Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area in western North Carolina, Hendersonville (population 12,005) has long been a destination for travelers. Located 22 miles south of Asheville, the town was chartered in 1847 as the county seat of Henderson County. Like the county, the city was named for North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Leonard Henderson.
The city became a vacation area for residents from southern coastal regions seeking relief from hot summers. The arrival of the railroad on July 4, 1879 exploded the tourist industry and put Hendersonville on the map as an exporter of fruits and vegetables, primarily apples and cabbage.
The Historic Hendersonville Depot was constructed in 1902, and for many years was the hub of economic and social interaction among Hendersonville and the surrounding communities. Passenger travel to the city ended in 1968, and while the railroad is still used by a few freight cars each week, the decline in rail travel did not bode well for the Depot. The City purchased the deteriorating building in 1988, and the nonprofit Apple Valley Model Railroad Club oversaw its move to the Seventh Avenue area and exterior renovations. It was not until 2003, though, that efforts began to remodel the interior so it could serve as a public meeting space and tourist attraction.
Today, the restored Depot is a social hub of Seventh Avenue. Each summer the building hosts the Bizarre Bazaar festival, which attracts visitors with food, entertainment, and craft vendors. Still, the main attraction at the Depot remains the Apple Valley Model Railroad Club's HO-gauge model railroad, which depicts historic Hendersonville and other local communities during the peak of rail travel.
Hendersonville contains seven National Register and Local Historic Districts, which protect the city's residential and commercial heritage. Main Street, a National Register and Local Historic District, is a vital part of the city's economic and cultural growth. In 1977, city leaders reconfigured Main Street into a serpentine pattern to increase its walkability and to encourage beautiful and creative landscaping.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2010.