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Waynesville Town

Waynesville Town Hall is located at 16 South Main Street, Waynesville, NC 28786; phone: 828-452-2491.

Beginnings [1]

Haywood County was formed in 1808, and was named for John Haywood, treasurer of North Carolina from 1787 to 1827. The town of Waynesville was established as the county seat of Haywood County in 1809. Founded by Colonel Robert Love, the town was first called Mt. Prospect, then changed to Waynesville in 1810. The original town plan consisted of thirty half-acre lots along Main Street, with one cross street (now East and Church Streets). The business district of Waynesville was laid out along the northeast-southwest ridgeline which formed the center of town. Like many western North Carolina towns, it remained as a small village through much of the nineteenth century. Once the railroad arrived in 1883 the town began to thrive, as access to the west was opened up to tourists and new residents. The tourism economy thrived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Waynesville, as evidenced by the number of hotels which were formally located all along Main Street.

By 1810, the town had its initial lots, with a courthouse, a jail, and three taverns. The construction of the Buncombe Turnpike in 1828, connecting Tennessee to South Carolina, helped Waynesville's development to some degree, and a weekly stagecoach service, begun in 1830 between Asheville and Clayton, Georgia through Waynesville also brought some commercial development into the town. Nevertheless, by the middle of the nineteenth century, near the end of the Civil War, Waynesville was still considered a hamlet, a small village on the stage line. All that was visible on Main Street were scattered houses, a brick courthouse, a hotel, and a new jail. There were only fifteen families, two general stores, a few houses, and a total population of seventy-five people. There was one hotel on Main Street, and a few lawyers and doctors offices. By 1871, the town of Waynesville had incorporated, but the population was still less than 200. J. R. Love, a descendent of the town's founder, donated land north of the original section of town for development, including lots for a new courthouse. The railroad arrived in 1883, after finally reaching Asheville in 1880, bringing with it many tourists to the area who had heard of the beauty of Waynesville and Haywood County.

  1. Sybil Argintar, Preservation Planning Consultant, Bowers Southeastern Preservation, Waynesville Main Street Historic District, Haywood County, NC, nomination document, 2005, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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