The History of the Lion & the Rose

TheLion & the Rose Bed & Breakfast Inn is in Asheville's oldest Historic District of Montford.  Established in 1893, Montford covers 300 acres and represents one of the richest varieties of architectural styles in North Carolina.

The Lion & Rose contains elements of Colonial Revival, Georgian, and neo-classical styles.  The two and one half story house visually divides into three distinct levels with a stone foundation, pebble dash walls, double Doric posts on stone pedestals, and an elaborate center gable.

The Lion & Rose circa 1910 The Lion & Rose

The house is known as the Craig-Toms House, from the names of the first two families who owned it.  Elmer and Charity Rusk Craig moved to Asheville from Wisconsin in 1896 in an effort to revive Mr. Craig's failing health.  The North Carolina mountain air was thought to be a curative.

Mrs. Craig's father, Jeremiah Rusk, was the Governor of Wisconsin, a Congressman, and the first US Secretary of Agriculture. 

Jeremiah Rusk

Charity Rusk Craig was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and served as the National President of the Women's Relief Corps.

Charity Rusk Craig

In 1913 the Toms family purchased the house.  The oldest daughter, Hortense Toms, liked to play tennis in the side yard.  The oldest son in the Toms family, Charles French Toms Jr., was a contemporary of the famous American author and Asheville native - Thomas Wolfe.

Hortense at the Tennis Court Hortense Toms

Wolfe wrote about many of the people he knew in Asheville.  In an excerpt from his novel Look Homeward, Angel, he thinly disguises Charles French Toms as Tom French in this confrontation among teenage boys:

"There came and sat beside him Tom French, his handsome face vested in the hard insolence of money. ...Confused and angry, with sullen boastfulness, Tom French said: 'Nobody has anything on me.  I've been too slick for them.'

Charles French Toms

The only other reference to Charles French Toms describes another ordinary but revealing scene:

"Meanwhile, having completed their parade up and down the street, the Misses...were accosted outside the drug store by Tom French, 17, Roy Duncan, 19, and Carl Jones, 18.  'Where do you think you're going?' said Tom French, insolently...  They moved into the drug store through the idling group of fountain gallants.  All I (Wolfe) could never be."