Until the 1785 Treaty of Hopewell, present-day Henderson County was part of Cherokee Indian territory. After the treaty, in which the Cherokee were forced to move further west, immigrant settlement increased, and by the end of the 18th century, all of what is now Henderson County was inhabited by newcomers.
The region developed more slowly that those further to the east, due to the continued presence of the nearby Cherokee Indians, the difficulties encountered in transversing the rugged, mountainous terrain, and the lack of adequate transportation to eastern markets.
On the Buncombe County Turnpike
Most settlers were subsistance farmers until the opening of the Buncombe County Turnpike in 1827, which established the area as an important gateway to the Blue Ridge. With the ability to transport produce and stock on the plank road to distant markets, the population of the region grew, and in 1847 the village of Hendersonville became a chartered city.
A Growing Community
Hendersonville attracted merchants, lawyers and other professionals, as well as innkeepers whose clientele were travelers along the Buncombe Turnpike. The town was laid out with a center square on Main Street with a stuccoed brick Greek Revival courthouse built in 1844. In 1903, the county commissioners deemed the old courthouse inadequate and hired Biltmore supervising architect Richard Sharp Smith who designed the gold-domed Neo-Classical Revival courthouse that has recently been renovated and serves as home today to the county and the Henderson County Heritage Museum.
Historic Downtown Hendersonville
By the 1910s, contiguous rows of mostly two-story brick buildings characterized Main Street’s commercial core, many of which are preserved in today’s Historic Downtown Hendersonville, which was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. The main street is decorated with planter boxes brimming with seasonal flowers and trees and is home to thriving businesses such as specialty shops, antique stores and restaurants.
Growing apples has been part of Henderson County’s culture and heritage since the mid 1700s. Today there are approximately 200 apple growers in Henderson County. North Carolina is the 7th largest apple-producing state in the nation, and Henderson County grows 65% of all apples in North Carolina. During a normal year it brings in an average income of $22 million dollars or more. Hear the story of this important agricultural heritage in a Living Traditions Moment audio program below.
Museums & Parks
The Henderson County Heritage Museum preserves and interprest the story of Henderson County from the Cherokee and pioneers who carved homes out of the wilderness to today. The Museum is housed in the Historic Henderson County Courthouse on Main Street.
The Mineral & Lapidary Museum of Henderson County was established in 1997and houses exhibits from North Carolina, the Smithsonian. The collection includes English minerals, Indian artifacts, geodes, fossils, fluorescent minerals and gems.
Hands On! – A Child’s Gallery provides educational exhibits that stimulate the imagination and motivate learning in a fun, safe, “Hands On!” environment where kids can be kids.
Jackson Park is located near downtown Hendersonville, with facilities that include picnic shelters, baseball and soccer fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, and many walking trails, providing a central location for many community sports and activities. The park is home to several species of birds, wildlife, and plants, making the park a great place to observe nature.
Patton Park offers 19 acres with baseball fields, basketball courts, 4 racquetball courts (open Memorial Day-Labor Day), 2 tennis courts, a football field, two pavilions with picnic tables and grills, 2 gazebos, playground, a one-half mile lighted walking trail, an Olympics-sized swimming pool (pool open 7 days during summer season), bathrooms and a skate park. Hours for Patton Park and the Skate Park are 7:00am-11:00pm daily. Hwy. 25 N, Hendersonville, NC. 828-697-3084
Festivals & Events
Historic Downtown Hendersonville hosts a number of annual and weekly events throughout the year, including:
- Garden Jubilee – Memorial Day weekend.
- North Carolina Apple Festival – Labor Day weekend.
- Flat Rock Playhouse Downtown Theatre – mid April thru late-December.
- Music On Main Street – early-June thru late-August, every Friday.
- Street Dances – early-July thru mid-August, every Monday.
- Art On Main – first Saturday & Sunday in October.
Farmers Tailgate Markets
The Henderson County Curb Market, located on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Church Street, is a unique farmers market with all products either hand-made or locally grown. The market has been in continuous operation since 1924.
The Henderson County Tailgate Market operates from 7 am – noon Saturdays, April through October. Local, organic and conventional produce, bedding plants, flowers, herbs, baked goods, canned goods are for sale in the parking area of the Henderson County Building parking area, 100 N. King Street (between First and Second Avenues) in downtown Hendersonville. (828) 693-7265.
Hendersonville’s Community Co-op offers fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, eggs and plants for local growers, including conventional, transitional, low-spray and organic produce. Open every Monday from 3 – 6 pm beginning June 1 in the parking lot of the Hendersonville Co-op, 715 Old Spartanburg Hwy. (828) 693-0505.