north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     Against a backdrop of stone houses and verdant trees , Riverside Cemetery in Asheville’s Montford Historic District is a veritable “who’s who” of western North Carolina’s past. Opened in 1885, the placid necropolis encompasses over eighty acres of land, while spanning over a hundred years of regional history. As a historic site open to the public, the Riverside Cemetery combines a historical, architectural, and cultural experience within a solemn, yet serene environment.

     The Asheville Cemetery Company established Riverside in 1885, to accommodate the demand for underground internment. On the verge of bankruptcy in 1952, the company transferred the burial ground to the City of Asheville, whose employees have maintained the cemetery up to the present day. There are over 13,000 graves amongst the eighty-seven acres, with 9,000 monuments and a dozen mausoleums. Lots are still available for purchase, and an average of seventy-five burials are performed each year. The city operates a service center, which conducts guided tours, assists with genealogical research, and sells plots. Showcasing a myriad of tree and plant specimens, Riverside was designated a Buncombe County Tree Preserve in 1997.

     Riverside is home to the graves of some of the most historically significant figures in North Carolina history. Authors Thomas Wolfe and William S. Porter (O. Henry)) are interred at Riverside, as are politicians Robert B. Vance, Thomas L. Clingman, and Robert Rice Reynolds. Individuals responsible for Asheville’s development are also buried there, such as the first African American to serve on the Asheville School council, Isaac Dickson. Other burials include those of James H. Merrimon, Thomas W. Patton, Zebulon B. Vance, Solomon Lipinsky, and Jeter C. Pritchard. As Riverside Cemetery is a history museum within an extravagant garden setting, it is readily apparent that while figures of the past are gone, they will not soon be forgotten.

William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina, 976—essay by Zoe Rhine
National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary:
Asheville Parks and Recreation Department, “Riverside Cemetery” (n.d.)
Asheville Parks and Recreation Department, “Riverside Cemetery Walking Tour” (n.d.)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

Gravestone of Zebulon B. Vance at Riverside Cemetery

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources