by Paul Clark The biggest challenge to making a movie about the busking scene in downtown Asheville, says Erin Derham, was knowing when to stop. New buskers cycled through town all summer, giving the filmmaker endless possibilities to flesh out her story on the subculture these musicians inhabit. Super-organized and deadline-oriented, Derham gave herself six months […]
The ‘90s in Asheville were definitely a decade of activism — of all sorts. One of the earliest projects was the revitalization of downtown, which took courageous leadership. The Green Line (precursor of Mountain Xpress) was publishing; Asheville-Buncombe Discovery was promoting downtown; the LGBT community was awakening; the environmental movement was fighting back with protests and demonstrations. I was involved in several of these activities, so know of them first-hand.
Downtown Asheville in the 1990s had a small-town America feel reminiscent of my own rural upbringing. You could count the chain stores on one hand, and quirky, lost-in-time businesses seemingly held dark, mysterious secrets ripped from the pages of a Southern Gothic novel.
In 1994, Asheville was just a weekend place that I escaped to from Greenville, S.C., with my then husband, Blane Sherer. I thought it was just a getaway; I did not know I was looking for something, but I found it: Poetry.
I’d often arrive to open the building and have to step over a homeless man, curled up with his bottle, in the entrance vestibule.
From the level of scrutiny this project received, you’d have thought we were planning a neurosurgery facility instead of just a metal shell on a concrete pad in an industrial zone.
In late 1976, Asheville was quiet and downtown was mostly boarded up. We lived in Swannanoa and I got involved with the folks trying to close the Chemtronics plant. That was the start of my political activism.
A year ago, I happened upon a young father with his wife, two children and in-laws on the sidewalk on the corner at the Haywood Park Hotel. Standing behind them, I heard him share the history of the Flatiron Building. He pointed as he explained and they looked up in fascination.
The Mountain Xpress was born in a decade — the 1990s — that produced major challenges new to Asheville and Buncombe County. First challenge: Two large construction projects — a new jail and landfill — had been neglected because of their cost and unpopularity. Second challenge: A new source of drinking water was needed to […]
After his second record, David Mayfield already had a metaphor for his third: the Indiana Jones trilogy. “I used to say … that my first record was Raiders of the Lost Arc and Good Man Down was Temple of Doom, so my next record will be Last Crusade,” he jokes. “It will be fun and […]
It’s no surprise that downtown Asheville was the birthplace of Mountain Xpress. In the 1990s, downtown was an incubator for alternative media and independent voices. I moved to an office on Battery Park Avenue in the spring of 1991 to launch a nonprofit called Citizens for Media Literacy, thanks to a grant from Julian Price, […]
In the 1980s, Asheville was a sleepy little town with not much going on — parking was free, there weren’t coffee shops on every corner, and few people were to be seen on the streets after dark. Not much going on culturally either, especially when it came to writing.
The early ’90s was an interesting time. So much work had been done in the ’80s, particularly by the city, trying to bring downtown back, but it was still pretty much a ghost town, particularly after 5 o’clock. The buildings on the corner where Malaprop’s and Mobilia are now had stood empty and boarded up for years.
Almost 25 years ago, I rode a Greyhound bus from Jackson, Miss., to Asheville with nothing but two suitcases of clothes and a plastic pink flamingo.
Congratulations on 20 years! It seems Green Line and Mountain Xpress have been a big part of the community far longer. I suspect that comes from my political side, though. I appreciate the opportunity to reminisce about the city and 20 years of memories about the place I love —particularly downtown and West Asheville. A […]
“Amid a shifting social, economic and political landscape, communities of color in Asheville are examining creative and innovative strategies to facilitate community change,” Tracey Dorsett writes in this commentary.
I moved to Asheville in 1973. Here’s some of what I remember: Most of downtown was boarded up.
Haywood Street was virtually empty two decades ago. In 1990, we (the members of Earth Guild) bought the old Bon Marché building. We renovated the Haywood Street level for Earth Guild, which we moved from its original location on Tingle Alley. We made our home on the top floor. In the mid-’90s, the second floor and basement level were renovated into office suites and, in 2002, the basement was redeveloped for the N.C. Stage Company. The building became a model for mixed use in downtown and spurred the redevelopment of many other buildings in its block and on adjacent blocks.
Downtown Asheville was largely boarded up in 1994 but starting to show signs of life. I had purchased my law office building on Church Street eight years earlier and was starting to see a decrease in uninvited overnight guests who “rested” in my parking lot or occasionally on the office front porch. Thankfully, my office staff witnessed fewer instances of drug dealing, and less evidence of prostitution and other criminal activity in the Church Street area by then.
I’ve always thought that the turning point for Asheville, especially downtown, was when the downtown Strouse-Greenberg mall project was voted down in November 1981.
The island’s hot and sunny day might have precluded a larger crowd from gathering for earlier sets — and sedated the folks there all day.