Montford’s History Goes Public

Join the celebration Tuesday, October 3, 9:30 am on Montford Avenue at Cullowhee Street. Parking is available at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 227 Cumberland Avenue, and refreshments will be served there afterwards.

The historic Montford neighborhood (exit 4C off I-240) is sharing its history with visitors and residents alike through five interpretive panels mounted on bus shelters along Montford Avenue. The first one gives a brief history of the neighborhood and is located in front of the Asheville Chamber Visitor Center. The next four are mounted on two bus shelters at the corners of Montford Avenue and Cullowhee Street. They are a collaboration between the City of Asheville and the Montford Neighborhood Association (MNA), a nonprofit whose mission is to improve the Montford neighborhood.

What better way to honor lost homes, past residents, bygone scenes and African American heritage than displaying four history panels on bus shelters where passersby can glimpse neighborhood history? These displays celebrate the diversity of the neighborhood, its prosperous times and its struggles with poverty, demolition and fires.

Creating a “Montford history museum without walls” was a community building project: MNA Board member Sue Russell spearheaded the idea; Michael McDonough designed the structures; the Historic Resources Commission of Asheville and Buncombe approved the design; Tina Council fabricated the metal; Ross Terry created the panels’ graphics; and Sharon Fahrer gathered the information and wrote the content. The City Department of Transportation laid the groundwork and approved the installation of the panels on the bus shelters. Photographs were provided by Pack Library’s North Carolina Room and the D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections at UNC Asheville. Additional input and information came from community members Daphne Young, Lenora Robinson and Roy Harris, among others.

“The larger hope is that other neighborhoods will copy this idea and showcase their own history, including an archive in Pack Library’s North Carolina Collection,” says Fahrer. “Everyone can be involved in gathering pictures and stories.”