Zebulon Vance Monument, Asheville
Richard Sharp Smith, Architect
The monument was built of rusticated granite blocks in the form of an obelisk. The square base and plinth are also granite. It was fashioned after the Washington monument and stands 75 feet tall. Aside from a small Masonic notation the only inscription when constructed was “Vance” inscribed on each side of the plinth. In 1938 the Asheville Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy added a bronze plaque above the west face inscription.
The monument had fallen into disrepair and was restored in 2015. At the June 2015 re-dedication another bronze plaque was placed on a small sloped granite block in front of the west face. The monument is surrounded by a black iron fence. Within the fence is another sloped granite block with a bronze inscription memorializing the capture of a piece of military equipment in World War I. This marker appears new with the restoration and may have been placed for future use.
Images: 1938 plaque | 2015 re-dedication plaque | Looking east | Close-up view | South corner block | With granite block dedicated to Robert E. Lee and the Dixie Highway
Plinth, all four sides: VANCE
West face, 1938 plaque: IN HONOR OF / ZEBULON BAIRD VANCE / CONFEDERATE SOLDIER, WAR GOVERNOR / U.S. SENATOR, ORATOR, STATESMAN, / MAY 30, 1830 APRIL 14, 1894 / THIS TABLET IS PLACED BY ASHEVILLE CHAPTER U.D.C. / 1938
South corner block: DEC. 22 A.L. 5897 / WALTER E. MOORE / GRAND MASTER
West side, 2015 plaque at base: ZEBULON BAIRD VANCE MONUMENT / CONSERVED AND REDEDICATED TO THE PEOPLE OF NORTH CAROLINA / BY THE ZEBULON VANCE MONUMENT PRESERVATION COMMITTEE/ THE SOCIETY FOR THE PRESERVATION OF THE / 26TH REGIMENT NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS / MAY 16, 2015 / THROUGH THE SUPPORT AND GENEROSITY OF: / [Left Column] VETUST CLUB / CHRIS ROBERTS / ASHEVILLE 104-UNITED DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACT / ELIZABETH C. GRAHAM & WINSTON W. PULLIAN / THE ASHEVILLE JEWISH COMMUNITY / THE GLASS FOUNDATION / MOUNT HERMAN LODGE NO. 118 / MERCENE KARKADOULIAS BRONZE ART / PHI GAMMA DELTA BROTHER CLINT JOHNSON / BATTERY D – 1ST NORTH CAROLINA ARTILLERY REGT. / D’AUTHRECHY, EDGE, & MORGAN FAMILY / THE FAMILY OF MAJOR ABNER BYNUM CARMICHAEL / MCGUIRE, WOOD, &BISSETTE, PA / [Right column] ZEBULON VANCE CAMP 15 – SVC / DR. PATRICIA DUCKETT BROWN, ED. D. / THE VAN WINKLE LAW FIRM / COLONEL JOHN RANDOLPH LANE SOCIETY / SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS – NC DIV. / THE PORTER FAMILY / THE CITY OF ASHEVILLE / BUNCOMBE COUNTY SERVICE FOUNDATION / MEMBERS OF PHI GAMMA DELTA / FREEMASONS OF NORTH CAROLINA / KESTREL CONSTRUCTION / THE BILTMORE COMPANY / & ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS ACROSS NC / “SO THAT THE FUTURE MAY LEARN FROM THE PAST”
City of Asheville
May 10, 1898
35.594980 , -82.551460 View in Geobrowse
"$2,000 Towards a Monument to Zebulon B. Vance," Fayetteville News and Observer (Fayetteville, NC), June 5, 1896 Link
"$2,000 for a Monument to Vance," The News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), July 4, 1895 Link
"Asheville, N.C., Pack Sqaure and City Hall" in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill Link
"Asheville’s monument to tolerance," Mountain XPress (Asheville, NC), May 7, 2003, (accessed June 28, 2014) Link
"North Side of Pack Square, South Side of Pack Square, Asheville, N.C." in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill Link
"Pack Square from Noland's Corner, Asheville, N.C." in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill Link
"Pack Square," National Park Service, (accessed June 28, 2014) Link
"The Vance Monument," The News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), July 9, 1899 Link
"Vance Monument on Pack Square and Main Business Section, Asheville, N.C." in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill Link
"Zebulon Vance Monument Preservation Project," 26th North Carolina Regiment, (accessed June 28, 2014) Link
Confederate Veteran, 6 (1898), p. 198. Link
Butler, Douglas J. North Carolina Civil War Monuments, An Illustrated History, (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2013) 57-58
Hunt, Max. "Debate over Asheville’s Confederate Memorials Continues," MountainExpress (Asheville, NC), mountainx.com, July 6, 2017, (accessed August 30, 2017) Link
Patrick, Emily. “Black History Emerges From 1987 Time Capsule,” The Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC) June 3, 2015, (accessed June 4, 2015) Link
Walton, Beth. “For Some Vance Legacy as Slaveowner Clouds Monument”, The Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC), March 13, 2015, (accessed August 4, 2015) Link
“Notice,” Asheville Citizen (Asheville, NC), July 23, 1897
“The Monument is Dedicated,” Asheville Citizen (Asheville, NC), May 10, 1898
“With Masonic Ceremony,” Asheville Citizen (Asheville, NC), December 22, 1897
Vance Monument Association (primarily George W. Pack who donated $2,000, or, two-thirds of the total cost) The architect R.S. Smith donated his services.
The cornerstone dedication was held on December 22, 1897 in a ceremony conducted by the North Carolina Grand Lodge of Masons, with more than 70 Freemasons present. Past Grand Master H.F. Busbee explained the symbolic meaning of cornerstone ceremonies in his address. The ceremony in its entirety was printed in the Asheville Daily Citizen as was the speech of Rev. R.R. Swoop the featured orator of the day. As part of the ceremony a bronze box time capsule was laid under the cornerstone (see Subject Notes).
On dedication day, May 10, 1898, flags and buntings fluttered everywhere on buildings near the heart of downtown Asheville. The day began with a concert by the Asheville Concert Band. As members of the Zebulon Vance Camp, United Confederate Veterans marched in from the south, Tennessee Governor Robert B. Taylor; the orator for the day was escorted onto the stage. Despite the presence of Confederate veterans and being held on Confederate Memorial Day the ceremony was not an overt celebration of the Lost Cause. In a speech lasting about 30 minutes Governor Taylor made only two brief references to Vance’s service to the Confederacy, instead detailing his time in service to the United States.
After a $150,000 restoration the Vance monument was rededicated on June 6, 2015 (date on the plaque is May 15). Speeches were delivered by city leaders, fundraisers and Vance historians and plans were revealed to place a new time capsule. During the ceremony the racial strife of the 19th century was noted as was the fact that the Vance family owned slaves. City Council member Jan Davis commended efforts to raise a monument to African Americans. David Gantt, chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners also spoke on Asheville’s segregated past. He was quoted as saying, “I do think (Vance) would welcome the opportunity to tell both sides of everything. If we don’t, we’re going to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
Zebulon Baird Vance was the governor of North Carolina from 1862 to 1865 and from 1877 to 1879. He also served in the Confederate army until 1862. He is remembered for having worked hard to supply the Confederate troops and to protect the rights of North Carolina during the war. He served in the United States Senate from 1879 to his death in 1894. He was a very popular Democratic figure in North Carolina. Read more about Zebulon Baird Vance.
The Society for the Historical Preservation of the 26th Regiment North Carolina Troops, Inc. (26th N.C.) formed a partnership with the Department of Cultural Arts of the city of Asheville in 2012 to restore the Vance monument. During restoration the bronze box time capsule was removed. Among its contents was a copy of The Colored Enterprise, an African-American newspaper published in the 1890’s. Historians were aware of this newspaper but no copies were known to exist.
The granite obelisk was cut from the Pacolet quarries in Henderson County.
Given Zebulon Vance’s ties to slavery and the Civil War, the publicity surrounding restoration efforts led local activist to push for an African-American monument to be placed in Pack Square near the Vance monument. Sasha Mitchell, chairwoman of the city's African American Heritage Commission, noted that: "Communities tell the world what they value and what parts of their history matter by what they display with public monuments." After the hate crime murder of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015 the controversy over commemoration of the Confederacy and those with a tie to the legacy of slavery intensified across the nation. Many such memorials to include the Vance monument were vandalized. It was painted with the phrase “Black lives matter” which became a rallying cry against racial injustice in the aftermath of the Charleston murders.
The monument is in the center of Pack Square Park, near the Buncombe County Courthouse and City Hall. A granite block with a bronze plaque marking the Dixie Highway and in honor of Robert E. Lee sits west of the monument. Several hundred yards east in the immediate area of the old Buncombe County Courthouse there are other notable plaques, monuments and memorials: Western North Carolina Veterans Memorial, 60th NC Regiment, Revolutionary War, Spanish American and other wars, Police and Firemen who died in the line of duty, Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Colonel Robert Morgan and former Governor Samuel Ashe for whom Asheville was named.
The monument is in the center of the downtown square, surrounded by beds containing seasonal plantings.