36 Montford Avenue is now the location of Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. But it wasn’t always so.
On that site local builder and architect O.D. Revell erected what would commonly be referred to as the Coleman House at “the head of Montford” named for the owners John Kennedy Coleman and his wife Mary Jane. Mary Jane was born in Ireland and met John Kennedy Coleman after she had arrived in the U.S. around about 1878. They married and began their family in Mr. Coleman’s hometown of Chester, South Carolina before moving to Asheville in 1890. Mrs. Coleman was listed in the 1890 city directory, but Mr. Coleman’s business interests kept him in Chester until 1900-1901 when he is first listed in the directory.
Mr. Coleman’s Asheville careers included being a furniture dealer according to the city directory of 1900-1901. He was active in real estate in 1904-1905 and the lumber business in 1907. The Coleman family grew to include four daughters and three sons. The family was active in First Presbyterian Church. Daughter Mary was well known for her musical talents. Twin daughters Annie and Margaret were avid gardeners according to a June 1947 article in The Asheville Citizen-Times.
By the mid-1970’s the house was in need of repair and by 1977 it was vacant. At that point the newly formed (1976) Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County launched a campaign to save the Coleman House. Everyone in Asheville including myself visited a huge auction sale preview. Alas, the campaign to save the structure was not successful and by 1979 the house was demolished.
On February 24, 1979 the following headline appeared in an article in The Asheville Citizen-Times. Frank Pruett who owned The Peddler Steakhouse on Tunnel road purchased the Coleman property to build a new Peddler Steakhouse on the site.
So, why am I writing about the Coleman House at this time of year? In one of my eBay perusals I found this rather drab Christmas card. And when I looked at the back of the card, I knew this was a perfect starting point for a holiday post.
Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to all from the North Carolina Room!
Posted by Terry Taylor, board member Friends of the North Carolina Room