In 1960, a group of student activists at Asheville’s all-black Stephens-Lee High School courageously challenged the racial status quo, bringing the civil rights movement closer to home. Through public demonstrations, boycotts and engagements with city officials, the members of the Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality helped break down Jim Crow-era barriers. For the past […]
I moved from metro D.C. to Buncombe County in 1976 as a “back-to-the-land flower child,” aspiring to off-the-grid homesteading along with my neighbors in Sandy Mush and Spring Creek. At first, my partner and I lived with the Gallimores at the eco-pioneering Long Branch Land Trust. But due to economic necessities, not to mention impending […]
A 76-year-old structure is bound to have stories to tell.
For most people, their sense of “history” begins when they arrive somewhere. So, here is my history of the French Broad River and what has evolved along it since 1986, when I started working for RiverLink When I arrived in Asheville, I didn’t even know there was a river. The downtown was dead and scary, […]
Mountain Microenterprise Fund began in 1989 as a small demonstration project to a shortage of financing for small businesses, particularly those owned by women and minorities. MMF started out as part of Warren Wilson College’s Black Swan Center, which some may remember for its “Green Pages” directory of small businesses in Swannanoa/Black Mountain (the area’s […]
I was scrounging for a master’s in history from Western Carolina and buying beer at Cullowhee’s Speedwell General Store when there it was on the checkout counter: Green Line … a newspaper that, a few years later, became Mountain Xpress. Finally, here was a paper based on the environmental principles of the Green Party! It […]
I moved to Asheville — well, technically, Black Mountain — in the winter of ’83. It was pretty rough. The night I moved into my little no-insulation cottage, temps plunged to minus 50 with the wind chill. The pipes froze, the toilet cracked, and I tried in vain to stuff newspaper in places where the […]
Thank you for allowing me to share a bit of true Asheville history, at least my recollections of the origins of Asheville’s drumming and how the Pritchard Park drum circle came about. I was born and raised in Asheville. I was taught percussion at South French Broad Middle School. My love for percussion instruments has […]
When Council discussed ideas for renovating Pritchard Park downtown AT A DATE WORKSESSION, then-Mayor Russ Martin suggested using a 1940s trolley as a central piece to the park
I moved to Asheville in 1996 from Santa Barbara, Calif. We had a great drum circle community out there. Every Sunday at a park, down by the beach, from early afternoon until late in the night, we would gather and drum and dance and enjoy all the beauty there. I really missed the circle when […]
Remember when Stone Soup was the happening place to be seen eating lunch and the Gilberts greeted you with a smile every day with their homemade bread and soups? Remember when Wall Street was deserted (no foot traffic)? Self -Help Credit Union, with the help of Julian Price (and other donors) helped to rehab the […]
Moving from a wasteland of vacant, dirty streets, partial demolitions, lifeless buildings, and adult bookstores and theaters to the “top 10” lists in just about every category is truly a miracle. But we did it.
Does anyone remember the early 1990s in Asheville, a time when Bill Clinton was president, Jim Hunt the governor of North Carolina, and there wasn’t a parking or traffic problem at all? Mountain Xpress wouldn’t come into being until 1994, the year before Gannett Co. bought out the Asheville Citizen-Times. Fine cuisine? Mark Rosenstein had […]
For well over a century, Asheville has attracted creative people. So, whatever good deeds have been done in the recent past should be seen as growing out of the incredible mountains around us and as gifts from prior generations, the Cherokees and hard-scrabble Southern Appalachian settlers and Asheville’s new urbanists from the mid-19th century onward. […]
Ask anyone who’s lived or worked in Asheville since the ’80s or ’90s, and you’re likely to get a different answer. We offer some responses in this week’s retrospective, such as: • We faced key challenges from within local government. • We fought city hall. • We protected the environment. • We stood up for […]
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.
Downtown Asheville in the 1990s had a small-town America feel reminiscent of my own rural upbringing. You could count the chain stores on one hand, and quirky, lost-in-time businesses seemingly held dark, mysterious secrets ripped from the pages of a Southern Gothic novel.
In 1994, Asheville was just a weekend place that I escaped to from Greenville, S.C., with my then husband, Blane Sherer. I thought it was just a getaway; I did not know I was looking for something, but I found it: Poetry.
I’d often arrive to open the building and have to step over a homeless man, curled up with his bottle, in the entrance vestibule.
In late 1976, Asheville was quiet and downtown was mostly boarded up. We lived in Swannanoa and I got involved with the folks trying to close the Chemtronics plant. That was the start of my political activism.
A year ago, I happened upon a young father with his wife, two children and in-laws on the sidewalk on the corner at the Haywood Park Hotel. Standing behind them, I heard him share the history of the Flatiron Building. He pointed as he explained and they looked up in fascination.