Freely interpreted details and proportions from colonial models were applicable to a wide range of house types and forms, which helped the style become the most popular domestic architectural style of the early twentieth century. Dissemination of published sources in the 1910s and 1920s encouraged more historical accuracy, but the economic depression of the 1930s, among other factors, led to a simplification of the style toward the mid-twentieth century.
The L.L. Hines House at 403 Montreat Road, built around 1915, is a neat two-story, front-gable dwelling with an attached Colonial Revival style porch that sits on a brick pier foundation with river rock infill. A one-story, full-width, front-gable porch is supported by plain columns. Wide porch steps are constructed of river rock with rock cheek walls, and a low retaining wall at the front of the property is also constructed of the material. Vinyl siding now covers the original weatherboards and wood shingles in the gable ends. A one-and-a-half story, two-bay detached garage contemporary to the house is covered with German siding and stands to the rear. The ca. 1920 house at 307 Montreat Road appears to be a Dutch Colonial Revival style house dominated by a broad gambrel roof, but the engaged wraparound porch, low turret, and inset second-story balcony suggest a mix of stylistic elements that may also draw from the Shingle style, a later picturesque variation of Queen Anne. The ca. 1945 one-story Hill House at 301 Montreat Road displays a Cape Cod form and high degree of design and craftsmanship. The stone-veneer house features two gabled dormers, setback side wing, exterior end chimney, picture window, and arched entry. A low stone retaining wall along the front of the property and mature vegetation also contribute to the overall sense of durability.
The Craftsman style fits well within the environment of Black Mountain, and many of the houses in the South Montreat Road area are small Bungalows and Craftsman-influenced dwellings. In the early twentieth century the Craftsman style grew from the influence of Gustav Stickley's The Craftsman magazine (1901-1916), itself an outgrowth of the Arts and Crafts movement that spread from England to the United States in the late nineteenth century. Through his magazine, Stickley became the chief disseminator of Arts and Crafts beliefs in the United States, and his company, Craftsman Workshops, produced furniture that promoted design unity of both house and furnishings. He published house designs — complete working drawings and specifications — in The Craftsman that could be ordered from the company. Craftsman houses, as they came to be known, represented the Arts and Crafts ideals of vernacular revival, honest expression of structure, responsiveness to site, and the use of local materials for comfortable domestic architecture that provided "the proper atmosphere for the pursuit of the simple life." These arguments held particular attraction to families looking for a home in mountain communities across western North Carolina.
A number of houses along Montreat Road incorporate many of the elements promoted by Stickley and other proponents of "the Craftsman idea," which asserted that creating a comfortable and secure home environment was the natural antithesis of the commercial and industrial expansion that was perceived by many early-twentieth century reformers to be corrupting the nation and its citizens. Therefore, efforts to simplify the home — a direct response to the Queen Anne and late Victorian styles of the nineteenth century — were concentrated on removing applied ornament from house designs. Stickley and others argued that the beauty inherent in fine craftsmanship and natural materials was sufficient decoration in itself; decoration that emphasized "the fundamental principles of honesty, simplicity and usefulness�." The typical Craftsman elements included a dominant roofline to define the scale of the house, augmented by deep eaves, multiple gables or dormers, eave brackets, exposed rafter tails, porches with bold porch posts, large windows, and convenient open floor plans. In residential architecture, the Craftsman style often employed wood or shingle siding (frequently in combination), unenclosed eave overhangs with exposed roof rafters, decorative beams or brackets in gable ends, and square or tapered porch posts supported by piers extending from above the porch floor to ground level without a break. Doors and windows also typically contained a distinctive glazing pattern with multi-pane areas across the top or multiple lights over a single pane in double-hung sash. The most common Bungalow form was one story tall with one or more front-facing gables that integrated the porch and house. A frequent Bungalow variant was one-and-a-half stories with a side-gable roof that engaged a full-width front porch and large front dormers.
The house at 203 Montreat Road, built ca. 1920, is an especially good example of the Craftsman ideals and Bungalow form found within the South Montreat Road Historic District. The one-and-a-half story house is dominated by a broken-pitch side-gable roof that engages a full-width front porch and is punctuated by an interior brick chimney and central front-gable dormer with triangular eave brackets. The house is sheathed with coursed wood shingles, including the wide porch posts and solid porch balustrade. Other elements include exposed rafter tails, triangular brackets in the gable ends, six-over-one windows, and an arched porch opening. Another well-detailed Bungalow is located at 401 Montreat Road and features German and shingle siding, front-gable porch on paired square posts, exposed rafter tails, triangular eave brackets in the gable ends, and brick pier foundation with river rock infill. The ca. 1920 Craftsman-influenced Will Green House at 311 Montreat Road displays an eclectic mix of elements including weatherboard and coursed shingle siding, diamond-pane windows, hip-roof dormers, and arched entries at the front and side. Although it appears to have been altered over the years, the house still fits well within the district.
Other examples of Bungalows found in the South Montreat Road Historic District present more restrained interpretations of the Craftsman style. Two Bungalows at 404 and 501 Montreat Road, both ca. 1925, are simple front-gable forms with attached front-gable porches. The ca. 1920 house at 505 Montreat Road is a front-gable Bungalow with a front-gable bay, wraparound side-gable porch on tapered wood posts, four-over-one double-hung sash, and wood shingles in the gable ends and on the porch balustrade. The house at 200 Montreat Road dates from the late 1920s and incorporates elements of the Colonial Revival and Craftsman styles. The one-story brick house displays a cross-gable roof with clipped ends, wood shingles in the gable ends, and a bracketed, arched entry hood. The windows are typically six-over-six, but the entry door features a Craftsman-style multi-light glazing pattern.
Residential architecture in Black Mountain followed national trends in the 1940s and post-World War II period with an increased demand for housing as veterans returned from service and sought to purchase homes through the GI Bill. In this new era of home-ownership families often found comfort in traditional domestic imagery or desired new planning ideas and modern stylistic elements. The Minimal Traditional style evolved in the late 1930s and became very popular in the post-war period. As the name suggests, the style combined familiar residential forms (frequently derived from Colonial Revival models) with a modern preference for only minimal ornamentation. Minimal Traditional style houses are typically one story with an asymmetrical facade, front-facing gable, small covered or inset porch, and frequently a large multi-pane window or bay window. Side gable or hip roofs with shallow or no eaves is also a common characteristic. As an eclectic style, a variety of siding materials, simple window patterns, porch posts, and an occasional dentil cornice comprise the limited palate. Earlier examples of the style typically display a higher quality of craftsmanship and detail than ones constructed following World War II.
The first examples of the style along Montreat Road date to the early 1940s, with a cluster of Minimal Traditional houses built on the east side of the street between First and Third streets. Two good examples of the style are located at 206 and 300 Montreat Road. The frame and brick Robert and Kerlee Williams House at 300 Montreat Road was built in 1942 and features one-story facade with a projecting front-gable wing, bold facade chimney, and a front entrance opening from the wing onto a concrete patio. A single-bay garage is located in the basement at the rear of the house. The brick-veneer John and Wanda Love House at 206 Montreat Road was built around 1950 and features a one-story facade with a projecting front-gable wing, attached shed-roof porch, large picture window, exterior end chimney, and a single-bay garage in the basement. The one-story, three-bay, side-gable J. M. and Mary Louise Penny House, 601 Montreat Road, was constructed in 1948 with little exterior embellishment. Resting on a concrete block foundation, the frame house is sheathed with German siding and features a slightly recessed entrance bay, gabled hood with an arched opening supported on curved brackets, and six-over-six windows.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, the simplified traditional forms of the Minimal Traditional style were succeeded by the Ranch house, whose low-pitched roof and open floor plan appealed to a modern lifestyle. The Ranch style house originated in California in the 1930s, but as it was disseminated around the country it was adapted to provide functional one-level living with privacy for all family members at a relatively low cost. The typical Ranch style house is a one-story, hip or gable roof dwelling with a low horizontal orientation, presenting a much larger facade to the street than earlier house types. The floor plan is generally open with the living, dining, and family rooms flowing together and close by the kitchen. Private areas of the house were accessed from a small hallway. With minimal applied ornament, Ranch houses derive their visual distinction from asymmetrical facades, attached garages, sliding glass doors, and picture windows.
The Ranch style, with only five examples, was not as popular in the district as elsewhere in Black Mountain, but a few good examples are found within the district. The ca. 1945 one-story, side-gable house at 305 Montreat Road is sheathed with German siding and exhibits a brick foundation, interior brick chimney, cornice returns, and a broad front-gable entrance hood supported on oversized brackets. The one-story brick house at 407 Montreat Road, built around 1960, is a good example of the Ranch style with its hip roof, deep eaves, asymmetrical facade, and picture window. The last bay of the hip-roof rear wing has been enclosed, but may have originally been an engaged carport.
The most substantial structure within the South Montreat Road Historic District is the First Baptist Church at 130 Montreat Road. Erected in 1949 on the site of the congregation's earlier building, the church is a two-story, front-gable Classical Revival style brick edifice with a monumental pedimented portico supported on Doric columns and pilasters. A copper-clad steeple rises from a square tower base in facade and the double-leaf entrance is framed by a pedimented surround with a sunburst panel above the door. The T-shaped original building has been enlarged with an L-shaped education wing to the south that was added in the late 1950s. The education wing compliments the brick construction of the sanctuary, but displays little exterior embellishment. Classically derived motifs attached to a simple linear-plan building were common among Protestant congregations in the early to mid-twentieth century. Borrowing elements from American colonial church architecture, the handsome, functionally-modern building connects to the traditional styles of the past.
Beginning in the 1940s and continuing through the post-war period, the South Montreat Road Historic District shows evidence of the increased need for housing as soldiers began returning home and young families began to grow. In 1939-1940, Fannie Fitzgerald oversaw the construction of a two-story, four-unit apartment building and a one-story house for use as rental property along Montreat Road. The Colonial Revival-influenced Fitzgerald Apartments building, located 304 Montreat Road, is a side-gable frame building on a river rock foundation with two single-leaf entrances at opposite ends of the facade. One-story, gabled entrance bays project from either end of the building and contain entrances to the other two apartments. Now covered with asbestos shingle siding, the building features a symmetrical facade, fluted pilasters framing the six-panel doors, and six-over-six double-hung sash. The one-story, Minimal Traditional style frame house is located northeast of the apartments at 100 Third Street. The simple structure displays wood shingle siding, one-bay side wing, and a gabled entry hood on triangular brackets. Several years later, around 1950, a one-story, side-gable duplex, which faces north to Third Street like the adjacent house, was built between the two earlier buildings. Conveying a sense of its practical purpose as efficient and affordable housing, the duplex is utilitarian in appearance with asbestos shingle siding, concrete block foundation, uncovered concrete stoops, and six-over-six windows. Several houses in the district include detached cottages or garage apartments that offered a small number of additional residential units and some additional income for their owners. The houses at 205, 311, and 401 Montreat Road all feature detached cottages, and the L. L. Hines House at 403 Montreat Road includes a small apartment above its detached two-bay garage.
The South Montreat Road Historic District derives much of its character from the mix of architectural styles and strong linear layout. Montreat Road was one of Black Mountain's early residential streets and its older houses and mature vegetation demonstrate the stability that comes with its established and continued residential function. It is bordered to the east and west by other residential neighborhoods of a somewhat different character, scale, and integrity. The surrounding neighborhoods may display more cohesive platting and curvilinear or intersecting street patterns, but often contain a greater amount of late-twentieth century or modern infill construction. The Dougherty Heights neighborhood to the southwest maintains a similar architectural character and density to the South Montreat Road Historic District, with a mix of early and mid-twentieth century houses, inns, apartments, and churches. During the 2006-2007 Black Mountain survey of historic architectural resources, the Dougherty Heights neighborhood was evaluated and listed to the National Register [see Dougherty Heights Historic District]. Despite their similarities and some compatibility, the two areas are only tangentially linked by property lines and cannot be construed as one cohesive district.
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† Clay Griffith, Acme Preservation Services, LLC, South Montreat Road Historic District, Buncombe County, North Carolina, nomination document, 2010, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.