Asheville's first horse-drawn fire hose carriage was purchased in May 1887.  The first hose company was formed in 1884, after the first city water lines were installed.  With 1,500 feet of hose, firemen were usually worn out by the time they reached the scene.  By 1888, there were three hose carts and 40 volunteers. Asheville Fire Department photo,  reprinted by permission from "Firefighting in Buncombe County" by Brian Lawrence. Available by publisher online at arcadiapublishing.com or  by calling 888-313-2665.

Book looks at history of ‘Firefighting in Buncombe County’

Firefighting has played a big role in Brian Lawrence’s life. His father was a firefighter and he grew up around the firehouse outside Decatur, Illinois. His fascination with firefighting followed him through his teen years, through college and into his current role as an engineer with the Asheville Fire Department. Lawrence’s keen interest in history complements […]

Illustration courtesy of Joshua Warren

Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise start-up capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. Each week, Xpress highlights notable WNC crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd. STEVE SHELL POETRY Steve Shell, […]

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Smart bets: Barbara J. Taylor

Barbara J. Taylor’s debut novel, Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night, is “an evocative story of family tragedy and healing set in coal-mining Scranton, Pennsylvania.” As a native and current resident of the Electric City, where the story is set, Taylor draws inspiration from a haunting family story to blend real-life incidents with historical […]

Allan Wolf at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Southern Fried Poetry Slam. Photo from Wolf's Facebook page.

Poetic injustice: Locals respond to N.C.’s poet laureate debate

Poetry has long been an action-packed artistic genre in Western North Carolina. Here, it’s not merely written but spoken, slammed and taken into schools (thanks to Poetry Alive! — which celebrates its 30th anniversary with an event at The White Horse on Aug. 15 — and LEAF in Schools & Streets, among other initiatives). In […]

FAMILY-FRIENDLY: Even though Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is based on the West Coast, he plans to continue collaborating with Asheville artists. “We have a shared history, and I love the flavor,” he says. "That’s the staple of my whole thing, a mutated genre thing." Photo courtesy of the musician

Weirdos R Us: 23 Skidoo celebrates the Year of the Weird with a book and album launch

In the Chinese zodiac, 2014 is the Year of the Horse. For the United Nations, it’s the Year of Family Farming and Crystallography. And, as designated by Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, it’s the Year of the Salamander. No stranger to celebrating diversity and creative thinking for all ages, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo honors […]

STORIFY: Asheville resident and first-generation Cuban-American Althea Gonzalez will tell stories as part of Latino Day, the July 5 program in this year's Stories on Asheville's Front Porch series. Photo by Rodney Smith of Tempus Fugit Design

Tell it like it is: Stories on Asheville’s Front Porch series spotlights diversity

Before coming to Asheville, Sarah Larson, the founder/director of the Stories on Asheville’s Front Porch series, taught storytelling to high school students through a required course in genealogy. She encouraged her students to research their ancestors’ cultures, Larson says, “and then they had to learn a story from that culture.” Larson brought her passion for […]

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UPDATE: Verve Magazine will cease publication with June issue

Verve Magazine, the local, monthly publication devoted to “covering Asheville’s most fascinating women,” will cease publication with its June issue, Publisher Rimas Zailskas confirmed June 26. Launched in May 2008, Verve dished up lively features accompanied by striking photos. “So even though it is a little sad, it is an opportunity as well,” Zailskas said, […]

GROWING PAINS: “I’m aware of what a rare treasure it is to not have to go to a publisher and defend the idea of writing a 500-page novel about a spinster who studies moss,” says Elizabeth Gilbert, author of best-selling memoir Eat, Pray, Love. Her new novel is her first work of fiction in more than a decade.

The constant gardener: Author Elizabeth Gilbert returns to Asheville with a work of period fiction

The Signature of All Things, the most recent book by Elizabeth Gilbert, begins in the 1700s and sweeps through much of the 19th century. Spanning Europe, Tahiti and pre-Civil War Pennsylvania, it frames several generations of the Whittaker family in the context of botanical exploration. But the ambitious novel, now out in paperback, had an […]

BET Henry Niese

Smart Bets: Henry Niese

American contemporary art pioneer Henry Niese has work in the Whitney Museum and The Corcoran Gallery. His friends include Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and William Carlos Williams. Niese has also immersed himself in the Lakota Sioux culture and its Sundance tradition. That ceremony takes place over four days and involves fasting, personal sacrifice and, […]