Photo: Pisgah Forest near Joe Hollis' Mountain Gardens in Celo NC.

Discover Asheville's Unique Charms

"...Asheville is rich with layer upon layer of the most exquisite quality of life just waiting to be discovered ..."


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Discover and Celebrate the Bliss of Asheville and Western North Carolina Area as a Health Retreat

How Asheville Came to Be Known
as the Ideal Place for Healing

"... As far back as 1795, records show that the Asheville area was regarded as a place to come heal oneself of ills. American Indians used the area as a neutral ground for their sick, particularly the area around Hot Springs (30 miles north of Buncombe County).... in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, tuberculosis was one of the foremost diseases leading to fatalities.... From the late 1880s to the 1930s Asheville rose in prominence as a curative place for tuberculosis....Dr. Joseph Gleitsmann... “selected Asheville as having an optimum combination of barometric pressure, temperature, humidity and sunlight” which he believed to be conducive to healing tuberculosis. Gleitsmann is credited with helping to establish Asheville as a center for tuberculosis treatment... because of the many articles he wrote and talks he gave at medical gatherings promoting the benefits of the Asheville climate. His work was respected in medical circles and patients from all over the country were referred to him and the Asheville area as especially curative.... With the introduction of the railroad in 1880 and further connection to Knoxville in 1883, Asheville was suddenly a day's travel away from many cities on the East Coast and more accessible from the hot humid cities of the South. Tourists and health seekers alike came in hordes to Asheville, prompting the development of hotels, boarding houses and eventually more sanitaria." CLICK HERE for the rest of the story

Brexton Boarding House, (now a private apartment and not open to the public) one of many boarding houses in the Montford Historic District, was once a tuberculosis sanitarium operated by the Sisters of Mercy for St. Joseph's. The architecture of the building, with its 3 story sleeping porches, was designed for optimum health -- assuring that its occupants would get plenty of sunlight and mountain fresh air.

Click on each of the dozens of categories to the left to uncover what makes the Asheville area so vital, so intriguing and so, well, UTTERLY BLISSFUL!

Explore the Bliss of Asheville ...
Eric Weiner's new book
The Geography of Bliss

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World: ".... Asheville, North Carolina, with its idyllic mountain setting and proliferation of good restaurants and New Age healing spas, is enjoying a vogue as a happy place to live. As one newly arrived resident puts it, "A lot of people spin the globe and their finger stops on Asheville."

"....the author is correct, nice weather, affordable housing, lovely scenery, and a slower pace of life, yet an active cultural scene..."

From Rolf Potts' Vagabonding blog:

I've never been one of those uptight literary types who thinks that you have to have actually read a book in order to recommend it to others. So I feel no trepidation in suggesting Eric Weiner's new travelogue-slash-memoir The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World The premise of the book is simple but intriguing-- here is Amazon's description:

Part foreign affairs discourse, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide, The Geography of Bliss takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in the crabby author's case, moments of "un-unhappiness." The book uses a beguiling mixture of travel, psychology, science and humor to investigate not what happiness is, but where it is. Are people in Switzerland happier because it is the most democratic country in the world? Do citizens of Singapore benefit psychologically by having their options limited by the government? Is the King of Bhutan a visionary for his initiative to calculate Gross National Happiness? Why is Asheville, North Carolina so damn happy? With engaging wit and surprising insights, Eric Weiner answers those questions and many others, offering travelers of all moods some interesting new ideas for sunnier destinations and dispositions.

In the imaginary Netflix queue of books-that-I'm-planning-to-read, this one has just jumped to the top. By the way, why has no one started a Netflix for books? This question, and many more, I'll leave for another day.


"... Asheville is still a health center where people come for specialized treatment. Mission-St. Joseph's Hospital and the many specialists located nearby have made Asheville the prime medical center for Western North Carolina. Also, the Asheville area is considered to be the “New Age Mecca of the East” by many people. The area boasts many massage therapists, acupuncturists and other alternative health care practitioners..."

Dr. S. Westray Battle was the most influential physician to come to Asheville, as he was responsible, indirectly, for both the building of the Biltmore Estate and the Grove Park Inn

"... One of Asheville's greatest promoters was Dr. S. Westray Battle who came to Asheville in 1885 and turned out to be, perhaps, the most influential doctor to come to the area. Through his connections and reputation, many wealthy individuals and families came and ended up staying in Asheville. Among them was George Vanderbilt, who accompanied his ailing mother. While in Asheville, Vanderbilt fell in love with the area and returned to build his now famed Biltmore Estate. Edwin W. Grove also came to Asheville as one of Battle's patients and stayed on to build Grove Park Inn, the Grove Arcade and the Grove Park neighborhood...."

Zelda Fitzgerald's Stay in the Highland Hospital

"...In 1930 Zelda suffered a breakdown and was diagnosed (perhaps incorrectly) with schizophrenia. From then until 1940 her life was spent mainly in mental institutions in Europe and America, except for short periods living with her family. At the same time Scott’s popularity waned and his income fell. Looking for a less expensive place to relax and recover, he began visiting the area around Asheville, North Carolina. In 1936 he moved Zelda from an institution in Maryland to Highland Hospital in Asheville.

Zelda remained for four years at Highland under the care of Dr. Robert S. Carroll, who has been described as “something of an original in American psychiatry.” Carroll believed in treating mental illness in part with a regime of diet and exercise although he also used other standard therapies of the day. Zelda, who saw her husband, daughter, and other family infrequently, was often lonely at Highland, but she made progress there. She participated in activities such as hiking and playing tennis, and she continued to write and paint, pursuits she had begun in the 1920s. Zelda’s painting reproduced on this page was purchased from a collector for the North Carolina Collection Gallery in 1991. It is identified on the back as depicting a Highland Hospital scene...." . Painting, above, is "Hospital Slope." Watercolor by Zelda Fitzgerald, ca. 1946. from the North Carolina Collection Gallery. [Comment: painting doesn't look like those painted by schizophrenics... perhaps evidence of her healing.]

About Highland Hospital

According to the National Register of Historic Places "... Several small, private clinics and hospitals for tuberculosis and other ailments were also established. Best known of these was Highland Hospital, originally known as "Dr. Carroll's Sanatorium," founded by Dr. Robert S. Carroll, a distinguished psychiatrist. His program of treatment for mental and nervous disorders and addictions was based on exercise, diet and occupational therapy, and attracted patients from all over the country. The hospital was relocated from downtown Asheville to the northern end of Montford Avenue in 1909, and was officially named Highland Hospital in 1912. The campus included landscaped grounds for patients to recover through means of 'diversion' and 'productive occupation.'...o.n the night of March 10, 1948, a deadly fire broke out in the main building and took the lives of nine women. Among the victims was author Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald...."

Highland Hospital had been gifted to Duke University in 1939, and according to the universities archives:

"...Highland Hospital, founded in 1904, was a residential psychiatric hospital located in Asheville, N.C. The hospital was planned to consist of several buildings, each equipped to serve the needs of parts of the patient population. The hospital advertised itself as 'an institution employing all rational methods in the treatment of nervous habit, and mental cases: especially emphasizing the natural curative agents -- rest, climate, water, diet, work, and play'... Early directorship of Highland Hospital included both Robert S. Carroll (medical director).... An on-site greenhouse was touted for its usefulness in therapy: 'groups find instructive and satistfying occupation in planting and caring for growing beauty, and in the pleasure elicited among the hospital family by the colorful, fragrant products of their labor'....Highland Hospital functioned as an exclusive treatment center for privileged Americans, including some celebrities. In 1980, Highland Hospital was sold by Duke University to Psychiatric Institutes of America...."

Discover the Bliss of Asheville ...
through These Books and Videos.

Finding Your Way in Asheville is ".... a different kind of guide book. Instead of offering glossy photos and paid insertions from big bucks advertisers, it gives you the kind of information you'd get from a best friend who moved to Western North Carolina twenty years ago. "I've discovered the greatest place for a romantic dinner," she'd say. "Just around the corner from Pritchard Park. Here, let me draw you a map." It's a selective guide in that the authors share the places they've come to love while living, working, dining out, partying, biking, hiking, canoeing and raising children in the "Paris of the South."
America's Castles: The Biltmore Estate "...the grandest of all American homes... Biltmore dwarfs all the mansions built by his illustrious forefathers... . a remarkable top-to-bottom tour of the largest home ever built in America. With its 255 rooms, the Biltmore is a monument to the extravagance and eccentricity of its owner. See footage of its construction, and go behind the scenes with the men and women who work there to learn the secrets of this incredible mansion. Get a privileged tour of rooms that are off-limits to the public, and marvel at the magnificent treasures that Vanderbilt collected....."
Biltmore Estate: The Most Distinguished Private Place "... Few people realize what effort it took to design and construct the largest private residence in the United States, but this book details it all from the breaking of the ground to the designing of the curtain rods. This book is one of the best written and most appealing architectural history books ever. The photographs and drawings in it are also to be commended. Many of the pictures offer breathtaking views of the mansion and its grounds as well as showing many vintage photographs taken at various times throughout its construction and times of residence...."


American Express

There are many blissful activities in Asheville! To locate them, go to and search on "Asheville activities".

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