Black Mountain, North Carolina
Located in Black Mountain, North Carolina, is the family estate, farm and kilns of Rafael Guastavino.
Rafael Guastavino and his son, also Rafael, came in 1894 to Black Mountain where they brought land for an estate which he named "Rhododendron". At Christmount are the brick foundations of "the Spanish Castle," Guastavino’s three-storey impressive home on his estate, built not of stone and tile, but of wood, while he was installing tiles at Biltmore Estate in Asheville. His old wine cellar, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is right by the road.
Several kilns were built near the house and these kilns produced much of the brick and tile used in the construction of vaulted ceilings and arches at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. The ruins of one kiln (pictured right) still remain on what is now the Christmount Christian Assembly camp and conference center. Foundations for the "Spanish Castle" are located nearby along with a wine cellar, stone walls and many other building foundations and landscape areas. Nearly 8 acres of this unique estate are registered as a National Historic Site.
A Walking Tour of eleven sites on the Christmount property offers a view into this working estate from the late 1800's into the 1940's. Photographs show what the estate looked like during those years. Information from historical records, letters and written accounts are included on the signs. Walking Tour brochure
A temporary exhibit has been established at Christmount in the Cook Guest House to house some of the relics from the house and kiln areas that were found over the years. The exhibit is open to the public. There are plans to restore the reflecting pond fountainhead that has been recovered. A grassroots effort is underway to create a fitting and well desired museum devoted to the life and work of Rafael Guastavino.
Swannanoa Valley Museum presently exhibits a huge bell that was mounted at the Spanish Castle. It also owns Mrs. Guastavino's bonnet and dress along with other artifacts and photos.