The historic town of Marshall, nestled between rocky cliffs and the scenic French Broad River, celebrates its colorful past while passionately embracing the contemporary. Main Street, lined with original buildings including our century-old courthouse, is home to artists’ studios, galleries, music and dance venues, and eclectic shops.
The Town of Marshall
The town of Marshall’s history was defined by the French Broad River. The Main Street has the river on one side and a cliff on the other. Transportation routes along the river and the subsequent railroad created a booming economy for the town in the past. The courthouse demonstrates the town’s importance as county seat and the historic Allen House sits amidst historic businesses, both exhibiting architectural beauty. The mix of the government and the eclectic art studios creates a unique atmosphere for the town. Across the bridge, Blannahassett Island provides a peaceful setting for picnics and recreational activities.
The Madison County Courthouse was built in 1907 and designed by Richard Sharp Smith (head architect for the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC). The two story Neo-Classical Revival brick structure sits in the heart of Marshall with an unobstructed view of the French Broad River.
The oldest building on Main Street, constructed in 1849, the Colonel Lawrence M. Allen House played an important part in the Civil War. A marker in front of the house (part of the Civil War Trails) tells the story. The house itself is a typical “I-house” which was a common form throughout Western North Carolina from the early 1800s into the 1900s.
Marshall has a unique geographic location situated in a ravine on the French Broad River with just Main Street and the railroad running between the river and the steep cliff on the blocks of the historic downtown.
Three of the town of Marshall’s historic markers are placed in front of the historic County Courthouse on Main Street in downtown Marshall. Two share a “road” theme as one commemorates the Dixie Highway from the early part of the 20th century; the other commemorates the Buncombe Turnpike (or Drover’s Trail as it is sometime called) from the 19th century.