Known today as the Smith-McDowell House, Buck House was constructed around 1840, over twenty years before the Civil War. During a time when most people lived in wood frame houses, the imposing structure was composed of brick and is the oldest surviving house in Asheville and the oldest brick structure in Buncombe County, North Carolina.  On the National Register of Historic Places, the Smith-McDowell House is the finest surviving example of brick antebellum architecture in Western North Carolina.

The AB-Tech campus occupies most of what was once known as the town of Victoria, established in the mid-1880’s.  Alexander Garret, who lived in the Smith-McDowell House in the 1880s, was the first mayor of Victoria, in 1887.

Copyright AB Tech - SunnicrestThe town of Victoria grew to 15 homes, 6 of which were built by George Vanderbilt as “summer cottages” available to rent by friends and acquaintances.  Designed by Richard Sharp Smith, supervising architect to the Biltmore Estate, these Tudoresque style homes featured pebbledash and stucco – a technique Smith became known for and is seen throughout Asheville.  Sunnicrest is the only Vanderbilt Rental Villa remaining.  Today it is the HR building. Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of The Secret Garden, reportedly rented Sunnicrest for 2 months in the winter of 1904, when it rented for $350 a month or $2500 a year (about $9000 a month in today’s money).

Fernihurst was built by John Kerr Connally in 1875, as a large 25 room Italianate style house – and over the years it was added on to become a “50 room monstrosity” as differing architectural styles were tacked on to expand it. In 1933 when John P Curran acquired the house he removed 38 of the additional rooms, reverting to the original structure that was built from bricks hand-made from clay on the property. The Fernihurst Mansion is now home to AB-tech offices and the culinary school.