Asheville Archives: The Asheville Club moves to Haywood Street, 1901

AT THE CLUB: Built in 1901 by Richard Sharp Smith, today's Miles Building began as the gathering place for the all-male Asheville Club. Renovations would be made in the 1920s.   Photo courtesy of North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina
AT THE CLUB: Built in 1901 by Richard Sharp Smith, today's Miles Building began as the gathering place for the all-male Asheville Club. Renovations would be made in the 1920s. Photo courtesy of North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina

Wigs, toys and apparel are among the items sold inside the street-level shops that occupy today’s Miles Building. For over 20 years, Xpress has called it home, as well. But the property, located on the corner of Haywood and College streets, was originally constructed in 1901 as the Asheville Club’s headquarters — an all-male, nonpolitical organization. Founded in 1881, the group “filled a particular sphere of usefulness,” writes James H. Caine, in a 1938 Sunday edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times. “It was, perhaps, distinguished by the fact that it minded its own business, which was of a strictly social nature.”

On Wednesday, Oct. 23, 1901, The Asheville Citizen offered readers a detailed description of the nearly completed property. Set to open within a few days of the article’s publication, the newspaper reported:

“Two wide chimneys flank either side of the building giving a suggestion of unlimited comfort. … In the front, six big pillars of painted wood are planted on the brick forming the sidewalk and support a roofless porch of comfortable size and convenient outlook.

On the north side of the building the unique rustic fence with stone pillars gives an odd, artistic effect. The porch in the rear of the building is conveniently arranged to accommodate those driving to the club as the roadway to Battery Park passes directly level with it.

Passing beneath the portico on the front of the building, the visitor to the club finds himself confronted with three entrances. Each is of about the same dimension and is painted in cream as is the other exterior woodwork.

The central entrance leads into a vestibule where doors of quartered oak with hinges and plates of bronze swing open into the hallway with wide stairs of quartered oak leading up to the club quarters.

Ascending the steps which will be richly carpeted, the visitor arrives in a long hall extending from the back entrance to three-quarters the length of the building where an oak door with the upper half of ground glass admits one to the reading or sitting room.

… West of the reading room separated only by portieres is a writing room.

To the south through the sliding doors is the entrance to the billiard room, an apartment of almost as generous dimensions as the reading room. Here electricity for half a dozen lights will be brought from the ceiling in bronze tubes. The color scheme of the walls is the same as the one opposite.

FACELIFT: In 1919, Herbert Delahaye Miles purchased the present-day Miles Building from the Coxe estate. He would renovate and transform both its interior and exterior, changing the former clubhouse into office spaces. Top photo courtesy of North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina; bottom photo by Thomas Calder
FACELIFT: In 1919, Herbert Delahaye Miles purchased the present-day Miles Building from the Coxe estate. He would renovate and transform both its interior and exterior, changing the former clubhouse into office spaces. Top photo courtesy of North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina; bottom photo by Thomas Calder

On the third floor are six bedrooms and two baths. The bedrooms are finished in varnished pine and … will be occupied by members of the club.

The first floor of the club building will be occupied by physicians’ offices, Dr. Battle having the rooms to the north and Dr. Minor occupying those fronting Government street.

Each physician will have a suite of four rooms, the large ones in the front with handsome windows as reception rooms, with consultation and operating rooms and laboratories in the rear.

The house is lighted with electricity and heated by steam and in coziness arrangement and good taste in furnishing the comfort of the club is assured.”

The Asheville Club occupied the building until 1915. The organization would relocate to a number of new and old buildings throughout its final years. In his 1938 Asheville Citizen-Times article, Caine offered a brief history of the organization’s nomadic conclusion. “[L]ike some uneasy spirit the members move yet again to an old residence on Biltmore Avenue, only 100 yards or so from the club’s birthplace. Still more moves and the club is back up town and the years are fleeting and times are changing. Members sense the beginning of the end and it finally comes in the old technical building. There in 1934, the light of the Asheville Club, rich in traditions and memories, after a few, feeble flickers went out — forever.”

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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.

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