Asheville’s African American Black History Timeline
1860— James Vester Miller was born in Rutherfordton during slavery. He later began a well-known building contractor and land developer.
1865— St. Matthias Episcopal Church on Dundee Street was established.
1867— Nazareth First Baptist Church, Pine Street was founded
1868— Hopkins Chapel AME Zion Church, College Street
1880— Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church considered as the largest black church in the mountains was founded.
1882— Newton Shepherd became the first black person to be elected to Asheville’s Board of Aldermen.
1884— Henry Sexton was appointed as the first black person to serves as a policeman in Asheville.
1885— Allen Home School was opened. In later years, the name of the school was changed to Allen High School and was opened to girls only.
1887— St James AME Church
1887— Issac Dickson was appointed to Asheville’s first school board.
1888— Asheville Enterprise Newspaper
1888— The first school for black students was opened in an abandoned building on Beaumont Street. Some 300 students were enrolled and more than 800 were turned away because of the lack of space.
1891— The city school board purchased land near Valley Street for the construction of Catholic Hill School for black students.
1891— The Rev. Charles Dusenbury arrived in Asheville to establish Calvary Presbyterian Church.
1892— The Young Men’s Institute (YMI) building was constructed on a site at Eagle and S. Market Street. The building was financed by George W. Vanderbilt.
1895— Dr. Marcus W. Alson became the city’s first black physician.
1895— Landowner Charles Collins refused to sell his small house and 6 acres of land to George W. Vanderbilt. Collins lived in Old Shiloh area where the Biltmore Estate is now located.
1897— B.J. Jackson opened the B.J. Jackson Vegetable Market in the lower level of the old City Hall building. He was the first black man to own a business on Pack Square.
1910— Dr. William Green Torrence opened the first black hospital. The hospital, known as Torrence Hospital, was moved to 95 Hill Street in 1911.
1910— Noah Murrough became the city’s first black licensed undertaker and owner of the first funeral home.
1914— Fred Pope Martin Sr. opened a tailoring shop on the eastside of Pack Square near the old City Hall building. He relocated the business to 29 College Street in 1916.
1916— The Colored Betterment League under the leadership of the Rev. Charles Dusenbury was established.
1917— Catholic Hill School for black students was destroyed by fire. Seven students died in the fire.
1922— Blue Ridge Hospital was established on Clingman Avenue for black people.
1923— Stephens-Lee High School was opened March 7, 1923.
1927— Mrs. Irene Hendrick opened Asheville’s first public library for black people in the YMI Building.
1931— Dr. L.O. Miller, an Asheville physician, developed a method for treating high blood pressure.
1933— The Southern News weekly newspaper was established with Eugene Smith serving as editor.
1937— Asheland Avenue School was opened for black students.
1946— Delaney Horne and Gilbert Sligh were hired as the city’s first black policemen since 1884.
1959— Funeral director Jesse G. Ray Sr. was named president of the newly formed Service Credit Union.
1977— Historian Johnnie Baxter led a successful drive to have the YMI Building placed on the National Register of Historic Places.