Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A History of Asheville: Part V of X

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Part One and explanation here
Parts Two and Three here
Part Four here

Asheville - 1920-1930

Like many American cities, Asheville celebrated a booming economy in the 1920s, blissfully ignorant of an awaiting financial doom. Consumer confidence soared in Asheville as a thriving downtown quickly filled with shops and buildings to become known as the hub of Western North Carolina. The Pack Memorial Public Library moved into a new building in 1926. The striking new structure was constructed out of Georgia White Marble. Also during this era, a new courthouse, built of brick and Tennessee limestone, was dedicated on Dec. 1, 1928.

During the early 1920s, dignitaries and celebrities from across the world ventured to Asheville seeking fresh mountain air. It was a time when famous author F. Scott Fitzgerald enjoyed the luxuriousness of the Grove Park Inn along with presidents and other statesmen. Thomas Wolfe came back home to visit, and was well received. Numerous new housing developments accompanied Asheville's economic expansion. Grovemont, Kenilworth, Malvern Hills, Beverly Hills and Hollywood were clipped from surrounding farmland and advertised through the local media.

Doctors around the country recommended the mountains of Western North Carolina, particularly Asheville, to patients for respiratory problems. Many tuberculosis (consumption) sanitariums sprang up in the Asheville area

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe Asheville City Hall, built in 1926 - 1928, exemplifies Art Deco architecture and represents the style exercised by internationally known architect Douglas Ellington. City Hall also stands as a magnificent symbol of the development boom of the twenties when civic projects were undertaken in the "Program of Progress" to keep pace with speculative construction throughout Asheville.

Asheville City Hall is a colorful and massive "fortress-like" structure rising eight full stories into the Asheville sky. The materials chosen for the building included marble, brick and terra cotta and were selected in colors to parallel the clay-pink shades of the local Asheville soil. The building is topped with a stepped octagonal roof covered with bands of elongated triangular terra-cotta red tiles and crowned by a heavy conical tower.

The City Building was designed by Douglas D. Ellington, an architect then living in Asheville. Born in Clayton, North Carolina, on June 26, 1886, Ellington was educated at Randolph-Macon College, Drexel Institute, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Ellington first came to Asheville in the 1920s. Among the buildings he designed in Asheville were the Lee Edwards High School, the First Baptist Church, Biltmore Hospital, the S & W Cafeteria Building, and the Merrimon Avenue Fire Station. (all of which are still standing).

In May of 1927, Asheville Mayor John H. Cathey reported "that the City was completing a municipal home that would prove an attraction to visitors and a pride to residents." He also announced that the cost of the new City Hall was $750,000.

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