San Francisco Plantation, established 1860. This plantation home is one of the most ornate in the South. The story goes that the French phrase “son saint-frusquin,” or “the shirt off his back,” was a description of what the construction of the house cost its first owner, Edmond Marmillion. This became mistranslated into San Francisco. The property and home is expansive and beautiful. You can opt for a guided tour of the home or, if you’re short on time, you can enjoy a self guided tour around the grounds.
To me, the South means beauty in unexpected places. Mount Helena, off old Highway 61 in the Mississippi Delta, is a unique Southern home because it sits atop a ceremonial Indian mound. It’s the last thing you expect to see when you’re driving along the flat Delta region. But I think that speaks to the South you encounter day after day. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something beautiful and unexpected comes into view and you’re reminded why you love calling the South home.
Thomas Wolfe, an Asheville native, reached international fame after his first full length novel, Look Homeward, Angel, was published in 1929. There are many incidents in the book that reference his mother’s boardinghouse that was known around town as “Old Kentucky Home”. In the book, he referred to it as “Dixieland”. The Victorian home was constructed in 1883.
Wolfe’s vivid references to Asheville and his “Old Kentucky Home” led to Look Homeward, Angel being banned from public libraries in Asheville for seven years. Time heals all wounds and Wolfe is now honored as one of the city’s most famous sons and the “Old Kentucky Home” is a well preserved memorial and museum that honors one of the giants of 20th century literature. Asheville is a lovely city with such a diverse history. If you’re ever passing through I highly encourage you to make the time to visit the “Old Kentucky Home” and take a tour.
Anytime I visit Asheville I stop by my favorite local coffee shop, Izzy’s Coffee Den, and I grab a coffee to go. Then, I head over to Tom’s place at 48 Spruce Street to pay my respects and sit in a rocking chair on the front porch and have a cup of coffee. If you ever come here, I recommend you do this after the tourist center closes and it’s quiet and peaceful. And if you’re looking for some great books to add to your reading list, add one of Wolfe’s four novels to your list: