Photo: Grove Park Inn, ca. 1913, Macon Avenue, Asheville, NC. Philip H. Krugler, photographer; copyright © 2013. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
The Grove Park Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]
The Grove Park neighborhood of Asheville, designed and developed by St. Louis entrepreneur Edwin Wiley Grove with the help of Chauncey Beadle, Olmsted employee, nurseryman and later Superintendent of the Biltmore Estate, is an excellent intact example of early twentieth century planned suburban residential development, featuring a wide array of revival and eclectic domestic architecture in an appropriately landscaped setting. Although Grove Park took advantage of a street car line running between the two sections of the development, the neighborhood was planned around the "motorcar." The first lots were sold in 1908 in an area of curvilinear streets, parks and naturalistic landscaping. Unlike many early twentieth century suburbs of the state, Grove Park retains picturesque settings, diverse house types and social and economic homogeneity, and today remains one of Asheville's most sought-after residential areas.
The Grove Park Historic District is a local example of the nationwide movement of middle and upper class homeowners away from the central city to the ideal environment of the suburb. Grove Park was developed for the civic leaders of the period who directed and participated in the tremendous growth of Asheville during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Grove Park is eligible for the National Register in terms of community planning and development because it is an early and intact example of planned suburban residential development in which plan, landscaping and architecture were combined to provide a feeling of identity and character. Also, the neighborhood is significant in terms of landscape architecture. The Grove Park plan was the first in Asheville to abandon the grid plan of street layout and to provide curvilinear streets, parks, and trees in a naturalistic setting as advocated by the Olmsted Brothers and their Biltmore Estate associate, Chauncey Beadle. Beadle's plan pre-dates the Olmsted plan for Dilworth [see Dilworth Historic District] in Charlotte, North Carolina by three years. In terms of architecture, Grove Park Historic District is significant for its collection of detached single-family houses which represent the prevailing design principles and construction practices of early twentieth century domestic suburban architecture as well as the design principles prevailing in Asheville at the time. Excellent examples of period styles such as Georgian Revival, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Bungalow-Craftsman, Shingle, and Prairie, and eclectic styles are all present in the Grove Park Historic District. Local architects represented include Richard Sharp Smith, Ronald Greene, Henry I. Gaines, William N. Dodge, Jr., and others. James Gamble Rogers, nationally known architect, is represented also.
Community Planning and Development
The Grove Park neighborhood of Asheville was the vision of Edwin Wiley Grove, pharmaceutical magnate from St. Louis, and is North Carolina's first suburban residential neighborhood systematically and professionally planned to be independent of the streetcar. Like North Carolina cities of the Piedmont — Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte. Asheville developed two streetcar suburbs before 1903, but Grove Park, planned in 1908 with the professional help of Chauncey Beadle, an employee of Frederick Law Olmsted and the Olmsted Brothers, was designed for residents of Asheville who could afford to use the automobile for work and social life. [see: Early Automobile Suburbs, 1908 to 1945]
Edwin Wiley Grove was born in Hardeman County, in central Tennessee, in 1850. He became a clerk in a pharmacy in Paris, Tennessee, and at 22, purchased his own drug store there. Quite by accident he developed a method of suspending quinine, allowing quinine to be manufactured as a liquid and made tasteless. Grove and his son-in-law, Fred Seely, established the Paris Medicine Company to manufacture "Bromo-Quinine" elixir, and by 1891 annual sales totaled more than a half-million dollars.
Grove was an active developer in St. Louis, where he maintained his residence and which was the central location of the Paris Medicine Company, reorganized as Grove Laboratories, and in Atlanta, St. Petersburg, and eastern Tennessee as well as in North Carolina. Two neighborhoods in Atlanta bear Grove's mark, and are described here for comparison to his work in Asheville. Atkins Park, platted in 1912 and 1913, is situated on Ponce de Leon Avenue immediately to the west of the Druid Hills neighborhood, which was planned by Olmsted in 1905. Atkins Park includes detached single-family houses, informally landscaped yards, stone walls and entrance pillars, and tree-lined streets. In west Atlanta, on either side of Bankhead Highway, are the remnants of a second Grove development, recognizable today only by the street names, featuring members of the Grove family, and a central green space known as "Grove Park."
Grove arrived in Asheville in 1897 as a tourist and was at once impressed with the scenery, climate and bountiful resources of western North Carolina. He joined in Asheville two other well-known "tourists" who had become enchanted with the region also, George W. Vanderbilt and Frank Coxe. These men symbolized the business mentality of Victorian America. They came with ready money made elsewhere, flaunting large bank accounts and imbued with strong desires to increase the economic value of western North Carolina by building mansions, hotels, business complexes and residential developments. In Buncombe County, North Carolina, Grove developed the Grove Park residential section, the Grove Park Inn, a quarry and the Grove Sand and Gravel Company. He acquired the Manor Inn and the Battery Park Hotel from which he constructed the "new" Battery Park Hotel in 1926, and developed the Grove Arcade, also in 1926. The commercial area of Asheville along Coxe Avenue, Battery Park Avenue, and Haywood Street, a tribute to Grove's boundless energy and enthusiasm, expanded Asheville's economy during the "boom" years of the 1920s. In 1924, using ideas from some of the nation's outstanding city planners, he developed a model town, Grovemont-in-Swannanoa, east of Asheville.
Unlike most of the developers of other North Carolina suburbs across the state of North Carolina, Edwin W. Grove was not a native and, in fact, lived only part of each year in Asheville. He had no interest in street railways or utility companies; his interest in Asheville was "to adorn and beautify western North Carolina." He played at speculation, city planning and landscaping, and his interests coincided with the spirit of the times and with the interests of Ashevillians before 1930. Fortunately for Asheville, Grove's interest in city planning helped Asheville adjust with taste and elegance to the increasing demand for new housing. His suburban developments have provided for Asheville a heritage of trees, vistas, streetscapes and urban parks enjoyed today, and his energy and financial strength a groundwork for the diverse and well-situated housing stock apparent in Grove Park and in the Kimberly and Grove Park additions.
Grove died in Asheville in 1927 and is buried in St. Louis. He left an estate worth $10,000,000, including a vast amount of real estate in Asheville, his pharmaceutical company in St. Louis, property there, two residential subdivisions in St. Petersburg, Florida, and property in Atlanta, St. Louis and St. Petersburg: Atkins Park, in Atlanta, and his developments in downtown Asheville have been listed on the National Register.
Grove Park Historic District is significant as an excellent intact example of an early twentieth century planned suburban residential development, representing local and national trends in suburban development of the period. These early developments were characterized by picturesque naturalistic setting, diverse house styles and plans, modern amenities, social and economic homogeneity, and distance between home and work. Across North Carolina, other cities were opening suburban developments served by streetcar lines, following the example set in Asheville by the opening of the Montford residential neighborhood [see Montford Area Historic District] in 1889. Streetcar suburbs were inaugurated in Raleigh, Charlotte and Winston-Salem before 1900. In platting his Grove Park properties, Grove had the professional help of Chauncey Delos Beadle, who in 1890 moved to Asheville to work with Frederick Law Olmsted and his sons on the design and planting of the Biltmore Estate. Beadle later became superintendent and treasurer of the Biltmore Estate and "was both distinguished and beloved (for) sixty years." In the Olmsted tradition, Beadle laid out Grove Park on each side of Charlotte Street with rows of trees, parks, a divided street (Sunset Parkway), pocket parks, and an elaborate entrance park with stone gatehouses and a fountain. Lots were large and separated frequently by service alleys. Streets were curvilinear and naturalistic settings were emphasized. Deed restrictions governed land use, house size, property values, and setback lines, and assured homogeneity among the property owners. Most property owners were of the professional class and all were Caucasian. A roster plan, carefully followed, contributed to Grove Park's distinctive character and appearance, which are today still evident in the Grove Park Historic District.
The Chauncey Beadle plan for Grove Park precedes the Olmsted Brothers plan for the extension of Dilworth in Charlotte, designed in 1911, by three years. In Asheville it was followed by developments in Kenilworth, Beaver Lake and Biltmore Forest, all of which used naturalistic settings and curvilinear streets, and all of which depended upon the automobile for access and convenience. Grove Park, adjacent to a street railway but built for the "motorcar," spans two concepts of community development in Asheville.
Grove Park Historic District is significant for its collection of detached single-family houses, representing the prevailing design principles and construction practices of early twentieth century domestic suburban architecture. Together the houses provide a memory bank of architectural design in Asheville between 1908 and 1938, illustrating a number of architectural styles such as Georgian Revival, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Bungalow, Shingle, and Prairie, both high style and vernacular. Because of deed restrictions concerning setback and building costs, they relate well to each other in terms of size, massing, siting and materials, and maintain a high degree of integrity.
At least eight homes in Grove Park were designed by Richard Sharp Smith, whose influence on architectural design in Asheville continues to this day. The Biltmore House drew Smith to Asheville as supervising architect under
Local architects represented in Grove Park, in addition to Richard Sharp Smith, include William N. Dodge, Jr. native of Washington, D.C., and a graduate of Princeton and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (29 Ridgewood Place), and Ronald Greene, of Coldwater, Michigan, who came to Asheville in 1916 and designed the Louie Mueller Griffith House at 65 Woodland Road. Greene also designed the Longchamps Apartments on Macon Avenue in Asheville, and the Jackson Building in downtown Asheville. Henry I. Gaines, arriving from Greenville, South Carolina, designed a house for Edgar Fordtran in 1936 (50 Glendale Road). Nationally known architect James Gamble Rogers designed a house at 1 Evelyn Place for Reuben Robertson about 1922. Rogers, (1867-1947), completed his formal training at the Ecole Des Beaux Arts. He designed several residential colleges at Yale University, the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and the Butler Library at Columbia University.
The E.A. Jackson Realty Company was responsible for the construction of a number of houses in Grove Park before 1930, including the S.S. Beatty House (317 Charlotte Street), the Frank Brown House (47 Macon Avenue) and three houses on Celia Place (1 Celia Place; 3 Celia Place, W.J. Jackson House; 5 Celia Place, E.G. Miles House). J.D. Jackson, a partner in the firm, constructed western North Carolina's first skyscraper: the Jackson Building, on Pack Square in 1924. The construction firm of W.H. Westall, founded by builder and contractor J.M. Westall before the turn of the century, constructed at least two houses in Grove Park Historic District for officers of the firm at 48 Sunset Parkway (Charles V. Westall House), and 14 Ridgewood Place (Henry Westall House).
The construction of the Biltmore Estate by George W. Vanderbilt in 1895 had a profound impact on the growing city of Asheville, most noticeably in the field of landscape design. Frederick Law Olmsted, master of naturalistic landscaping, "father" of the profession of landscape architecture, and the leader of the American-parks movement in the mid-19th century, laid out park, farm, and forest for Vanderbilt. The approach to the mansion itself wound for three miles through a deliberately controlled landscape, along ravines instead of ridges, creating a deep natural forest with pools, springs, and streams. In the city of Asheville, where residential design followed the historic grid pattern, Edwin Wiley Grove determined to imitate the Biltmore landscape plan, choosing as his professional designer Chauncey D. Beadle, head nurseryman of the Biltmore Estate.
Chauncey Beadle had studied at the Ontario Agricultural College and at Cornell University before arriving in Asheville in 1890 in the employ of Frederick Law Olmsted and the Olmsted Brothers. Beadle's "...encyclopedic 'tree-sharpness' was a source of wonder and admiration to Olmsted," and he became chief nurseryman for Olmsted Brothers and later superintendent and treasurer of the Biltmore Estate. In 1908 he began to design the landscape for Grove's recently acquired development property on the west side of Charlotte Street. The Asheville Citizen, December 15, 1908, describes the new venture: "For three months, Mr. Beadle of the Biltmore nurseries has been at work designing and creating parks and streets in the original tract, whose main entrance with its fountains and cemented pools, grass tracts and trees, attracts attention from all passersby, and later will come the improvement of the Deake tract, the laying out of wide drives, cement walks and miniature parks, similar to those of the first tract improved."
Following the topography of the Grove Park neighborhood, Beadle laid out curvilinear streets and large lots, to avoid "...the likelihood of poor purchasers." His extensive use of trees and open spaces and the use of stone in retaining walls and in the stone gate and bench structures at the entrance to the development were characteristic of the Olmsteds, who encouraged the concept of romantic planning and naturalistic landscaping. Generous setbacks and ample plantings further increased the appearance of a "sylvan park." As would follow in the Dilworth plan introduced into that Charlotte suburb by the Olmsted Brothers in 1911 and John Nolen's plan for Myers Park [see Myers Park Historic District], Charlotte, also 1911, Beadle planned curving, tree-shaded streets and several parks, one large park at the entrance to Grove Park west of Charlotte Street, a small park at the junction of Gertrude Place and Edwin Place, and, after 1914, a park between Woodland Road and the head of Sunset Parkway on the east side of Charlotte Street. Sunset Parkway, opened in 1914, was designed with a wide tree-lined park separating a double parkway.
The Kenilworth Development Company, founded in 1912 by J.M. Chiles (who had purchased the second lot in Grove Park in 1908) laid out a residential park in Asheville on property crossed by ravines, using the Grove Park example of curvilinear streets. About 1918, Chauncey Beadle assisted with the planning of the Biltmore Forest residential neighborhood on land which had originally been a part of the Vanderbilt estate. It, too, featured the curvilinear streets, large lots, and naturalistic landscaping favored by the Olmsteds.
North Carolina's urban development has been well documented in the Piedmont cities of Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro and Winston-Salem. The mountain city of Asheville began its progress toward urbanization at the same time as the cities of the Piedmont, building on commercial and industrial development fostered by the railroad, tobacco and tourism, and keeping pace with sister cities of North Carolina in the growth of urban amenities.
The advent of the first train into Asheville on October 3, 1880 signaled the beginning of a period of "dizzying growth" for the city. In November, 1883, the State Chronicle in Raleigh wrote: "In the rapidity of growth Asheville is far ahead of any other place in the state. Within the last year its store-room capacity has been doubled. Since the middle of June there have been erected seventeen handsome brick stores and all command a high rent from the day they are completed. Large tobacco factories, city residences, and buildings of every kind are going up in equal rapidity. The number of inhabitants today is between 4,000 and 5,000."
Between 1880 and 1910 the population of Asheville grew from 2,616 to 18,762 residents. Municipal improvements abounded. In 1889 the first electric streetcar system was inaugurated and a city sewer system constructed. By 1890 Asheville had a Board of Trade organization, a telephone service, an electric power plant, a city board of health, paved streets and sidewalks, and 22 manufacturing businesses employing 1,415 people. In 1890 businesses and industries in the city included 47 hotels and rooming houses, 32 churches and societies, 3 tobacco factories, 18 lumber yards, and a wide mixture of shoe factories, foundries, ice factory, flour mill, cigar factory, furniture factory and a broom factory. To further boost the city's economy, an estimated 30,000 "summer people" descended upon Asheville annually between May and September.
By 1883 the boundaries of the city had been pushed to the edge of the"Kimberly lands," north of the city. The resident elite lived on Biltmore Avenue, South Main Street, and Merrimon Avenue, along streets developed from early trails. The Chestnut Hill neighborhood [see Chestnut Hill Historic District] was opened for residential development on the northeast fringe of the downtown and streets were laid out in a grid pattern there in the 1880's.
The first street railway company in Asheville was formed early in 1889 and had a significant effect upon the future development of the residential areas of the city. This early system provided an electric car line from the public square to a terminus at the end of Charlotte Street, on the northern boundary of the city. There a steam engine pulled cars to the top of Sunset Mountain, where Richard S. Howland built a music hall and pavilion called "Overlook Park." The steam engine and electric car system provided rapid and easy transit to and from the park, and a "wooded ride through the suburbs." There the "weary businessman" and his family would have the opportunity "to round up the day in the sweet atmosphere of the mountain's breath and away from the scent and sight of business care and its daily grind for dollars." By 1898 the Board of Trade could boast that street railways provided access to most of Asheville: "One line runs to Bingham Heights, another runs to Biltmore and the railway station, another to the station, Lookout Park and Sunset Mountain." Real estate developers were not slow to take advantage of the suburban lands made accessible to the downtown by the new mode of transportation. About 1890 a car line was extended to the village of Montford, north of the Battery Park, and residential development was begun there by the Asheville Loan, Construction and Improvement Company, chartered in 1889. Montford Avenue became the "most fashionable street in town," and was home to middle class business people who carried on the daily activities of the city — businessmen, lawyers, retired people, doctors, architects. Among the professional people was a mixture of working class citizens, both black and white.
In 1898 the Swannanoa Hunt Club leased 100 acres of land from George W. Pack at the end of the Charlotte Street street railway line, and in 1899 the club opened a nine-hole golf course. The golf course stretched up the lower slopes of Sunset Mountain bordering the city limits. (This course is still in use as part of the Grove Park Inn property). Just next to the golf club property the Proximity Park Company, whose president was Dr. Carl Reynolds, platted six lots in 1903 and 80 lots in 1907, creating Asheville's second residential park to be served by a street railway, of which Dr. Reynolds was also an officer.
Into the frantic activity of the last two decades of the 19th century arrived three men destined to influence the growth of Asheville for a full century. Franklin Coxe, a part owner of the Western North Carolina Railway which opened Asheville to the east in 1880, built the Battery Park Hotel in 1886. The symbol of Victorian elegance and social life, the Battery Park dominated Asheville for more than 30 years, becoming a tourist mecca for the entire southeast. George W. Vanderbilt, of New York, visited Asheville in 1887 and resolved to build in western North Carolina the "greatest castle in America." Vanderbilt chose as architect
Edwin Wiley Grove, of St. Louis, whose real estate ventures were to change the face of Asheville, arrived in 1897 in the midst of the city's tremendous development period. His energy and imagination fitted him for his role as entrepreneur and developer and his immense income allowed him to make his dreams for Asheville come true. He was impressed with the grandeur of the mountains and with the "unrealised possibility of making Asheville into a resort city on a scale more colossal than any native had contemplated." From a more practical point of view, the rapidly growing class of professional people and managers of new businesses provided Grove with ready buyers for his schemes. In Asheville, Grove bought a lot for a home on Liberty Street and started a chemical plant on South Main Street, "to keep his hand in," but his energies were not satisfied. Enamoured of the view of Asheville and the distant mountains from Sunset Mountain, on the northeast of the city, he began to plan a residential development on the northern boundary of the city where the rolling-terrain, distance from the central city, and proximity to the Swannanoa Golf Club provided background for a suburb suitable for the elite of the city. There is no evidence that Grove planned a "streetcar-suburb" for the north end of Charlotte Street; indeed, Grove's suburb, although adjacent to the Proximity Park neighborhood [see Proximity Park Historic District] would be for civic leaders who could afford the motor car, of which Grove himself was the foremost advocate. Before 1911 he had removed the tracks of the steam railway up Sunset Mountain and replaced them with the Sunset Mountain Autoway, touted as "probably the only exclusive automobile road in the south, if not the entire country." The Sunset Mountain autoway is today Macon Avenue. By 1913 the Autoway led to the Grove Park Inn, constructed of native boulders by Grove and his son-in-law, Fred Seely.
Early Development of Grove Park: 1908 to 1913
In 1908 Grove began buying property in earnest. He bought first some nineteen acres from the estate of C.T.C. Deake on the east side of Charlotte Street near the city limits. This property, lying between Albemarle Park and Proximity Park residential developments, was a rectangle approximately 600 feet by 1300 feet, fronting on Charlotte Street, and comprised the area shown on the plat of 1914 as "Grove Park East of Charlotte Street." Later in 1908 he purchased from the Proximity Park Company nine lots which he later developed into Glendale Road and Ridgewood Place, at the same time doubling the size of the original Proximity Park lots.
In August 1908 Grove purchased the "Murdock tract," bounded by Charlotte Street, the Kimberly line (Swannanoa Golf Club property), Murdock Avenue and Hillside Avenue. Omitted from this purchase were eight lots owned by other individuals and one lot Grove himself had purchased in 1905, later to be the site of his office building on Charlotte Street. Three lots, on the corner of Charlotte and Hillside, were owned by J.H. Tucker, a lawyer who had built for himself a large weatherboard house in 1900. This house, considerably altered, is today the Jewish Community Center (236 Charlotte Street). Grove hired Chauncey Beadle from the Biltmore Estate to lay out streets and parks and to designate locations for trees, retaining walls and sidewalks according to the philosophy of the Olmsted Brothers, with whom Beadle had come to Asheville. Several acres fronting on Charlotte Street were set aside for a park with an entrance parkway leading by a pair of stone shelters. Parks and streets in this development, as well as in the later development of 1914, were owned by Grove until 1917, when he donated all streets, sidewalks and parks to the city of Asheville. Grove named streets in this tract for members of his family — his wife, Gertrude, son-in-law Edwin, daughter, Evelyn, and a family friend, Katherine. (Streets in a Grove development in west Atlanta were also named for these family members).
According to the Asheville Citizen, Grove contemplated: "...the erection of a hundred dwellings, built of stone and modern and artistic in the highest degree, in the park...which will be beautiful in the extreme in a short time...the dwellings to be erected will be permanent in nature being of stone and architecturally beautiful, varying in size from a six or seven room house, it is said, to large mansions..."
Lots were approximately one-third to one-half acre in size and deeds carried restrictions requiring the purchaser to build a residence within two years, costing not less than a certain sum ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, and to pay annually 7-1/2c per front foot of the lot into a fund for the "Beautifying, extension, preservation, improvement and repairs of the grounds in said Grove's Park." Each purchaser was also required to join other lot holders "between the hours of 4 and 7 p.m. on the first Monday in May of each and every year hereafter" to elect three park Commissioners and a Treasurer. Purchasers were forbidden to build factories or tenements or to re-sell to any person of "low character or a Negro."
Sales of lots in Grove's Park on the west side of Charlotte Street began almost at once. Asheville financier and civic leader Gay Green made the first purchase in the new development in December, 1908. Green, who paid Grove $1,500 for the lot at 90 Gertrude Place was president of the Asheville Steam Laundry, the Blue Ridge Coal and Wood Company, Harris-Barnett Dry Goods, the Imperial Life and Health Insurance Company and an officer of the Blue Ridge Building and Loan Association, surely the type of resident Grove hoped to attract. Purchaser number two, equally outstanding, was James Madison Chiles, president of the Carolina Nova Cola Company, and an officer of the Sunset Park Railway Company. Chiles immediately constructed a home at 70 Gertrude Place, designed by Richard Sharp Smith. Smith also designed a home for purchaser number three, Dr. Thomas Lawrence (25 Lawrence Place). Later in 1909 Reuben Robertson, general manager of the newly-established Champion Paper Company in Canton, NC, bought the second lot on Evelyn Place and shortly thereafter built a house, now destroyed. Before the end of 1913 almost half of the lots in the west division of Grove Park had been sold, and some 18 houses built. Their owners were the cream of Asheville business and industry, including J.R. Oates, vice-president of the Central Bank and Trust Company, C.W. Brown, president of Brown-Miller Shoe Company, and several lawyers and realtors. In 1913, Edwin Ray, Grove's son-in-law, purchased eight lots, building on one, now 136 Edwin Place, a fine Classical Revival cottage.
In 1913, Grove laid out 56 sizeable lots on the east side of Charlotte Street, between Albemarle Park and Macon Avenue, once the site of the old steam railway. According to Chauncey Beadle's plan, he opened Sunset Parkway off Charlotte Street as a double parkway with a grassy, tree-lined median. He continued to purchase lots from the Proximity Park Company, as well as large areas on Sunset Mountain, but the plat of 1914 shows the original 56 lots between Charlotte Street and Woodland Road. Sales in Grove Park East of Charlotte began in 1914 and in 1916 lots were offered for sale on Macon Avenue as well as Sunset Parkway. By 1922 Grove had made available a large number of lots in the old "Kimberly Tract," stretching from Evelyn Place to Ottari Road.
Years of Rapid Growth: 1914-1922
Sales of residential lots in both sections of Grove Park were brisk through 1922. Shown on Sanborn maps of 1917 are two substantial residences on Sunset Parkway (Charles A. Webb House, 55 Sunset Parkway; J.T. Bledsoe House, 44 Sunset Parkway) on the east side of Charlotte Street, and 31 dwellings on the west side of Charlotte. To the west of Charlotte Street, only a dozen or so of the original 108 lots were unsold in 1922; a number of these lots were still occupied by the original owners who had been excluded from the Murdock estate sale of 1908. Across Charlotte, in "E.W. Grove Park East of Charlotte," some 47 lots of the original 65 were sold before 1922.
Grove Park's clientele continued to be upscale. Dwellings were constructed on Edwin Place for realtors, investment brokers, bankers, the manager of the Southern Coal Company, the vice-president of the Federal Mortgage Company and for Dr. J.A. Sinclair, president of the Altamont Company, which later developed Lake View Park on Merrimon Avenue. A dwelling at 123 Edwin Place was the home of Reverend T.A. Cosgrove, principal of the acclaimed Grove Park School when the school was housed in lawyer J.H. Tucker's Victorian house on Charlotte Street, now the Jewish Community Center. At 1 Evelyn Place, Nathaniel Gennett, president and owner of Gennett Lumber Company, demolished the house built there earlier by Reuben Robertson and erected a Colonial Revival house designed by New York architect James Gamble Rogers, architect for buildings at Yale University and for Columbia University and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Evelyn Place also saw the construction in 1917 of a Colonial Revival house (107 Evelyn Place) designed by Smith and Carrier for William Jennings Bryan, "The Great Commoner," statesman, politician, preacher, and candidate, who spent several summers there before his death in 1924. The Bryan family had vacationed in Asheville since the turn of the century, but vacationed in the house on Evelyn Place only until 1922. That year the Bryan property, which stretched from the home site to Murdock Avenue, was purchased by Julia Wolfe, mother of author Thomas Wolfe and an enterprising Asheville business woman. Mrs. Wolfe bought and sold real estate actively in Asheville, and at one time owned a number of lots in Grove Park. In 1922, Kimberly Avenue was opened north of Evelyn Place as an extension of Edwin Place, leaving six lots bounded by Kimberly, Evelyn, Murdock and a small creek. These lots were known as "Bryan's Knoll" and were gradually sold by Julia Wolfe, some to individual owners and some back to E.W. Grove. About 1926 a romantic Tudor Revival cottage (5 Kimberly Avenue) was built behind the Bryan house for J.A. Groves, president of Groves Wholesale Produce Company.
Across Charlotte Street in the eastern division of Grove Park, where lots were larger, homes were larger, too. In 1913 Sunset Parkway was laid out with a central grass median and before 1922 eight sizeable homes had been constructed there, beginning with the J.T. Bledsoe home (44 Sunset Parkway), and the large, Colonial Revival dwelling built by attorney and state legislator, Charles A. Webb at the corner of Sunset Parkway and Oak Lane; (55 Sunset Parkway). Both homes were built in 1916. Seven homes were built on Macon Avenue before 1922. In 1916 Locke Craig, Asheville lawyer and Governor of North Carolina from 1913 to 1917, built a Colonial Revival home at 25 Glendale Road. The house, designed by Smith and Carrier, was built by Craig as an investment and was sold at its completion to D.E. Coyne and in 1919 to Joseph P. Dunlop, owner of Dunlop Flour and Feed Company.. In 1922 Dr. N.P. Maddux, a dentist, built at 52 Glendale Road and G.E. Lee, an investment banker, built at 54 Glendale Road. These homes were built high on the ridge which forms the base of Sunset Mountain, and required elaborate rock work and landscaping.
By 1922, the get-rich-quick fever was "...a contagion that reached epidemic proportions." Other developers were busy laying out subdivisions in other areas of the city and on its fringe. Kenilworth, Biltmore Forest and Beaver Lake, which was developed by the Lakeview Company at the mouth of Beaverdam Valley, were all developed or platted and ready for development. Kimberly Avenue, an extension of Grove Park developed by E.W. Grove, was ready for building by late 1922. Biltmore Forest and Beaver Lake were planned around golf courses, and followed the prevailing landscaping scheme for curvilinear streets, bordered by trees, medium to large size lots, deed restrictions and land use restrictions to assure property owners of exclusivity and identity. Ashevillians moved from their old homes in Montford, Chestnut Hill, Asheland Avenue and French Broad Avenue, eager to take advantage of the good life offered by the boom years of the Twenties.
Grove Park's Boom Years: 1923-1929
Easy credit propelled the real estate boom in Asheville from 1920 to 1926. In 1925, eight times as many building permits were issued as had been issued in 1919, and the easy credit momentum carried building on until the fateful day in November 1930 when the Central Bank and Trust Company closed its doors. But in Grove Park, as in the other new residential areas of the city, the enthusiasm, for Asheville real estate grew and "fanciful and picturesque dwellings (came to) reflect the spirit of the times..." Virginia Terrell, in the Sunday Citizen, September 5, 1926, said: "Of course in Asheville there are many types of houses, for building has gone to such lengths that people no longer build primarily to have a home. They can sell and build again tomorrow. They are building so much that they can play at it, build one type house here and another there; try one experiment one day and another the next."
In Grove Park, some 36 houses were built between 1922 and 1930, about equally divided between the two divisions west and east of Charlotte Street. Some were obviously fanciful but most appear to have been built for the daily routine of living, their new owners having taken advantage of the prevailing easy credit to move to the elite neighborhood.
Grove Park's largest building was built in 1926 as a headquarters building for the Asheville Woman's Club and the City Federation of Woman's Clubs (1 Sunset Parkway), which housed seventeen local women's groups. Constructed at 1 Sunset Parkway, on the corner of Charlotte Street, it cost $125,000 and contained, in addition to meeting rooms and suites for entertaining, an "...attractive auditorium, seating 700 people, with a well-equipped stage and a $12,000 pipe organ." In 1941 the building became the home of the Plonk School of Creative Arts, which had previously occupied the Classical Revival home of Dr. Carl Reynolds on Edgemont Road. Also at 50 Sunset Parkway a house was built for Mrs. Mary Baker Rumbaugh, wife of James E. Rumbaugh, owner of the Rumbaugh House in the Montford Area Historic District. Sunset Parkway was also the location of a brick Colonial Revival dwelling built for John A. Richbourg, president of the Richbourg Motor Company and the Ashlin Motor Company (25 Sunset Parkway). On Charlotte Street, between Macon Avenue and Sunset Parkway, Mrs. S.S. Beatty (317 Charlotte Street) and Dr. K.E. Montgomery (327 Charlotte Street) constructed large homes, and around the corner on Macon Avenue Sigmund I. Blomberg, owner of the Leader Department Store, built a home of Tudor Revival style (29 Macon Avenue). In 1928, M.P. Lipinsky, president of Bon Marche Department Store, was living at 15 Macon Avenue in a large home built in 1919. At 65 Woodland Road, Dr. L.M. Griffith built a handsome home, designed in the Chateauesque style by Ronald Greene, moving there in 1924. Three new homes were constructed on Ridgewood Place, one for Henry Westall in 1922 (14 Ridgewood Place). In 1927 three homes were constructed on Oak Lane, for Mrs. E.S. Oyster (17 Oak Lane), for Mrs. M.S. Carter (35 Oak Lane), and for Robert Perskey (21 Oak Lane), vice-president of Industrial Discount Corporation.
On the west side of Charlotte Street, Celia Place was developed in 1925 and 1926, when E.A. Jackson had three homes constructed there (1 Celia Place, 3 Celia Place, and 5 Celia Place). Jackson, who resided at a home built in 1923 on Macon Avenue was president of Jackson Realty and Chero-Cola Bottling Company, and was associated with L.B. Jackson in the manufacture of wholesale confections and novelties. L.B. Jackson continued in real estate development also and built the Jackson Building on Pack Square in 1923.
Several large homes were built on Evelyn Place and smaller homes on Katherine Place and Lawrence Place. In 1924 C.M. Wrenshall, vice-president of the Biltgore-Oteen Bank and a real estate officer with the Commercial Union Trust Company, built a home at 23 Edwin Place. At 7 Kimberly Avenue, north of the William Jennings Bryan House, W.C. Shuey, president of the Western Oil Company, built a Tudor Revival cottage, and W.F. Humphries, president of the Blue Ridge Grocery Company and the Amboy Land Company, built a brick Tudor Revival residence (12 Kimberly Avenue).
Land at the intersection of Murdock Avenue and Hillside Avenue, previously undeveloped, saw the construction of six two-story apartment buildings by W.N. Nixon in 1926 (Lenox Court Apartments, 6 Lenox Court, 10 Lenox Court, and 14 Lenox Court; Murdock Avenue Apartments, 7 Murdock Avenue, 11 Murdock Avenue, and 15 Murdock Avenue). Grove waived deed restrictions on this land to allow the construction of the neighborhood's first apartment buildings. Three of the buildings, facing Murdock Avenue, were of dark red brick and three on Lenox Court were built of stone. In 1927 Nixon built two commercial buildings at the corner of Lenox and Charlotte Streets, the first retail buildings in the neighborhood (248-252 Charlotte Street). At 189 Murdock Avenue north of Evelyn Place, Louis Francis, superintendent of the Carolina Wood Products Company, built a brick home in 1924, and J.B. Ross, owner of the Liberty Hill Quarry in Greensboro, NC built a home in 1927 (191 Murdock Avenue. These homes were in "Bryan's Knoll."
Grove Park Today: 1930-1988
By 1930 wild optimism had given place to desperation. The failure of local banks and the almost astronomical indebtedness of the city of Asheville cast a pall over commercial and residential building for the next forty years. In 1930, the Asheville City directory lists 16 dwellings as "vacant" on the west side of Charlotte Street; east of Charlotte, property owners fared better, as only two appear as "vacant." A number of properties changed hands between 1928 and 1930 and the original owners disappeared from the area.
By 1938, Grove Park east and west of Charlotte Street had changed very little since the years preceding the Depression. Edgar A. Fordtran built a manorial house at 50 Glendale Road in 1936. The house was situated on a choice lot and was designed by Henry Irven Gaines. Fordtran, who moved to Glendale Road from a house on the Manor Inn grounds, had a business on Haywood Street and was associated with Haverty's Furniture Company. In 1950 duplex apartments appeared at 8-10 Edwin Place and large apartment complexes were constructed at 300 and 304 Charlotte Street between Edwin and Celia in 1941 and 1963. Between 1948 and 1951, seven small dwellings were built on Lenox between Murdock and Charlotte, facing Lenox Court and the Lenox Court Apartments, which had been constructed in 1926. Single family dwellings filled the few remaining lots, many carved from Grove's large lots on Edwin Place, and the vacant lands on Woodland Road and Ridgewood Place. In 1979 a large sanctuary and education building was constructed by the Unitarian Universalist congregation at the corner of Charlotte Street and Edwin Place (1 Edwin Place). Today commercial and large residential buildings are confined to the west margin of Charlotte Street, where E.W. Grove first allowed commercial intrusion in 1926 and 1927, and to three lots on Gertrude Place.
Edwin Wiley Grove planned a homogeneous neighborhood, where civic leaders and professionals could enjoy picturesque settings and modern amenities within easy automobile distance of their workplaces in the city. Grove Park today is just such a neighborhood, basking in the beauty provided by the maturing of an 80-year-old plan.
Kimberly Amendment to Grove Park Historic District
Due to constraints of time and money, the Grove Park Historic District nomination of 1989 covered only the first phase of development. Soon thereafter, it became possible to undertake the follow-up project that has produced this nomination of the "Kimberly Lands," the second phase of the Grove Park neighborhood's development. Like the first phase, the Kimberly Amendment area is important for its distinctive streetscapes and period style houses that are distinguished from the post-World War II development around it. The Kimberly Amendment area also is important for its inclusion of the c.1890 and c.1899 houses associated with the Kimberly family, whose large farm once covered the neighborhood, as well as the Asheville County Club with its golf course that enticed home buyers to both phases of Grove Park's development. The Kimberly Amendment area also is significant for its reflection of Asheville's growth during the 1920s and 1930s. Similar to the first phase, this later phase of the neighborhood's development exemplified the nationwide movement of middle and upper-middle class homeowners from the city center to the suburbs.
Edwin Wiley Grove's residential development, Grove Park, was so popular with purchasers that in 1923, when the lots in the original section had been sold, Grove opened his second phase of residential development, extending lots and streets into land which he had been purchasing since 1913. This second development comprised 92 acres of the "Kimberly lands," part of the large farm owned by the Kimberly family of Asheville since the 1860s. The "Kimberly lands" adjoined the original Grove Park at Evelyn Place and extended north along the edge of the Asheville Country Club golf course to Ottari Road. Favoring the planning which had made his first development so successful, Grove used the Country Club golf course as a sort of park space, which the larger lots on Kimberly Avenue faced and bordered. As the terrain of the Kimberly lands did not call for curvilinear streets and small parks, the "Kimberly" subdivision was laid out in a grid pattern. Trees planted along the streets provided a setting similar to the heavily wooded area of the original Grove Park. Grove continued to use service alleys and garages for automobiles and the large, 100 foot lots with deed restrictions were laid out to attract the growing commercial and professional class which spilled over from the original development.
Grove encouraged the development of smaller lots, 60 feet wide, suitable for small incomes, in the property he owned in conjunction with William Farr. This section continues Grove's original planning and development scheme, and like the original Grove Park neighborhood, features a "...wide array of revival and eclectic domestic architecture in an appropriately landscaped setting...retains picturesque settings, diverse house types and social and economic homogeneity, and today retains one of Asheville's most sought-after residential areas."
Between 1913 and 1920 Edwin W. Grove (1850-1927) acquired in a series of purchases from the heirs of John Kimberly almost all of the remaining Kimberly acreage. The "Kimberly lands" property stretched north from Evelyn Place to Ottari Road and was the core of the Grove Park subdivision expansion. Shrunk from its original 600 acres, the property was bounded on the east by the Asheville Country Club (formerly the Swannanoa Golf Club and now the Grove Park Inn Country Club). The club, by purchasing land from the Kimberly estate and other families beginning in 1911, had increased its golf course from nine to eighteen holes. It abutted lots on Evelyn Place and, with the additions, extended from the creek at the north of Evelyn Place along Kimberly Avenue on the west to the site of the clubhouse. West of the south end of Grove's Kimberly property was the residential neighborhood of Norwood Park [see Norwood Park Historic District], oriented toward Murdock Avenue. The close proximity of Norwood Park did not allow sufficient room for Grove to include the service alleys in this area of his new development, alleys which he considered an important entity in his automobile-oriented neighborhood.
In addition to purchasing from the Kimberly family land which stretched north along the golf course, Grove also entered into an agreement with William Farr (1876-1966) to develop land which Farr owned running between Kimberly Avenue and Merrimon Avenue. Grove and Farr each were allocated lots in the Farrwood Avenue land, with Grove providing water, sewer, grading, paving and lighting for the new streets at Farrwood Avenue, Garden Terrace and Vineyard Place. Lighting for the neighborhood was "based on cost of those in Kimberly Avenue," indicating that Grove had by April, 1923, provided utility service on Kimberly Avenue. In June, 1923, a plat was completed for the Kimberly lands and W.R. Campbell was named as exclusive sales agent for both Farr and Grove. Sales were made through the E.W. Grove Investment Company. After Grove's death in 1927, the St. Louis (Missouri) Union Trust Co. bank made sales for his estate.
The immediate environs of Grove's second phase of Grove Park already contained three houses when he began the development in 1923. All three were intimately connected with the family of John Kimberly (1817-1876), a professor of chemistry and, later, agriculture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After the Civil War, he purchased 600 acres of land for $20,000 on the northern edge of Asheville, with the intention of becoming a farmer. Eventually, the land was divided among his heirs and between 1913 and 1915 his three unmarried children built and shared a house on Stanly Street, now Edgewood Road (David Kimberly House, 43 Edgewood Road). The Prairie-influenced house, designed by Kimberly's daughters, stands on the last parcel of Kimberly farmland remaining in the possession of the Kimberly heirs. Two other Kimberly children had built houses c.1899 (27 Edgewood Road) and c.1890 (Rebecca Kimberly House, 39 Edgewood Road) on what is now Kimberly Avenue. These houses were moved to Stanly Street in 1918 and were set on lots later included in Grove's plat.
The first two houses built on the "Kimberly Lands" following its opening (Patrick H. Branch House, 84 Kimberly Avenue and L.B. Jackson House, 92 Kimberly Avenue) were constructed in 1923 by Asheville developer Lynwood Baldwin (L.B.) Jackson, who proceeded to buy and develop numerous lots in the Grove Park expansion, particularly on Kimberly Avenue. Jackson was "Asheville's Best Known Citizen" and a young wonder in real estate and development when, in 1924, at age 28 he erected the first "skyscraper," in western North Carolina, the Jackson Building on Pack Square. Jackson, called "a wizard of building and land auctions," was born in Cuthbert, Georgia, in 1896, and moved with his family to Asheville in 1914. His father, Edmond A. Jackson, established the Chero Cola bottling works in Asheville, which later became the Nehi Company, and also developed a real estate and construction company. In 1922, "L.B.," as Jackson was called, joined his father in the real estate business, taking advantage of the growing interest in real estate speculation which was spreading over western North Carolina.
Jackson began building houses in Asheville and Biltmore. Some were built on commission from the property owner, as the Ruffner Campbell house at 44 Kimberly Avenue, and some were built on speculation and often rented until a purchaser could be found. One of the first two houses on Kimberly Avenue, 92 Kimberly Avenue, Jackson built for himself, later selling it and moving into another new dwelling. Many of the 18 houses Jackson constructed in this neighborhood have similarities of design, indicating that Jackson adapted stock plans. There is no record of his having the assistance of a registered architect with his building. Jackson's interest in the Spanish-Mediterranean architecture of Florida, where he owned a residence for a number of years, is evident in several of the houses he constructed on Kimberly Avenue. After 1929, he abandoned real estate for a time, engaging in sales of various kinds, but soon returned to his favorite pastime — "building houses and developing real estate." When he died in Asheville in 1974, he had built some 500 houses in the city, including subdivisions in Linwood Park, Oakhurst, Beverly Hills, Oak Park, Royal Pines, and 18 houses on Kimberly Avenue.
The large lots on Kimberly Avenue were purchased before 1930 by the cream of Asheville's business and professional community, some new purchasers moving there from the original Grove Park neighborhood. Salesmen and small businessmen purchased property on Farrwood Avenue, Garden Terrace and Vineyard Place, where the lots were smaller and less expensive and it was easier to get into the booming speculative real estate market. By 1930, all of the smaller lots on Kimberly had been sold and houses erected upon them, but a wooded area remained on Kimberly Avenue north of Farrwood Avenue. In 1925, an English Tudor manor house, designed by William Waldo Dodge, Jr., was constructed at 30 Kimberly Knoll Road. Dodge, who had also built a Tudor Revival house in the original portion of Grove Park (29 Ridgewood Place), continued his architectural practice from Biltmore Forest, the location of numerous Dodge houses and the place where he maintained his studio and a thriving silver shop. By 1930 several additional dwellings had been built on the east side of Kimberly Knoll Road, fronting on Kimberly Avenue.
With the failure of banks in Asheville in 1930, construction of new houses came to a halt. A number of large homes on Kimberly Avenue were sold or rented while their owners rented smaller houses elsewhere in the city. At least a few Kimberly Avenue property owners purchased smaller houses in the same neighborhood. A number of these owners returned to their larger houses after 1935. By 1936, several new houses had been constructed on Kimberly Avenue north of Farrwood Avenue, including a Tudor Revival Lynwood B. Jackson built for himself at 201 Kimberly Avenue. Reputed to have Asheville's first "picture window," which overlooked the Asheville Country Club golf course, it was also the first home in the city to be financed by the Federal Housing Authority.
As the Depression drew to a close, the mid-1930s saw the return of architect-designed houses in the neighborhood. Charles W. Parker designed a house for Hardy S. Chambers at 30 Farrwood Avenue. This unpretentious brick house with its bright, open interior establishes Parker as a man capable not only of producing the commercial showplace, as exemplified by his Grove Arcade (Downtown Asheville Historic District) but also as an able designer of domestic dwellings. Parker came to Asheville in 1904 from Hillsboro, Ohio, working at first for the firm of Smith and Carrier. He, too, designed a number of houses in Biltmore Forest.
Ronald Greene designed the house at 304 Kimberly Avenue for Charles M. Britt in 1936. This Colonial Revival house has stone end walls and weatherboard (now vinyl clad) front and rear, and is the only contributing building with this feature.
After 1940, three apartment houses were built on Kimberly Avenue (198, 240, and 382 Kimberly Avenue, and one at 80 Farrwood Avenue (Farrgrove Apartments). After World War II, a motel was constructed on the corner of Farrwood and Merrimon Avenues. In addition, a number of Minimal Traditional and Ranch style houses were built in the neighborhood, particularly on the east side of Kimberly Avenue and interspersed among the historic buildings on other streets. Nevertheless, the Grove Park Kimberly neighborhood remains as significant today as it was in Asheville's "boom" period of 1923-1930.
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‡ Sybil A. Bowers, Consultant and Carolyn Humphries, Consultant, Bowers Southeast Preservation, Grove Park Historic District, Asheville, Buncombe County, N. C., nomination document, 1988, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Bond Street • Canterbury Road • Celia Place • Charlotte Street • Country Club Road • Edgewood Road • Edwin Place • Evelyn Place • Farrwood Avenue • Garden Terrace • Gertrude Place • Glendale Road • Gracelyn Road • Griffing Boulevard • Howland Road • Katherine Place • Kimberly Avenue • Kimberly Knoll Road • Lawrence Place • Lenox Court • Lenox Street • Macon Avenue • Maywood Road • Merrimon Avenue • Murdock Avenue • Oak Lane • Ridgewood Place • Sunset Parkway • Vineyard Place • Warwick Place • Westall Avenue • Woodland Road