The Oakley Neighborhood Association is made up of organizers, volunteers and other Oakley community members dedicated to creating a more cohesive as a community and having a strong voice regarding our needs and local development. To become the inclusive and unified community that we envision, we realize that it is imperative that the voices of all interested neighbors be articulated, recognized and heard. To that end, we have established this Association to enable anyone living in our community to share their voice, their vision for the community, and their contributions to our communal efforts to build the best Oakley possible - for everyone.
The History of Oakley Neighborhood
Oakley emerged as part of Buncombe County during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Originally called West's Chapel, named for the community’s strong association with the chapel located on the current West Chapel road off Sweeten Creek Road, the area featured acres of rolling farmlands. In 1917, the City of Asheville took over Oakley School, named for the “great oaks” surrounding the school, and the neighborhood has been called Oakley ever since.
The neighborhood marks the line of delineation between what was once the rural wilderness and “town”. Quoted in the ACT in 2016, Oakley resident H.L. Wilson recalls “the days when an Oakley person could run dogs up on Busbee Mountain, and there was some wilderness around.”
Following the arrival of the rail line to Asheville, rural locations surrounding Asheville’s small core, particularly the locations immediately adjacent to water or railways quickly began to industrialize. Oakley’s geographic footprint happened to be situated among both. As a result, by the 1920’s, the dairies and pastureland that once propagated the area eventually transitioned into a planned suburban community. The community, conveniently located between Sayles Bleachery and Biltmore, was home to both the blue-collar workers and upper middle-class foremen that were employed there. By 1939, Oakley had five churches, including Fairmont Baptist, an African American church on Stoner Road.
While not incorporated into the City of Asheville until 1960, Oakley’s roots run as deep as its old-growth oaks that inspired its namesake.
For more on the history of Oakley, check out these resources:
Rob Neufeld | 5.19.16
Rob Neufeld | 8.15.21