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Guided walks focus on city's history and mystery

The site of the old Wheeler Hotel is one of the stops on a guided history walk. The site of the old Wheeler Hotel is one of the stops on a guided history walk.

Three popular guided history walks will be offered on Saturdays in July in Hendersonville along with a new guided walk focusing on Murals, Mosaic and Ghost Signs.

The 90-plus minute walks starting at 10 a.m. explore various historic areas of town: along Main Street (Saturday, July 8), in Oakdale Cemetery (Saturday, July 15), in the Historic Seventh Avenue District (Saturday, July 22), and Murals, Mosaic, and Ghost Signs throughout the downtown area (Saturday, July 29).

Main Street

On Saturday, July 8, the Historic Main Street walk will start at the front steps of City Hall, corner of Fifth Avenue E. and King St. Tour guide Mary Jo Padgett will describe who donated the land where the new town would be built, what is the age of the oldest block of buildings, what was on the third floor (and in the basement) of City Hall, who the town was named for, where the old Opera House was located, and more.

Oakdale Cemetery

On Saturday, July 15, the walk through Historic Oakdale Cemetery will begin in the cemetery on U.S. 64 W. Oakdale is Hendersonville’s municipal cemetery, and most of the town’s early residents and colorful citizens are buried here. The famous Italian marble monument which inspired the title of Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel is in Oakdale, along with both marked and unmarked graves of historic figures. The heritage of the African-American community is told in the Black section of the cemetery, while the designated Jewish cemetery reveals how the town grew to embrace ethnic and religious groups through the years. How and why the cemetery was established in 1883, names of those who helped build the town and where they were laid to rest, where the Sunshine Lady is buried, and more will be answered.

Historic Seventh Avenue District

On Saturday, July 22, the walk around the Seventh Avenue and Historic Train Depot district will start at the front steps of City Hall, corner of Fifth Avenue East and King St. From there participants stroll toward the depot, where the first steam locomotive arrived in Hendersonville on July 4, 1879, crammed with tourists and visitors from the low country of South Carolina. The neighborhood around the depot grew to become the commercial district during the exciting era of big-band music, dancing, numerous inns and hotels, much real estate trading, and huge agricultural growth. Hendersonville was in its heyday from that moment until the financial crash of 1929.

Murals, Mosaic and Ghost Signs

On Saturday July 29, the walk begins in front of the Historic Courthouse on Main Street. The tour will explore the stories behind downtown murals, including some very new ones, a mosaic made with 250,000 small pieces of glass, and numerous ghost signs hidden in plain sight on old buildings.
“We’ll step back in time through the interesting history and architecture of Hendersonville,” Padgett said. “Hendersonville has its own unique culture and spirit, which actually began with the lifestyle of the Native Americans, grew into a farming area due to fertile soil, and blossomed as a popular destination during the heyday of railroads. Our lives here today are influenced by all of that.”
A journalist and public relations consultant, Padgett served on Hendersonville City Council for eight years, was co-founder and former executive director of ECO and served as associate editor at "Mother Earth News" magazine.

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Cost for each tour is $10 per person 10 years and older. There's no charge for children under 10 with a paid adult. Space is limited and reservations are suggested. To make a reservation contact Padgett at 828-545-3179 or email Private tours for groups can be arranged. To see the entire schedule for this year visit and click on Guided Walk.