History

Opportunity to Visit Famous Thomas Wolfe Angel

The angel sculpture which stood at Pack Square at W.O.’s Wolfe’s marble workshop in the 20’s can be found in Hendersonville at the Oakdale Cemetery.

Hendersonville – Once again, the Hendersonville Guided History Walks are taking place.    Mary Jo Padgett is offering three popular history walks in June at $10 per person if 10 years and older. Hendersonville is full of interesting historic tidbits on which Padgett will elaborate and enlighten you.  

The first tour, on June 11, will stroll along historic Main Street; the walk begins at 10 am at the front steps of City Hall, the corner of Fifth Avenue E. and King St. Dive deep into the town history and even learn for whom was the town named. You’d be surprised to know that Hendersonville once had an Opera House, where it was, and facts about bordellos, shoot-outs, trolley lines, and stories of life in the old days on Chinquapin Hill. It will stir your historic imagination.

The second walk on, Friday, June 18, is to be held at the Oakdale Cemetery, where the famous Italian marble monument which inspired the title of Thomas Wolfe’s book, “Look Homeward, Angel,” is located. This angel is considered the “real deal” and marks the grave of Mrs. Margaret Bates Johnson, wife of the late Dr. H.G. Johnson, a minister and former president of Whitworth College in Brookhaven, Mississippi. For protection from vandals, it is now surrounded by iron fencing. This statue stood on the porch at W. O. Wolfe’s (Thomas Wolfe’s father) workshop on Pack Square in Asheville to advertise his marble business. This one, and other carved angels, served as an inspiration for one of his son’s Thomas Wolfe’s short stories and the renowned book titled  “Look Homeward, Angel.” 

The third walk, on Friday, June 25th, will cover 7th Avenue and the Historic Depot District. You can hear stories about Hendersonville’s Gilded Age with the coming of the railroad and well-to-do tourists. The Wheeler Hotel was one of the fancy inns located in the 7th Avenue/Historic Depot District.   

“Locals and visitors alike can celebrate and share the interesting history and architecture of Hendersonville,” Padgett said, “For example, learn how the rich natural resources here – the local clay for brick, the hand-hewn foundation rocks from local quarries, and, in fact, the heritage carried from the earlier Cherokee lifestyle – have contributed to our lives today.”

Padgett served on Hendersonville City Council for eight years, is a journalist and public relations consultant, co-founded and the former executive director of ECO and was the associate editor at The Mother Earth News magazine. She conducts classes and courses about Paris and the American Revolution in Life Long Learning Centers here in the US and  Paris. Padgett has lived in a 100-year-old house in downtown Hendersonville for 40 years. She grew up on a farm in Rutherford County.

To make reservations or for more information on the June Hendersonville Walks, contact Padgett at 828-545-3179 or email maryjo@maryjopadgett.com. Visit www.maryjopadgett.com and click on Guided Walks for a complete 2021 schedule.

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