If so, I think you will truly appreciate the following glimpses found inside this story-filled home described in Thomas Wolfe’s classic novel, “Look Homeward, Angel”:
You’ll notice the apartment building to the immediate right. The city has progressed but has thankfully left a small area of land intact for this wonderful site. There is also an adjacent building which houses many artifacts as well as the 20 minute video that accompanies the guided tour.
Can’t you just see Ben and Eugene (Thomas) conversing with their mother’s boarders on this front porch?
Thomas Wolfe stayed in this room upon his final trip to Asheville, seven years after the novel was published. The time gap was necessary due to Thomas’ honest and forthcoming descriptions of certain townspeople. Many were upset and some had even threatened Thomas’ life. Later, however, after the novel became popular, it would be those who were not included in the novel who found themselves upset. Ah, humanity.
This is one of the sun-porch rooms — and by far, the room where I would have wanted to spend the most time. It was rustic, yet bright and airy. Eugene (Thomas) spent many nights in this room.
This is the room, the one with the bay window Thomas couldn’t stand, where his beloved brother Ben passed away from double pneumonia at the age of 26. Although beautiful, it contains a tinge of sadness.
Here’s the parlor where their father spent much time in front of the coal-burning fireplace once he became sick.
And this was Eliza’s (Julia Wolfe’s) room. It is just off the massive kitchen and the smallest room in the house. Being the astute business woman that she was, the larger rooms (I believe 18 bedrooms in all) were saved for paying customers. But I liked her tiny room. It had its obvious perks. Nice sunlight, a comfy bed, a place for books, a small mirror, and did I mention it was within tip-toeing distance of the kitchen? What more could a girl ask for?
If you’ve read “Look Homeward, Angel”, you may remember how Eliza (Julia Wolfe) would send Eugene (Thomas) out to greet those departing local trains with business cards promoting their boarding house. For each customer he enticed, his mother would give him $1.00. (The one line “No Sick People” would have been enough to draw me in.)
During the tour, our guide gave each person one of the cards seen above — an exact replica of those Thomas would have handed out at the local train station. My husband, who is always on the ball, asked the guide for a few extras, thinking I may have a few fellow “Angel” fans in my writer’s group or beyond, who would enjoy using one for a bookmark.
So, if you’re an “Angel” fan, and would like to receive one, I would welcome the opportunity to share it with you. I can drop it in the mail, so it doesn’t matter where you live!
This novel took me to a wonderful place and time as I soaked in all the sights and sounds of a forgotten era. While I could have easily done without some of the language (a rude awakening when you’re accustomed to reading Christian non-fiction), the Lord used it as a catalyst of appreciation for my own family.
My time in Altamont (Asheville) was well spent.
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