Saturday, February 4, 2023 / by Amy Brown
Here is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Buying the Blue Ridge, to be published this Spring!
Outlying Rural Towns in Buncombe County
Location: Candler, Leicester, Alexander, Marshall, Fairview, Weaverville, Black Mountain
Long before Asheville was born, these mountains were a farming community. Tucked into various coves straddling both sides of the French Broad River, you can still find plenty of farmland all within a short drive to the city.
Our main agricultural product was tobacco. You can still see numerous old tobacco barns scattered throughout the region, now mostly used for storage. Sir Walter Raleigh brought the first tobacco seeds over from Europe and tobacco farming was introduced to this area around 1880. Tobacco was worked by hand and mule for decades and was the largest source of income for North Carolina until 2001.
The tobacco farms are now mostly retired but that land has been converted to organic vegetable farming and wine production. A fun day trip to get to know our agricultural history and rural areas a bit better is to take the Farm Heritage Trail, a guided drive through northwestern Buncombe county. The trail is a self-guided tour of 11 different farms where you have the opportunity to stop at tailgate markets and sample the fresh, local produce. Some sights not to be missed would be the Long Branch Environmental Education Center where you can pick berries, walk through the bird habitat, or fish for trout. Addison Farms Vineyards in Leicester offers wine making tours and tastings. Franny’s Farmacy is a hemp farm offering tours, camping, and medicinal products. And you will want to stop at Mount Gilead Farm in the Spring when the kids are born so that you can bottle feed the baby goats.
In tribute to our pioneer farming culture, many of the old homesteads have been preserved and are open for tourism. One of the best examples of an Appalachian farm is located at the Vance Birthplace in the Reems Creek Valley near Weaverville. This was the home of Zebulon Baird Vance, a lawyer, soldier, and political leader, during the Civil War. The homestead includes the main cabins along with a loom house, spring house, smokehouse, and corn crib; all free to the public.
Weaverville is one of the last true examples of small town USA. It has a central Main Street with churches, restaurants, and local shops. There is a town square with a nature park that holds outdoor music events during the warmer months. With its close proximity to Asheville, this is a highly desirable community for those looking for a bit slower pace, a country feel, but easy access to a metropolitan area.
Fairview, located southeast of Asheville, is most readily identified by the Cane Creek Valley. The mountains open into a narrow stretch of land with Cane Creek running through the center from east to west with Fairview on the eastern side and Fletcher to the west. The valley today is filled mostly with ranches and large luxury estates. One of the most recognizable is the Taylor Ranch with its large herd of longhorn cattle. This is a private residence and event center, very popular for weddings.
Black Mountain and the neighboring hamlet of Montreat is a hiker’s paradise. The Montreat Wilderness hiking trail system crosses the Greybeard mountain range with over 30 miles of some of the best hiking in the region. Then stop back into one of the hiker’s pubs like The Trailhead or Black Bear Tavern and have a pint. There are also plenty of outfitters in town like Take A Hike Outfitters to grab gear, maps, and supplies for a mountain adventure on the trails.
Black Mountain is also a very charming place to live with the town being very walkable and having access to daily recreational amenities such as a golf course, public pool, and Lake Tomahawk park. It is also only a 20 minute drive to the east making it an easy commute to Asheville or into the towns of Marion or Morganton.
Candler, Leicester, Alexander, Marshall
Average sales price: $400,000
Average square footage: 1575 sf
Average parcel size: 1-2 acres
Average year built: 1985
Average sales price: $550,000
Average square footage: 1760 sf
Average parcel size: .4 acres
Average year built: 2013
Average sales price: $675,000
Average square footage: 1925 sf
Average parcel size: 3 acres
Average year built: 2005
Average sales price: $625,000
Average square footage: 1800 sf
Average parcel size: .4 acres
Average year built: 1995
What to anticipate:
In the Candler, Leicester, Alexander, and Marshall areas, since they are zoned as open use, expect to see a mix of site built and manufactured homes. There are fewer subdivisions out here, meaning less HOAs, but that also means that there will be little control over what your neighbors can and can’t store on their property. You will see a lot more RVs and boats stored out here along with more unsightly things like junk cars. Homeowners are also permitted to have open burns so in the Fall especially you will have a lot of folks burning leaves and yard debris.
Fairview has a lot more open land, mostly in the Cane Creek Valley area, so there is more opportunity for one level living and a flat yard. Price tags are high out here as you have homes sitting in the valley center surrounded by big open views. Make sure that if you are purchasing a home near Cane Creek that you are not in a flood zone and that flood insurance is not required.
Weaverville is very quaint and living there is like stepping back in time. The people are friendly and it is a town where you definitely get to know your neighbors. It has been growing in popularity due to its low crime and convenience to the city so home values are rising rapidly.
Black Mountain is like living in a mountain vacation village. Most homes are on heavily wooded lots. The town itself has very few modern conveniences but with Asheville such a short distance away most residents will happily trade the outdoor life for a bit of extra driving time. It is also the gateway to Lake Lure and Lake James so this is a great place to live if you work in Asheville but have a boat.