The Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA) presents its annual Christmas Twilight Tour at the Smith-McDowell House Museum on Friday, December 8. Tours will be held at half-hour intervals from 6–8 p.m.
“The Twilight Tour originated in 2015 as a fundraising event,” says interim house manager Elaine Blake, “that takes advantage of our Christmas decorations to present an evening tour with the added pageantry of costumed interpreters, live music, social gathering time and a historical theme.”
This year’s theme is Christmas at the Buck House. The home’s original owner, James Smith, also owned Asheville’s Buck Hotel, and the Smith home, built in 1840, was sometimes referred to as the Buck House. “The Christmas at Buck House theme,” Blake says, “will focus on the lives of the children who lived here from circa 1840 to 1898, including the Smith, McDowell and Garrett families, in addition to the unnamed enslaved families who lived on the estate in the early years.”
Guides in 19th century attire will lead tour participants through six decorated rooms on three floors of the home, including an 1840s slave workroom and an 1890s Gilded Age dining room. The Smith-McDowell House is the oldest residence still in existence in Asheville and the oldest brick structure in Buncombe County.
A prominent businessman during the early history of the region, Smith owned, at one time, more than 30,000 acres in Buncombe County. His ventures included a tannery, a general store, a lumberyard and a toll bridge over the French Broad River connecting the Buncombe Turnpike with areas west of the river.
Today the Smith-McDowell House serves as the headquarters for the WNCHA and a center for youth history education, including the historic house museum and exhibit space. Regular hours for home tours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Smith-McDowell House is located at 283 Victoria Road, Asheville, on the campus of Asheville- Buncombe Technical Community College. Ticket sales for the Christmas Twilight Tour are limited to ensure small groups for the guided tours, which last about an hour. The cost is $15 for Western NC Historical Association members and $20 for non-members. Reservations and prepayment are required at wnchistory.org or by calling 828.253.9231.