Rich Mathews has been involved with history and historic preservation in Asheville since he moved here in 1978. He’s a skilled preservation craftsman who has worked on the renovation or restoration of several local landmarks, including First Baptist Church in downtown Asheville, and Richmond Hill Inn. He has served on local, statewide and national preservation organizations as a historic preservation advocate. In the early 1990s, he served as the Executive Director of Neighborhood Housing Services, working to merge the sometimes conflicting goals of historic preservation and affordable housing.
Rich helped create the Albemarle Park Local Historic District, and participated actively in the development of architectural and landscape design guidelines. As a long-time member of the Albemarle Park – Manor Grounds Association, he helped strengthen the ties of community among the residents through several preservation projects. For the past 14 months, he has been renovating and restoring Manzanita Cottage, the rustic 1906 house which he and his family call home.
Rich lectures regularly on local history, focusing on “hidden history” and “local history you need to know.” His most recent effort has been the research for and creation of historic markers for the Town Branch Greenway, markers which shed light on the people, places and events in the Southside neighborhood, which suffered enormously during the era of urban renewal.