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Lincoln Memorial University Historic Walking Tour
Item 2 of 20

This section of all is all that remains of a large limestone wall that was part of the pleasure gardens surrounding the Four Seasons Hotel in 1892. The hotel, part of the American Association development of Alexander Arthur, was built to cater to the world's rich and famous.


  • The only remains of the Four Season Hotel stand just outside of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum.
  • 1/2 of an ad in the Asheville Daily Citizen for the Four Seasons Hotel. Alexander Arthur was friend with the Vanderbilts, and admired the Biltmore Estate located there.
  • 2/2 of an ad in the Asheville Daily Citizen for the Four Seasons Hotel.
  • The New York Tribune advertised to New Yorkers that the Four Seasons Hotel was an ideal winter getaway at only 28 hours away.
  • Johnson City, TN newspaper The Comet chronicled the Four Seasons Hotel's spiraling economic future.
  • The Four Seasons Hotel as it appeared in 1892. From a postcard.

The grounds of the Four Season Hotel contained beautiful gardens like the one that this wall would have contained, carriage roads, and trails through the mountains. The hotel closed one year after opening due to an economic depression that forced it into bankruptcy and later sold for salvage. Most of the construction of the American Association properties is distinguished by the white, rusticated limestone seen in this wall. Some of the older University structures and trees give evidence of this graceful beginning to Lincoln Memorial University.

The 700-room Four Seasons hotel opened on April 12, 1891, with a ball and banquet. The goal of the hotel was a part of Arthur's larger plan to make nearby Middlesboro, Kentucky, "the Pittsburgh of the South" - much like Middlesboro would mimic Middlesboro, England, Harrogate, Tennessee would mimic the spa town of Harrogate, England. However, after the Panic of 1893, the Four Seasons Hotel was dismantled and disappeared from the landscape, leaving only the 200-room Sanatorium. In 1897, the Trustees of Lincoln Memorial University Purchased the property and Sanatorium, later to become Grant-Lee Hall.

Asheville daily citizen. volume (Asheville, N.C.), 07 March 1892. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn91068076/1892-03-07/ed-1/seq-2/>

The comet. (Johnson City, Tenn.), 15 June 1893. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89058128/1893-06-15/ed-1/seq-1/>

New-York tribune. (New York [N.Y.]), 28 Dec. 1892. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1892-12-28/ed-1/seq-8/>

Sweet, Natalie. Images of America: Harrogate and Cumberland Gap. Charleston, South Carolina. Arcadia Publishing, 2014. 

Suppiger, Joseph E. Phoenix of the Mountains: The Story of Lincoln Memorial University. Harrogate, TN: Lincoln Memorial University Press, 2001 (originally published in 1977).