Tuesday History: The Grove Park Inn was “built not for the dead”

FROM THE MOUTH OF GROVE: At the opening ceremony of the Grove Park Inn, E.W. Grove offered the following: “A man is never too old to build castles and dream dreams. Standing here tonight in the midst of my friends and invited guests, I find a dream realized and a castle materialized.”
FROM THE MOUTH OF GROVE: At the opening ceremony of the Grove Park Inn, E.W. Grove offered the following: “A man is never too old to build castles and dream dreams. Standing here tonight in the midst of my friends and invited guests, I find a dream realized and a castle materialized.”

Iron, sugar, lemon flavoring and alcohol were the ingredients used to mask the taste of quinine in Edwin Wiley Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic. The medication didn’t actually cure malaria (it hindered the growth of the malarial parasite, while reducing fever and chill); nevertheless, it became the source of Grove’s wealth.

Bronchitis brought Grove to Asheville, where he built a summer home in 1897. His primary focus, however, remained his St. Louis-based business, Paris Medicine Company, as well as a real estate venture in Atlanta.

Over time, Grove’s interest in Asheville real estate would grow. In 1909, he purchased more than 400 acres of land east of Charlotte Street, in North Asheville. Two years later, Grove took the initial steps that led to the construction of the Grove Park Inn. He sought out sketches from a number of architects, but ultimately went with the design created by his son-in-law, Fred Seely.

The hotel’s groundbreaking ceremonies took place on July 9, 1912. The following year, the Asheville Gazette-News reported the inn’s completion. Titled “Brilliant Scene Marked Opening,”  the July 14, 1913 article reads:

Four hundred and fifty representative men from far and near gathered at Grove Park [I]nn Saturday evening to partake of the inn’s hospitality and to felicitate Mr. Grove, the owner, and his son-in-law, the designer and builder of the world’s finest resort hotel. The opening banquet was a magnificent and thoroughly enjoyed affair. Mr. [William Jennings] Bryan [41st United States Secretary of State] said that “friendship alone brings me here.” He was sorry the governor could not come; he would, according to promise, again visit “your beautiful city” in the fall, and bring Mrs. Bryan with him. He spoke warm words of praise of North Carolina’s son who is secretary of the navy, Mr. [Josephus] Daniels.

BUILT FOR THE AGES: At the opening of the Grove Park Inn, Secretary of State W. H. Bryan offered the following thoughts: “We build temporarily or permanently; if we live for pleasure we build for a day; but if we have the trust and highest conception of what we put into this world, measure up to our responsibilities, we build for the ages.” Photo courtesy of North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina

“My chief thought tonight,” said [Bryan], “is building for the Ages. I have never seen any structure to equal this; I have looked through it and marveled at the the triumph of the builder’s art, and as I gazed the thought impressed me that these men are not building for this generation or century, but for the age. It will stand forever. Why should not this hotel stand for all time, for it has none of the elements of decay: it will be here an eloquent monument to its founders in the centuries to come. It was built not for the dead, as were the tombs of kings, but for living human beings that they might find delight here. The sentiment of the present age is to build for others, not for themselves. Today we stand in this wonderful hotel, not built for a few, but for the multitudes that will come and go. Is it not better to build such a monument than a tomb? I congratulate these men. They have built for the ages. … The thought that I would leave with you tonight is that just as these men have built for the ages, so are we building in our daily lives. We build temporarily or permanently; if we live for pleasure we build for a day; but if we have the trust and highest conception of what we put into this world, measure up to our responsibilities, we build for the ages. The characteristics of the heart are greater than the characteristics of the mind or brain. Let us not be discouraged that we have no part in this; let us not be envious that we can claim none of the credit for such wonderful achievement. The characteristic of the hearts of the founders of this structure have touched the people about them and their names will live in the love and esteem of mankind when they are no more.”

Mr. Grove’s Remarks

… E.W. Grove, the first speaker, said: “A man is never too old to build castles and dream dreams. Standing here tonight in the midst of my friends and invited guests, I find a dream realized and a castle materialized.

“After a long mountain walk one evening, at the sunset hour, scarcely more than a year ago, I sat down here to rest, and while almost entranced by the panorama of these encircling mountains and a restful outlook upon green fields, the dreams of an old-time inn came to me — an inn whose exterior, and interior as well, should present a home-like and wholesome simplicity, whose hospitable doors should ever be open wide, inviting the traveler to rest awhile, shut in from the busy world outside.

“It affords me far more gratification than I can express in having in my immediate family an architect and builder who, by his artistic conception, by his untiring zeal, has studied out the very minutest details, making my dream a reality indeed and accomplishing what in so short a time, seems almost beyond human endurance.”

The article concludes with remarks made by Asheville’s Mayor James Eugene Rankin, who called the opening of the Grove Park Inn “an epoch in the modern history of the ‘Land of the Sky.'”

 

 

SHARE
About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

2 thoughts on “Tuesday History: The Grove Park Inn was “built not for the dead”

  1. Deplorable Infidel

    Did Grove get city council mandated, taxpayer stolen ‘incentives’ or freebies to build the GPI ?

    • Lulz

      No, but then again he wasn’t crowing about the poor on one end and have his nose in the rear end of the rich OUT OF TOWN developers on the other.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.