DIRECT SHOT: Filmmaker Erin Derham, right, interviews musician Andrew Fletcher, left, at 5 Walnut Wine Bar. He often performs there, and on the sidewalk, pushing his piano on a dolly to his location. Also pictured: Director of photography Shane Peters and audio mixer Adam Johnson. Photo by Paul Clark

Local documentary “Buskin’ Blues” premieres

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 […]

PEOPLE POWER: So many people showed up to hear about (and say something about) Asheville's first proposed nondiscrimination ordinance in 1994 that City Council's meeting was moved to the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. Ron Lambe's in the front row, center, wearing a brown suit and a tie. (Photo courtesy of former Asheville Mayor Leni Sitnick)

Making a difference: a decade of activism

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.

YESTERDAY'S LANDFILL: In the 1990s, Asheville and Buncombe County faced many challenges, such as where to locate a new landfill. (pictured above, the old landfill). (file photo)

The challenges we faced in the ’90s

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 […]

BOARDED UP: In this 1980s view from the Vance Monument, the buildings around Pack Square were boarded up and vacant. (Photo courtesy of Karen Tessier)

Growing up in Asheville

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 […]

GUILDED: Until its 1990s renovation, the Earth Guild building (once home to the department store Bon Marché) was shuttered and covered (2014 photo by Hayley Benton; older photo courtesy of Karen Tessier)

Getting from then to now

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.

THEN: Long-vacant  buildings were the norm when David Gantt set up his law office in Asheville. Photo courtesy of Public Interest Projects

The view from the county commission

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.