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Asheville has been called the Paris of the south because of the prevalance of art-deco buildings. In the 1920s, a booming decade for Asheville, more art deco buildings were constructed here than any other city in the Southeastern U.S. except Miami Beach. More than Sixty-five buildings were erected in downtown Asheville during this period. The most prominent of these structures is Asheville's City Hall, completed in 1928 and designed by Douglas Ellington, who studied in Paris. Ellington was originally slated to design the County Building, which stands next door to City Hall. Instead, Ellington was too busy with the latter building, and had to cede control of the County Building to someone else. The result was a conservative, neoclassical structure that stands in sharp contrast to Ellington's City Hall.
The largest private home in the United States, the Biltmore Estate, was completed in 1985. The country estate of George Washington Vanderbilt II, it is comprised of over 250 rooms and sits on 125,000 acres of land. Today it is still owned by the same family, who operates it as a museum.
The boyhood home of Thomas Wolfe--author and arguably the city's most famous native--still survives today and is available to tour. Built in the early 1880s, it is the setting for Wolfe's 1929 novel, Look Homeward, Angel, and an example of the numerous boarding houses that sprung up in the area at the time.
Of Asheville's many churches, one of the most remarkable is the
Basilica of St. Lawrence, completed in 1909. The architect responsible for its construction, Rafael Guastavino, also had a hand in building the Biltmore Estate. Two Spanish Baroque towers flank the entrance, and rise to a height of five stories. The church also contains the largest, unsupported tile dome in the United States.