When it comes to cabin rentals, North Carolina has few destinations with more choices than the Asheville area—but our architecture goes far beyond vacation cabins. The fantastic diversity of architecture creates downtown Asheville's magical setting. First, 18th Century vacationers brought stately Greek Revival and Federal designs and elegant Queen Anne and Victorian styles. Things really took off when George Washington Vanderbilt commissioned the Biltmore Estate in 1889, which cemented Asheville as the place to get away. For the next three decades, a flashy mix of architectural styles found their way into the area, including excellent Arts and Crafts and Neo-Tudor examples. The variety can be evidenced best by the contrast between two side-by-side buildings: the funky Art Deco City Hall and the conservative Neo-Classical County Courthouse.
Two of the most popular buildings downtown are the Grove Arcade and the Basilica of St. Lawrence. The Grove Arcade, built in the 1920s, was an early incarnation of today's shopping malls, except this center of commerce has Tudor Gothic Revival-style details and winding, cantilevered stairwells. The nearby Basilica of St. Lawrence features two Spanish Baroque towers and the largest unsupported tile dome in North America.
Because the city at that time depended so heavily on the fortunes of those living far away, the Great Depression hit Asheville very hard. Fewer new buildings were constructed thereafter, and some folks say the city was so in debt for a while that it couldn't afford to swing a wrecking ball.
Downtown has been reborn, however, with an explosion of shops, bars, small businesses, restaurants and entertainment options to rival any big city. Several modern mixed-used buildings and some "green," or environmentally friendly, buildings also complement the historic district.