Take The Ingles Open Road to Thomas Wolfe Historic Site in Asheville NC
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I’m Chris Bainbridge… inviting you to take a ride with me. This is an amazing place to find adventure in all shapes and sizes. Ingles has sent me on a mission to bring you the very best of what our beautiful home has to offer – food, fun, nature music, and more… all affordable, and all out of the ordinary. This is The Ingles Open Road.
Welcome to what is known by many as the most famous boarding house in American fiction. Today, we’re in downtown Asheville, North Carolina – here at The Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site. A building out of the pages of American literature, and American history.
In his seminal work, “Look Homeward Angel”, Thomas Wolfe set his largely autobiographical story in the fictional town of Altamont… based on his hometown of Asheville. And the story’s central structure, the Dixieland boarding house, was based on this real Queen Anne, known as The Old Kentucky Home.
Thomas Wolfe was born in the year 1900 to William Oliver Wolfe and Julia Elizabeth Westall. The youngest of eight children, the baby boy would grow up to become one of the giants of American literature.
And he would grow up here in Asheville. He attended the Orange Street School through 8th grade. Then private school, and eventually on to UNC-Chapel Hill and Harvard. He moved to New York to teach at NYU and pursue playwriting. But when his plays didn’t sell, he turned to writing his first novel.
“Look Homeward Angel” was published in 1929. It tells the story of Eugene Gant, based on Wolfe himself, from his birth up until he leaves home as a young man. Many in town very much recognized themselves in the pages of Wolfe’s novel. And so, he stayed away for almost eight years. But he eventually returned home to a warm welcome.
The novel was a hit. The stream of consciousness narrative was praised for its emotional power. It would eventually be adapted into a Broadway play… and the play into a musical and eventually a TV movie. If you’re looking for a bit of light reading, this isn’t the book for you. It is dark, beautiful, poetic, and heavy… and worth it.
Though he died young, Wolfe’s work and legacy would live on. The Thomas Wolfe Memorial became a National Historic Landmark in 1971, and the home has been welcoming fans of the author since the 1950’s. Today, they’re ready to welcome you. You can plan your visit at WolfeMemorial.com. Your weekend is waiting… on the Ingles Open Road.