Special Events

If you have not been to Asheville before, you are in for a treat. 

Asheville sits at about 2500 feet in altitude in the western corner of North Carolina and boasts the PANORAMIC beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as a progressive mountain-urban culture and fun and funky arts community. It has been drawing literati and celebrities since the turn of the century.  Thomas Wolfe was born here and Charles Frazier set a novel on a mountain near here; Celtic music found a welcome home here; the newer sounds of Bluegrass got their start very near here; and George Vanderbilt built a home here.  Not just any home, mind you, but a 250 room mansion, modeled after a 16th century chateaux in France’s Loire Valley, and recognized as the largest private residence in the USA.  Richard Morris Hunt, by the way, designed the house and Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York’s Central Park, landscaped the estate.  SCSECS conference participants will enjoy an afternoon excursion to tour the Biltmore House and formal gardens, followed by a wine tasting on the grounds of the estate.      

Frommer’s names Asheville as one of their top twelve travel destinations in the world (2007).  Ten U.S. presidents have visited, including Presidents William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and Bill J. Clinton.  Most recently, President Barack H. Obama campaigned in Asheville and, last year, spent his summer vacation here.  Authors  such as F. Scott and his wife Zelda Fitzgerald have vacationed here; statesmen, businessmen, and inventors like Henry Kissinger, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firstone have played golf here, and stars such as Harry Houdini, Jack Lemmon, Anthony Hopkins, Judy Collins, Gene Hackman, and even Mickey Mouse have spent the night here.  In February, we will add your name and SCSECS to this prestigious list of visitors to Asheville and the historic Grove Park Inn.

Definitely, bring your walking shoes as the Asheville area boasts more than 2,000 miles of trails, some of the Southeast’s finest whitewater, and nine of the state’s major waterfalls.  Less than twenty minutes away is the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is recognized as the nation’s most popular scenic highway.  Its 470 miles link the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.  Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can wind your way around North America’s oldest mountain—Grandfather Mountain—and climb to the highest point east of the Mississippi River—which is Mount Mitchell at 6, 684 feet. 

If an urban hike is more your speed, Asheville has that, too! The downtown area’s urban trail system is well marked and has become a very popular activity for those who want to see the sights while getting some exercise. There is probably more art deco architecture built in the late 1920s and early 1930s that can be found in downtown Asheville than in any other southeastern city outside Miami.  Asheville was once called the PARIS of the SOUTH.  More recently, it has been called the SOHO of the BLUE RIDGE and is known for its vibrant arts community—an eclectic variety of sophisticated urban galleries and homespun Appalachian handicrafts, rare and used book shops, elegant symphonies, funky fusions of drums and jazz, and blue grass in the streets. 

Along the urban trail, you will have multiple opportunities to tempt your taste buds at any one of Asheville’s seventy locally owned cafés, restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries.  You will not go hungry in Asheville—a community known for its good food.  Watch for the Asheville Restaurant Guide to appear on the SCSECS website and be sure to sign up for SCSECS’s first-ever “POSTER SESSION” lunch downtown.  More details coming soon!  In the meantime, what’s a good meal without a fine beverage?

Well, Charlie Papazian, founder of the Association of Brewers and the American Homebrewers Association, recently recognized Asheville as the Brew Capital, USA (Examiner.com).  Boasting nine microbreweries in the downtown area, alone, this is another good reason to bring your walking shoes to Asheville.  Additionally, on Wednesday evening before the conference officially begins, attendees can elect to participate in a SCSECS Brews Cruise to three of Asheville’s favorite microbreweries.  This is a tasty, pre-conference treat you will not want to miss!

For more information about the special events in store for you at SCSECS 2012, click on the links below.

Biltmore Estate
ETSU Celtic Band
Les Indes Galantes
Brews Cruise

In Asheville, our eyes are drawn upward to blue mountain vistas in every direction. I look forward to welcoming you in person to the Appalachian mountain south and to exploring the multitudinous panoramas and prospects of the long eighteenth century at the conference. 

See you in Asheville!
Phyllis Thompson, President
South Central Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies