The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County (PSABC) was formed in 1976, with interest in preservation sparked by observance of the U. S. Bicentennial, and in response to threats to local buildings and sites posed by neglect, insensitive alteration, and large-scale transportation projects. Disinvestment in downtown, plans for the open cut through Beaucatcher Mountain, and a proposal to turn Montford Avenue into a through street connecting to U.S.19-23 spurred formation of the volunteer group, which quickly incorporated and initiated work as a community non-profit.
Among the early accomplishments of PSABC was convincing the N. C. Dept. of Cultural Resources to open a Western Office in Asheville, introducing professional preservation services to the region. The Society advocated to city Council and County Commission to establish a joint city-county local landmark and historic district commission, to designate Montford as a local historic district, and to provide matching funds for local survey of historic buildings and sites. These actions made possible the historic designation of numerous sites and districts, and contributed to downtown revitalization and preservation of historic places county-wide.
Donation of the deteriorated Gudger House on Montford Avenue to PSABC, which in turn stabilized the house with volunteer labor before selling it to a new steward, led to the establishment of a historic preservation revolving fund. Proceeds were rolled into preservation of Richmond Hill, which in turn helped finance the purchase of the Manor Inn. PSABC has bought and sold other historic properties, placing covenants ensuring long-term stewardship and preservation. More recently, PSABC operated as seller’s agent for the historic Patton-Parker House, contributing to appropriate rehabilitation design, and ensuring its long term preservation by a new steward.
PSABC has offered real estate purchase options, donations of easements, and technical preservation expertise to save numerous historic properties in the last forty years. In 1977, PSABC established an annual Heritage Week, with a house tour, the Griffin Awards luncheon, and a Preservation Ball and auction. Variations of these events are ongoing into the present day. Public programs about building preservation and local history and culture represent the group’s educational mission.
A generous bequest enabled PSABC to hire an Executive Director in 1992, and since that time, the group has employed one full or part-time staff member to administrate non-profit operations. In 2017, PSABC hired a second full time employee for the first time. In over 40 years of service to the community, PSABC is known for creative solutions to difficult preservation problems, and for local leadership in public and private stewardship of significant buildings and places. The group is defined by a willingness to take on difficult projects, and by the dedication of many hardworking volunteers and members.