Do you know (or remember) what a Fire Alarm Box is?




When it was not common for people to have telephones in their homes, if your house caught on fire, you would run to the nearest fire alarm box and pull the handle. Using electric impulses, the box would send a number of tolls on a bell to the fire station where a fireman would translate the number, in this case #39, and know where the fire was. This box would send in 3 tolls, then a short pause and then 9 tolls, a long pause, and repeat itself four times. Register tapes also printed out the number for visual verification.


Interior view of the Asheville Fire Department’s alarm equipment room. Circuit boards for alarm circuit on back wall; tape registers on left and on the two smaller tables at back; the repeater is box on the left and the alarm station to center left where a fireman could stand and call out, note phone at station and at center desk. This was before two-way radios existed. Photo probably was taken when the new equipment was installed in 1924.

The fire box system was installed here in the early 1890s, upgraded in 1924, and some monitoring equipment was added in the 1960s. It wasn’t until 1987 that the city removed the 114 public fire alarm boxes in the city citing they were too unreliable and their upkeep was too expensive.

This 1968 street scene shows a fire alarm box on the pole to the right.


Photograph of the intersection of Broadway and Walnut Streets, Asheville, 1968. Photo by Andrea Clark.


The fire alarm box is on display along with a photograph exhibit:

Some of Asheville’s Most Famous Fires.


Firemen fighting fire near Tingle’s Cafe at#27 Broadway, June 1, 1953.

Firemen can be seen in this photograph climbing to the third floor of the building as the smoke followed an upward draft. Firemen from at least seven companies battled the blaze for about an hour. The fire was caused by burning grease on a kitchen stove, which damaged the building to the extent of several thousand dollars. Tingles’ Cafe was at the current location of Strada Italiano.


Also on display are early photographs of the Asheville Fire Department and Asheville Fire Department Record Books starting in 1893.


Photograph of a long horse-drawn fire wagon and Asheville firemen, in front of the 1892 Asheville City Hall in December, 1900. Photo by A.B. Pope.

If you haven’t been to the North Carolina Room in awhile, this is a nice exhibit to see.

Swannanoa Woodcarver Wade Martin Carves One Last Piece

Wade Martin

Feature article in “The State” magazine on the Southern Highlands Handicraft Guild with woodcarver Wade Martin on the front cover, July 12, 1952.

Wade “Gob” Hampton Martin was born in 1920, the son of Marcus Lafayette and Callie Holloway Martin. He had four brothers, Edsel, Wayne, Fred and Quintin and one sister, Zenobia. All of them carved. In the early 1930s the family moved from Andrews, N.C. to Swannanoa, N.C. Wade was nine at the time and grew up in Beacon Village. After serving in W.W. II, Wade got a job at the Beacon Manufacturing Company. In 1950 he took some carvings to Margaret Roberts, the manager of Allanstand Craft Shop in Asheville. When she sold those, Wade carved more. In her article, “The Carvings of Wade Martin” in May We All Remember Well, Vol. 1,  Maggie Lauterer wrote that when Wade got laid off at Beacon he started carving full-time. He found he could make more money selling three carvings a week than working in the mill.


Wade Martin in plaid shirt standing inside the Allanstand Mountain Craft Shop at 16 College Street with shop manager Margaret Roberts far left, Gertrude Bader in black and William Bader to far right, 1952. Gertrude Bader was a salesperson at Allanstand and William Bader worked in marquetry and was also a member of the guild.

Martin, a master craftsman sold his pieces all over the country and won national acclaim. “Fiddin’ with Wood” by Carol Mallett Rifkin, Asheville Citizen-Times April 29, 2007 mentioned that Wade Martin’s “original carvings sold for $25 or less and were often given as gifts or bartered in exchange for medical or dental care. Many sell for thousands of dollars today. A set of four small musical figures recently sold at Brunk Auctions in Asheville for close to $4,000.”


On the back of this print is written, “Woman with rolling pin…Allanstand retail $35.00.” Photograph donation from Robert Brunk, via Jerry Israel, via Margaret Roberts.

Wade started carving less and less in the late 1980s and had basically stopped by 1993. And then Algene “Genie” Larae Ott asked Wade if he’d make one more carving, a carving of Smokey the Bear signing “I love you?”

And, so, he did.

MS256.002C PHOTO D

Algene “Genie” Larae Ott, owner of Smokey the Bear, October 15, 1993.


MS256.002A PHOTO A

Wade Martin holding his carving Smokey the Bear standing beside his wife Francis Stuart Martin, July 26, 1993. Wade Martin died October 26, 2005.

Swannanoa resident and photographer Bob Ruiz took the Smokey the Bear photos. Through Swannanoa Library branch manager Carla Hollar, Ruiz loaned the prints to the North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library for scanning. They are a part of the Bob Ruiz Photograph Collection MS256 which contains hundreds of photographs documenting Swannanoa, that he has so generously allowed the library to copy and add to our collection.

You might look for Smokey the Bear when you travel around Western North Carolina. He’s likely to show up in the most appropriate places.

MS256.002B PHOTO A

Smokey the Bear at Ridge Junction Overlook, Milepost 355 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

MS256.002B PHOTO B

Smokey the Bear at Mount Mitchell.

MS256.002B PHOTO C

Smokey the Bear with a smaller bear carving posing at the French Broad Ranger Station of the Pisgah National Forest.

For more information see:

May We All Remember Well, Vol. 1, 1997, “The Carvings of Wade Martin” by Maggie Lauterer.

Woodcarving Mountaineer Style with a Barlow Pocket Knife by Wade Martin, 1986. [Ref. NC  736.4 MAR]
Post by Zoe Rhine, librarian


Pack Memorial Library Reference Staff 1990

Library Reference Staff 1990: Spring Chicken Laura Gaskin in back row 3rd from left. Lewis Buck front row on left. Top Row L to R: Philip Banks, Jan Jenkins, Laura Gaskin, Anna Yount (then head of Reference). Middle Row L to R: Miranda McLoughlin, Buffy White, Carol Flemming, Rosalie Carter. Front Row, Lewis Buck and Chuck Cady.

Our fearless leader, Laura Gaskin, is retiring from Pack Memorial Library after 24 years of dedicated service.  Laura has been the Head Librarian here for most of that time, but she cut her teeth as the first Special Collections Librarian at Pack.

It’s staggering to think about the work and dedication it must have taken to process, organize, and catalog the North Carolina Special Collections.  The collection as it stood was an impressive one full of books, maps, clipping files, newspapers, manuscripts, etc. Laura and her trusted co-worker, Lewis Buck, believed that the collection deserved more recognition. With a lot of hard work and dedication, and a fair dose of gumption, they took a behemoth amount of material and turned it into one of the finest Special Collections in the state.

Thank you, Laura, for being a great librarian. We will miss you!

She’s funny too! Laura has co-workers tickled.

Eighteen current and past staff celebrated Laura’s retirement Friday, September 26, 2014 at Zambra’s Tapas Bar. Above, L to R Laura’s husband Bill Flynt, Laura Gaskin, Margaret Dahm and Eva Carter in view.


Zoe Rhine, Jennifer Stuart, Betsy Murray, Ann Wright and Cathie Osada.


Phlip Banks, Cathie Osada, Sherry Roane, Michael Clark and Bill Flynt.

Posted by Lyme Kedic with dates and library lore help from another great Special Collections Librarian, Ann Wright

The United States Weather Bureau in Asheville

A friend and loyal supporter of our HeardTell blog sent last week’s post on the Pack Square weather kiosk to Frank Quinlan, a retired professor from UNCA’s Atmospheric Sciences Department.

Mr. Quinlan, who was one of several people writing us back saying that the kiosk was new information to them, also sent us back one of our photographs in the North Carolina collection, marking the edge of the kiosk as well as the weather equipment that was then located on the top of the legal building.

1917 Red Cross meeting and send off of troops for W.W.I.

All of which made me want to document it all further. Information like this, visible information, is invaluable for helping to date photographs.
The United States Weather Bureau first established a station in Asheville in 1902 and it was first located in the Drhumor Building on Patton Avenue and Church Street. The Asheville Gazette in June of 1902 teased, “In another month or so Asheville will have a government weather bureau and then the world will be kept informed where the really fine weather is to be found.”
A Dr. R.M. Gedding was sent to Asheville to be in charge. Congressman James Montraville Moody of Waynesville was responsible for the establishment of a bureau here.  Previously residents had to rely on reports from the Charlotte or Raleigh bureaus which were totally inadequate for the mountain section. By 1904 the weather station was moved into the library building, the castellated building also seen in the above photo and in the postcard below.
A typical “weather report” preceding the Weather Bureau’s establishment in Asheville looked like this:
The following weather report appears to be the first published in The Asheville Gazette by the newly established Weather Bureau:

Asheville Daily Gazette, August 29, 1902

The Weather Bureau moved into the Legal Building around July, 1910 and it was there through 1929. A closer look at the weather equipment can be seen in this photo below. The weather kiosk is in view between Vance Monument and the band stand in the center of the square. At the time the weather kiosk was placed here in 1909, there were only 29 other U.S. cities that had one.

Circa 1920 photo showing “Welcome Home” banner at the Vance Monument by “War Camp Community Service”

 In 1930 the Weather Bureau moved into the new Federal Building on Otis Street.


*A note to researchers: Prior to these last two posts, we had very little, well, next to no, information on the weather bureau or the weather kiosk. Pack Memorial Library recently subscribed to Staff have found it to be one of the most helpful aids in researching early newspapers. It is available for use in the library if you would like to use it.
Post by Zoe Rhine, Librarian

The Weather Kiosk on Pack Square

One day recently, a traveler from Switzerland came into Pack Memorial Library to talk about Asheville’s weather kiosk. Weather kiosk? Sure enough, the gentleman pulled out several photos of Pack Square that he’d printed from the library’s web site and there it was. As familiar as those photos were, I had never noticed the blocky white structure in the center of the square, a United States Weather Bureau kiosk hidden in plain sight.



Herbert Pelton: photographer. NC Collection Pack Library: B440-8

The Weather Bureau began building kiosks in 1909, equipping them with meteorological instruments, and placing them around the country. The kiosks were identical, standing four feet square and nine feet in height. Made of solid cast iron and plate glass, they were set on a solid granite base. The instruments included a thermometer to record dry temperature as well as a hygrometer to show the degree of humidity. A mechanical barograph drew a line registering barometric variations as they occurred. A rain gauge measured total precipitation while recording the time when the rain fell. The daily official weather map was also displayed.



Pack Square circa 1910. NC Collection Pack Library: L744-4

Asheville wasted no time in setting up its kiosk. The Asheville Citizen reported on July 3, 1909 that “the kiosk will be ready for us in the next few days.” It assured readers that it “much improves the square and is centrally located making it available to everyone in the city.” Civic pride in the kiosk was short lived, however. City boosters were outraged to discover that its thermometer registered uncomfortably high temperatures in summer.

Asheville, North Carolina, published by the Asheville Board of Trade in 1914, reported that the average maximum temperature in both July and August was 81 degrees. Therefore, visitors to the city could escape the “oppressive, enervating conditions accompanying warm weather at lower altitudes.” When the readings provided by the new kiosk failed to support this appeal, the Board began a campaign to discredit it.



Weather kiosk amid Barnum & Bailey Circus 1909 NC Collection Pack Library: B109-4

“Weather Kiosk is an Automatic Liar,” read a headline in the Citizen on August 30, 1909. The high temperatures were blamed on its placement on Pack Square’s paved surface without the benefit of shade. “High Temperatures from Radiation Deceptive,” the Citizen reported on June 6, 1911 before going on to write that “visitors noting temperature readings would be led to believe the city is hot.” Critics further faulted the kiosk for its “beautifully colored pictures of clouds and various explanations, all of which are calculated to catch the eye of the stranger” who would then note the discrepancy. The local weather bureau agreed to put up a disclaimer on the kiosk that read, “On account of local radiation from the pavement and surrounding buildings and from other causes the maximum temperatures recorded here are frequently considerably higher than those of the free air from which official readings are made.”



ca 1917. NC Collection Pack Library: L335-DS

On August 2, 1912, the aldermen discussed whether to move the kiosk to a new location. News coverage of the controversy becomes scarce after this, however, and apparently the weather kiosk remained in its Pack Square location until December 12, 1919. At that time, the Citizen reported that a contract had been issued for the construction of restrooms underground at Pack Square. To clear the construction area, arrangements were to be made “for the removal of the kiosk from the site on which the station will be built. The kiosk probably will be put in some other portion of the square.”

No further mention of the weather kiosk appears in the Citizen. One can only imagine what became of it after that. Did it move on to a more hospitable city? Was it returned to the Weather Bureau? Was it disassembled by its detractors?   We can thank the Swiss traveler for leaving us with this puzzle.


Blog post by Laura Gaskin, Pack Memorial Library

The Richard Hansley Photograph Collection

Can you identify the locations of these architectural details? They can be found adorning some of Asheville’s best loved historic buildings. The buildings will be identified at the bottom of this post. We’ll begin with some that should be easy to identify.

1 and 2

3 and 4

5 6 and 7

8 and 9

10 and 11

12 13 and 14

All of these photos, plus THOUSANDS! and THOUSANDS! more were donated to the NC Collection by our friend Richard Hansley: architect, teacher, photographer and author. In 1969 Richard Hansley began teaching architectural drafting at Asheville High School and taking photographs of notable Asheville buildings and landmarks for use in his classes.

RHC PHOTO A Hansley, Richard

Richard Hansley around 1992, during his last year teaching at Asheville High School

After retirement from high school teaching, Hansley taught a class on the history of Asheville architecture through the UNCA College for Seniors, and he continued to add to his collection of slides. Various pictorial histories of Asheville helped guide his choices of buildings to photograph. In order to make use of the versatility of Power Point, he transferred all his slides into digital format. In 2013 he gave copies of his digital photographs of Asheville architecture to the NC Collection. These images, plus many documents about the history of Asheville buildings and builders, comprise the Richard Hansley Photograph Collection.

The collection includes digital images of more than 160 different Asheville buildings and landmarks. Check it out! I guarantee that you will be amazed by the depth and breadth of this collection. It’s hard to imagine a more thorough and complete record of Asheville’s Architectural Icons as they appeared around the end of the Twentieth Century. Follow the link to our online catalog:

and use “Richard Hansley Photograph Collection” as Keyword.

In many cases Hansley has taken interior as well as exterior views, including many close-ups of architectural details.

Exterior and Interior Views of the James Edwin Rumbough home on Zillicoa Street in Montford.

Exterior and Interior Views of the James Edwin Rumbough home on Zillicoa Street in Montford.

I believe that this visual record of Asheville around the end of the Twentieth Century is so important that I have spent untold hours over the past year working on our online record of the collection. I wanted our online patrons to be able to SEE as many of these beautiful photographs as possible. I have created a separate photograph record for each of the 163 different building or sites. When the record includes more than six separate views, a pdf of the digital images allows viewers to scroll easily through the photographs. In some cases, when the landmark no longer exists, or in order to document the changing appearance of a building, Hansley included copies of archival photographs taken from books, postcards and other sources.

Hansley’s years of study culminated in Asheville’s Historic Architecture, his book about buildings in Asheville, published in 2011 by History Press. Check out his book, and enjoy the photographs in the Richard Hansley Photograph Collection.

Here are the answers to our Architectural Scavenger Hunt. How well do you know your Asheville architecture?

1) Battery Park Hotel; 2) Drhumor Building; 3) Wick & Greene Jewelers; 4) YMI Cultural Center; 5) Street Fair on Battery Park Avenue; 6) Howard Hanger Hall; 7) Central Methodist Church; 8) Queen Anne house at 263 Haywood Street; 9) Office of E. W. Grove on Charlotte Street; 10) Castanea Building; 11) Frances Apartments in Montford at 333 Cumberland Avenue; 12) Douglas Ellington’s Block House at 24 Kimberly Avenue; 13) Public Service Building (do you see Leda and the Swan?) and 14) Claxton Elementary School.

Posted by Betsy Murray

“Let’s Talk About Anthony Lord” Presentation: A Glimpse at What Was Told

The Friends of the North Carolina Room sponsored a presentation, “Let’s Talk About Anthony Lord” on Thursday, August 28, 2014. Seventy-five people attended the event and got to know more about Lord’s life, profession, his many avocations and the effect his life had on Asheville. It is a hard task to recount what five close friends of Lord’s, all impassioned by his influence on their lives, and empowered by his vast knowledge and character and abilities in so many endeavors, had to say. Each speaker acknowledged the influence Lord had on who they were and who they were to become and how he touched Asheville in his own personal way. Very soon it became clear that Lord loved conversation, sharing wine and good meals, and was as interested in the young people around him as much, if not more, than the people his own age. John Warner said that he was most amazed when Tony was in his 90s and was out buying a new computer.


“Let’s Talk About Anthony Lord” at the Lord Auditorium, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville, NC.

Deborah Austin opened with an introduction into the biographical aspects of Lord’s life, setting the tone reminding us that Tony, being born in 1900, grew up in Asheville in horse-and-carriage days—and how far he went, in his openness to what happened in the time span of his life, always ready to learn and listen and continue to take part in the things he found value in. She introduced the speakers, who each spoke on an aspect of Lord’s many talents from their own professions.


Deborah Austin MC’d the presentation.

Author Elizabeth Kostova talked about what she said was the most rewarding experience of her life — working with Tony Lord on the publication of their book, 1927: The Good Natured Chronicle of a Journey which was published by The Captain’s Bookshelf, Asheville, N.C., 1995. The book tells of the trip Lord took to Europe and North Africa in 1927 just after graduating from Yale. The book incorporates photographs, sketches and watercolors that Lord made. He had brought home with him in the spring of 1928, “more than seventy sketches in watercolor, ink, pencil, and gouache, and hundreds of photographs.”


Elizabeth Kostova speaking about her experience working with Tony on the book they wrote.

Peter Austin told about in the 1930s during the great depression when there was little work for a recently graduated architect, Tony started a business in ironwork to make a living. Much of it was used at the Yale Campus and at the Washington National Cathedral. It is not known how much of the ironwork survives in Western N.C. We do know he made the gates at the Franklin S. Terry residence in Black Mountain, which later became In-the-Oaks Episcopal center for the Diocese of WNC.  Peter loaned for the exhibit a matching section of wrought iron gate that was used on a house in Biltmore Forest. Documenting Lord’s wrought ironwork in Asheville would be a worthwhile project. Peter has identified Lord’s mark as being a stylized F-A-F for the name of his business, Flint Architectural Forgings which existed from circa 1931 to 1937. The symbol appears more as two curved E’s meeting over an A. Please let us know if you know of any of Lord’s iron work in the local area. Homes in North Asheville and Biltmore Forest would be likely subjects. To read more about Peter’s research on Lord’s ironwork see his article, “The Ironwork of Tony Lord,” in May We All Remember Well, Volume II, edited by Robert Brunk, 2001.


Peter Austin talking about Anthony Lord’s ironwork.

iron gateIMG_0249

A matching piece of Lord’s wrought iron gate on entrance doors to a home in Biltmore Forest shown on exhibit from the collection of Peter Austin.

Artist Dianne Cable, a former Lecturer in Art for many years at U.N.C.A. showed photographs of Lord’s sketches and watercolors from the 1927 trip to Europe sequentially, pointing out how Lord’s early sketches showed his training as an architect and how he would have been interested in understanding how a building was built, but then talked about how the art work evolved, giving way imaginatively, she said, to a more mature artistic work, allowing the effects of light and color and water—although still controlled—to become the main elements of a painting, with the architectural elements receding.


Dianne Cable speaking about Lord’s sketches and watercolors.


“Pazzi Chapel,” Florence, Italy. Graphite & Charcoal by Anthony Lord, 1927-28; Property of Pack Memorial Library.


“Tunisia,” Watercolor and Gouache, 1927-28; property of Peggy Garnder.

Photographer Terry Davis, shown speaking below with the iconic photograph of Tony Lord standing by one of the trees he planted in Asheville, talked about how Lord’s photography, was yet another art form Lord worked well in.  Apparent in his photographs is Lord’s love of architecture, trees in city landscapes, shade, water—and the people of those particular places living and enjoying them. The series of photographs shown made one not think twice about what mattered to the eye of this artist, but did give one chill bumps thinking of what he would bring home within himself, and how that would end up affecting the town from which he came. Seeing what Tony saw and captured in Europe made me see what more could be accomplished in Asheville, though as Terry said, he thought Lord would be quite happy to return to Asheville and stroll through town.


Terry Davis speaking on the photography of Anthony Lord.






One of two Maple trees planted by Anthony Lord at Pritchard Park. Photo taken August 2014.

Architect John Rogers began by saying he felt it seemed his lot in life to defend Tony’s architecture. He explained by saying that an architect, for the most part works for his clients. But he offered as examples of work that was probably the most exemplary of Lord’s particular desire for architecture, the buildings at Warren Wilson College and at the grounds of Montreat, Western Carolina University and UNC at Greensboro as buildings that are nestled into the landscape situated right in the midst of trees. “Buildings are shaped by living patterns and by the opportunities nature presents and become an interactive part of the game.”


John Rogers talking about Anthony Lord’s architecture.


Commercial Center, Montreat, N.C. Photo by John Warner, 1963.

Photographer John Warner, who was not able to be at the talk, recorded a couple of his favorite Lord stories which ended in a video of Lord that he had recorded. The presentation ended with us all getting to hear the wonderful, hearty laughter of Tony Lord.

The presentation was held in the Lord Auditorium, named after Tony Lord who served on Pack Memorial Library’s Board of Trustees for 40 years. As Peter Austin pointed out, “Pack Library would most likely not be in this building today without the work Tony gave to it from the late 1940s when it became obvious the library had outgrown its site at Pack Square.” Lord also worked for twenty years, planting trees downtown and encouraging Asheville City Council to adopt the project, until twenty years later when the Tree commission was formally organized.

001Tony Lord sml

Tony Lord, Asheville’s “Renaissance Man.” Photograph by Peggy Gardner.

Anthony Lord (1900-1993). Asheville native, blacksmith, artist, architect, civic leader, lover of books and planter of trees.

Thank you, Tony, for all that you gave us, and for being such a mentor to so many people, then and now, and for living a life worth recalling.

[End note: This observer thinks that there is still, after two retrospective exhibits of Anthony Lord's work, the first being at the Asheville Art Museum in 1984, much to be discussed, discovered, documented and archived about Anthony Lord's life and work. Please let us know if you would like to be a part of this effort. Buncombe County TV video recorded the event at Pack Memorial Library and it will be added to the North Carolina Room's video archives.]

Post by Librarian Zoe Rhine. Photographs taken by Brenda Murphree.