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“Excellent piece of history”

Thomas Wolfe Memorial
Ranked #13 of 194 things to do in Asheville
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Thomas Wolfe's childhood home, immortalized in his 1929 novel, "Look Homeward Angel," is preserved intact as a lasting monument to one of the 20th century's most prominent writers. The house, originally operated as a boardinghouse by his mother, retains most of its original furnishings and is designated as a National Historic Landmark. Tours of the 29 room house are offered hourly. The adjacent visitor center and museum highlight Wolfe's life and major literary accomplishments.
Reviewed 25 February 2014

The tour and the museum took about an hour to see and was well worth the time. The video prior to the tour gave us a good sense of what Wolfe's life was like and the tour of the home was both informative and interesting. Their guide couldn't have been more helpful or knowledgeable.

1  Thank JBB430
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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273 - 277 of 411 reviews

Reviewed 9 February 2014

Seeing the small museum, video and then the boarding house was a great context to understanding Thomas Wolfe. This exhibit interested both my teens. We had a great tour guide. Within walking distance to all the great Asheville restaurants. Be sure to look at the tour schedule and plan a visit.

1  Thank creativecrew
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 February 2014

The Visitor center has a short film and a small exhibit of Thomas Wolfe.
The highlight is the 45minutes guided tour of the Old Kentucky Home which the author grew up. The docent tied in the history, events of Asheville while giving us the tour of the house. This basically gives you an orientation of old Ashevile as well. This tour gives you a lot of information but in a manner that is light, easy to absorb.
I did not know about the author prior to the tour and still find this interesting.
After the tour, buy a book and walk 5 minutes to Park Square or Biltmore Ave. for coffee and a good read.
Admission is $5.00 which is a great bargain, and free parking on site.

2  Thank CDEMOM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 January 2014

Most people visit Asheville to tour the Biltmore Estate, but if you have the time and would like to see a fascinating early 20th century contrast to the opulence of the Biltmore, don’t miss the Thomas Wolfe Memorial and tour of his mother’s boardinghouse, where the author spent his formative years. I recently visited it for the third time, in conjunction with taking friends from the West Coast to the Biltmore, and each time I learned something new. Yes, it certainly makes the visit more interesting if you have read Wolfe’s novels, even in high school or college. The short movie presentation is well done and informative, and the artifacts in the museum are fascinating and revealing of the artist’s life in particular and the time period in general. And since his work was largely roman a clef set in a fictionalized version of Asheville, the excellent tour of the boardinghouse, led by a well-versed and engaging historian, helps pull back the curtain to display the reality behind the stories. But the Old Kentucky Home boardinghouse is reflective of how the middle class might have visited Asheville at the time, versus the extravagance of the Biltmore, and fascinating in its own right. The Thomas Wolfe Memorial is a definite “to do” when visiting Asheville.

1  Thank ElVarguito
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 January 2014

Anyone that is an English major will make this house their first stop in Asheville. Anyone that has a great appreciation for the arts will make sure the Thomas Wolfe Memorial is on their itinerary. This is the original boarding house that Thomas Wolfe’s mother ran. Almost all of the original furniture and furnishings are in this house that is dwarfed by the neighboring buildings. A small portion of the house had to be repaired due to an arsonist torching the place in July 1998. The rest of the house remains the way it was when Julia Wolfe died in 1945.
My husband, who appreciates the arts, really wanted to see the Old Kentucky Home that is thinly veiled in "Look Homeward, Angel”. Thomas Wolfe’s name is mentioned along other famous American authors such as William Faulkner. The man was a genius. He went to UNC Chapel Hill at the age of 15. After graduating from the nation’s oldest state university, Wolfe went to Harvard to study playwriting.
Since we visited the boarding house on the last day of the year, free parking was available right next to the building. The admission fee is now $5 – still a bargain. We were told that a small documentary film should be watched before touring the home. This worked out perfectly as we had 40 minutes before our tour began. My husband was very appreciative of the advice as he had a better understanding of what he saw on the guided tour.
There is an exhibit hall of Wolfe’s memorabilia. It should be noted that a good portion of Wolfe’s correspondence, manuscripts, and legal documents are housed in the Wilson Library, at UNC Chapel Hill – about 225 miles east of Asheville. Having a tour guide for the 45-minute visit of the Old Kentucky Home gave us a really good feel of what it must have been like to grow up in Asheville at the turn of the twentieth century. We totally understand why our guide glossed over Wolfe’s adult drinking problems, but it would have been nice if she had mentioned it as that contributed to his problems during his short life (He died at the age of 37).
We were able to see many of the rooms. It was great to see so many of the original furnishings, giving one the feeling that they are reliving Thomas Wolfe’s childhood. The original electrical wiring in the house is still there. Since many rich Americans came to Asheville at the beginning of the twentieth century, the city had electricity before most places in the South. About the only thing that is missing in the boarding house is the soot from the coal that was used to heat the home. A modern HVAC system keeps the house at the right temperature all year long.
My husband left the memorial with a better understanding of this gifted writer and his life in Asheville. Now, he wants to read Thomas Wolfe’s books to have a greater appreciation of this great city.
Make the Thomas Wolfe Memorial one of your first stops while in Asheville. It is a lot cheaper than the “castle” on the south side of the city. And like my husband, you may want to pick up a copy of “Look Homeward Angel” in the near future.

4  Thank MagyarNC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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