The Blue Ridge Hospital opened in September 1922. At the time, it was Asheville’s only medical facility for Black residents. In addition to treating the injured and sick, the site also operated a nurse training program for African American women.
During the onset of the Great Depression, the city of Asheville authorized the formation of the Unemployment Council. The committee’s first project was the community wood yard, which employed 140 workers. Instead of a paycheck, all participants received groceries, clothing and wood.
In September, the Buncombe County Remembrance Project opened a charitable fund at The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina with the goal of raising $80,000 over the next six months. Among other things, the money will support online educational programs about racial justice and the region’s history of racial terror.
In the winter of 1967, over 30 residents joined in a rent strike at Hillcrest Apartments. The movement lasted far longer than expected and soon spread across the city’s two other public housing projects.
The Rev. Brent La Prince Edwards says that with gatherings now happening virtually, the COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity for his church to embark on a $571,000 renovation project without displacing worship services and other events.
Local historians have teamed up to commemorate the hundreds of lives lost during the construction of the Western North Carolina Railroad in the late 1870s.
In 1951, during segregation, the Asheville Housing Authority launched Lee-Walker Heights, the city’s first low-rent housing project built for African American residents. The city’s second, all-white housing project, Pisgah View Apartments, opened in West Asheville the following year.
On March 15, 1930, the Biltmore Estate opened to visitors. Despite the nation’s economic hardships, the new tourist attraction registered 39,052 guests between its launch and June 30, 1931.
“In Pisgah [National Forest] or the Smokies, it’s very difficult to know exactly who owned the land before it became public. With DuPont, it’s not,” explains author Danny Bernstein. “You can trace all of the land to somebody who sold it or gave it away to the state.”
On April 3, 1942, Axis diplomats were interned at Grove Park Inn. The 221 prisoners of war were the first in a series of detainees confined to the resort that year.
In 1926, North Carolina and Tennessee needed to raise $1 million as part of a federal prerequisite for the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As the deadline approached, the outlook did not look promising for the Tar Heel State.
On Feb. 21, 1916, dishes rattled in the homes of Asheville residents, as the city experienced a 5.5 magnitude earthquake.
In 1932, the Normal Business Council was created with a single mission in mind: to infuse $100,000 into the local Asheville economy.
With concerns over a new voting law, an agricultural recession and ongoing exploitation through the state’s crop lien system, roughly 50,000 African Americans left North Carolina between 1889-90.
Between 1930-70, some local churches joined in participation of the annual “Race Relations Sunday” sermon held each February.
In 1906, illiteracy among white North Carolina children totaled 45,000. This, combined with a growing fear of an educated Black population, led local residents to push for compulsory education laws.
In the early months of 1964, residents shared their thoughts on the impending civil rights bill. Most who offered their opinions expressed a dire message of inevitable chaos if the measure were to become law.
The route through the Swannanoa Gap — where present-day Old U.S. 70 and Mill Creek Road intersect — was first carved out by Archaic Indians as they came up out of the Appalachian foothills and followed Swannanoa Creek on the way to hunting and gathering opportunities in the mountains. Later, Buncombe County’s first white settlers climbed through the gap as they moved into the area. Historian Dan Pierce shares the gap’s history and culture, as well as suggestions for exploration.
Vance, Patton, Woodfin, Henderson, Weaver, Chunn, Baird — their names are familiar to anyone living in Asheville and Buncombe County today. All were wealthy and influential civic leaders. They were also major slaveholders or slave traders and white supremacists.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners remained divided along partisan lines. Chair Brownie Newman and his three Democratic colleagues voted for the removal of Confederate monuments at Pack Square Park and the county courthouse, as well as establishing a task force on the Vance Monument, while Republicans Joe Belcher, Anthony Penland and Robert Pressley voted against those moves.
Originally celebrated almost solely within the African American community, interest in the observance of the end of the institution of slavery in the United States is on the rise, with two events planned in Asheville for June 19.