Southeast Vacation: Grove Park Inn & Highland Hospital

Highland Hospital Asheville Zelda Fitzgerald plaque

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Welcome to North Carolina sign

Driving on from Smoky Mountains National Park, we headed into North Carolina. Our destination was Asheville, mainly to visit Biltmore Estate, but there were a few other stops as well.

Cici's Pizza

First, how about some CiCi’s Pizza? We love CiCi’s and wish there was one in our town. Inexpensive prices for a salad and and pizza buffet — and even dessert? WIN!

Grove Park Inn

Okay, so the first “official” stop was Grove Park Inn in Asheville. I had never heard of this place, and no we didn’t stay here, but guests are allowed to walk around the premises and the lobby, so that is what we did.

I learned that the arts-and-crafts-style inn sits on the western-facing slope of Sunset Mountain within the Blue Ridge Mountains. It has been visited by many presidents and other famous folks.

Grove Park Inn

The inn was built in 1912 by E. W. Grove, who believed that Asheville’s climate would be ideal for a resort. In fact, his doctors had sent him to the area in hopes of curing his frequent bouts of extreme hiccups.

The place has become a famous haunt for the rich and famous. Presidents who’ve visited include Taft, Wilson, Coolidge, Hoover, FDR, Eisenhower, Nixon, the first Bush, Clinton, and the current occupant. Also visiting have been Harry Houdini, Henry Ford, Billy Graham, and …


… F. Scott Fitzgerald. You can read about his reasons for staying above. And that leads me to our next stop:

Highland Hospital Asheville

… which would be some buildings that made up Highland Hospital, also called Dr. Carroll’s Sanitorium. Here, people were treated for nervous and mental disorders in the early part of the 20th century. Treatment was based on diet, exercise, and occupational therapy. In this era, it was felt that being in beautiful surroundings could help cure people with mental illnesses, or improve the thinking of those in prisons. Above, you’ll see a castle-like building, which was the home of Dr. Carroll and his wife. All the buildings still standing are on Zillicoa Street, in an area of Asheville known as Montford.

Highland Hospital Asheville

Here’s another building that was part of the campus. It’s known as Rumbough House. One of the hospital’s most famous patients was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda. In fact, she died there, in a 1948 fire at the hospital which killed nine women. The building that burned was not rebuilt, but this one was nearby:

Highland Hospital Asheville

To the side, there was a plaque dedicated to Zelda.

Highland Hospital Asheville Zelda Fitzgerald plaque

Her quote: “I don’t need anything except hope, which I can’t find by looking backwards or forwards, so I suppose the thing is to shut my eyes.”

Several family members stayed in the car during this foray down Zillicoa Street, but my daughter (who’d read Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald) and I (who’d read Guests on Earth) enjoyed it. One of my very favorite things to do is visit sites with tie-ins to books I’ve read.

Have you visited a site related to a book? Gone to Asheville? Stayed at Grove Park Inn? I’d love to hear about it!


5 thoughts on “Southeast Vacation: Grove Park Inn & Highland Hospital

  1. When we lived in SC, Asheville was only an hour or so away, and we visited several times, usually to the Biltmore. Once for an anniversary trip to the Biltmore, we ate at Grove Park Inn – they have 4 or 5 restaurants, and the one where we ate had a wonderful view and a lovely 3-piece string and piano group performing live. I liked ti so well that I wanted to come back and stay there some time, so we did for our 25th anniversary. I don’t think I’d stay at the Inn again – it’s pretty pricy and the hotels rooms are pretty much the same as any other hotel. But it’s a lovely place to visit and eat. When we were there in December, they had a huge gingerbread house contest going on which is an annual thing.

    I’ve not read any Fitzgerald yet. I’m trying to think if I have ever gone to a place related to a book – nothing is coming to mind, but we did visit Carl Sandburg’s home in NC and Joel Chandler Harris’s home in Atlanta.

  2. I haven’t been to North Carolina yet. That hospital looks beautiful. And yes, we love Cici’s Pizza too 😉

  3. I have not experienced any of the things of which you wrote today. So this part of the vacation was all new territory to me.

  4. So the Inn was built in 1912. The Titanic sank in 1912. Leona Kamman was born in 1912. It was a good year!

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