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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
“Skyline Dairy was clean, modern, and cool. We would have cones of lemon sherbet after a Sunday afternoon drive. Most often we ate in the car, probably because it kept my brother and I quiet and contained for a few minutes. Always loved that facade — another example of short-lived good modern architecture, now just a postcard memory!” Ed Gunn, New York City
I’ve collected postcards for many years. A good portion of my collection of linen cards from the 1940’s and 50’s was purchased in the late 1970’s from The Asheville Postcard Company on Carolina Lane. Several years ago some 200 of the Asheville and Western North Carolina cards were added to the NC Collection. I’ve never stopped adding to my collection. Thank you eBay.
This past spring I bid on and won a card of an Asheville building I’d never seen before: Skyline Cooperative Dairy. A quick search of the NC Collection website led me to a single black and white photograph of the building. The brief citation noted that Anthony Lord designed it.
The NC Collection is fortunate to possess architectural plans from the architectural firm Six Associates that Anthony Lord helped found. In one of the many dusty tubes are the initial structural plans and elevations of Skyline Cooperative Dairy. As you enter Pack Library to attend “Let’s Talk About Anthony Lord” on August 28 at 6 pm, look for the glass case on your right containing the original elevation and a black and white photograph of the Skyline building.
In the late 1920’s a modern tunnel was bored through Beaucatcher Mountain providing direct access to downtown Asheville from the east via US 70/ US 74A.
In the spring of 1946, Anthony Lord began designing a modern cooperative dairy to be located on a plot of land in the Haw Creek Ward of Buncombe County. The plot is described as bordering a “concrete highway”, backed up by Ross Creek and the “Hildebrand estate”. Driving from downtown on Tunnel Road you will pass on your left The Cornerstone Restaurant (in the 1960’s it was a Shoney’s) and the exit/entrance to I240. This was the location of Skyline Cooperative Dairy at 110 Tunnel Road.
Skyline Cooperative Dairy was a project of The Farmer’s Federation. According to an article in Farmer’s Federation News in May of 1948 the cooperative received milk from local farmers and pasteurized the milk in 16 seconds in stainless steel equipment. At that time milk was delivered in large cans from the farmers. An innovation in the new building was a mechanized can washer. It washed and sterilized a can, replacing the lid as soon as the milk was removed. The milk, the article rhapsodizes, “is entirely enclosed in stainless steel pipes and tanks until it reaches the bottle.”
The dairy bar portion of building was “constructed of structural glass with chrome trim” and seated about 80 people. Alas, there is no description of the interior décor. In my fevered imagination I picture chrome chairs and stools padded with shiny, red or perhaps green patterned vinyl. In addition, an “open air terrace” seated an additional 80 customers.
The first City Directory listing for Skyline Cooperative Dairy on Tunnel Road appears in 1947. Listings appeared in 1948 and 1949; in 1951 the address changed to 110 Tunnel Road. In 1953 the listing is accompanied by a small ¼ page ad. There was a full-page ad in the City Directory in 1954 extolling the famous terrace and late night summer hours on Friday evening!
Listings in the City Directory for Skyline run through 1958. In 1959 the listing at 110 Tunnel Road changed to Coble Co-operative, Inc. and in 1960, the Coble Dairy Bar at 112 Tunnel Road appears. By 1968 when I got my driver’s license, the spot on Tunnel Road had become a Shoney’s with a Big Boy statue in front.
The purchase of a single postcard led me on a serendipitous search to discover a small part of the history of Asheville, a vanished building by a talented architect, and sparked my imagination thinking of what the interior of the building might have looked like. If you remember what the interior looked like, please let me know. And if you recently purchased a brownish-photo postcard of a Southern Engineering Steel Building on Haywood and Walnut Street in Asheville (drats), please consider donating it to the NC Collection. Just like I’m donating my postcard of Skyline Cooperative Dairy. They’re postcard memories of an Asheville that no longer exists.
Post by Friends of the North Carolina Room Board Member Terry Taylor.
We hope to see you Thursday, August 28th 6:00-7:00 at the Lord Auditorium, lower level of Pack Memorial Library, 67 Haywood Street, Asheville, N.C.
The event is free and open to the public.
A couple of weeks ago we were fortunate to receive a donation of Bernard Elias material. Bernard was a photographer, filmmaker, world traveler, avid hiker, and a fierce advocate for nature conservation in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Bernard was born in 1918 and grew up in Biltmore Forest. His family home provided a great vantage point for him to take in the natural beauty of places like Mount Pisgah. Evidently taking in the scenery wasn’t enough. According to author and hiker, Danny Bernstein, at age 14 Bernard and a buddy had a real hankering to walk to the top of Mount Pisgah. Age, gear, and land access limitations be darned!
From Danny’s article published in the MountainXpress in 2006:
The boys didn’t have sleeping bags so they took army blankets, a pup tent and cans of food — there were no freeze-dried meals back then. They jumped the fence into Biltmore Estate — the place was not as heavily patrolled as it is now — and managed to get someone to row them across the French Broad River. From there (this was before the Blue Ridge Parkway, mind you), all they had to guide them was the Shut-In Trail, a route originally built by George Vanderbilt to get him from his estate to Buck Spring Lodge. The boys took two days to reach Mount Pisgah.
Now that’s pretty impressive in my book. It’s staggering to think of the effort it took to just get to a trailhead, much less hike the thing. Anyone hiking the area in the pre-Blue Ridge Parkway days had to REALLY want to hike.
The young Elias survived his Mount Pisgah stint and went on to graduate from Duke University, be a Scoutmaster, work as a Navy photographer during WWII, and hold positions with Ecusta Paper Plant and Ball Photo.
Bernard Elias was the longest tenured member of the Carolina Mountain Club. He worked tirelessly to stop the Transmountain Railroad through the Smokies in the 1960s. His map The 100 Favorite Trails of the Great Smokies and Carolina Blue Ridge, first published in 1966, is highly regarded and still in demand today.
Here’s some publicity all the way from Indiana in 1989:
His knowledge of Southern Appalachian trails was much sought after within the community.
I got a good giggle out of this one:
He could also wear a hat with great panache.
Post by Lyme Kedic
Special thanks to Danny Bernstein for her work in facilitating this donation.
The Mountain Dance and Folk Festival:
“Since 1928, mountain fiddlers, banjo pickers, dulcimer sweepers, dancers, balladeers and others have come to enjoy themselves “along about sundown” the first weekend in August at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival. This year marked the 87th festival.
1928: Asheville, North Carolina. Well-known musician and folk historian Bascom Lamar Lunsford organizes performers to present traditional mountain music and dance to the public in this first iteration of what will become the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival. This first festival was held at Pack Square as part of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce’s Rhododendron Festival. Prize money was offered for the best dance group and the best band and the great tradition of the festival was born. Cecil Pless and Sam Love Queen organized the dancers for Lunsford.”
Some of the more well-known performers included people like buck dancer Bill McElreath (1904-1974), who is accompanied here by fiddler J. Laurel Johnson.
And ballad singer Rilla Ray made a special contribution to the festival.“Old-timers like Rilla Ray (1886-1978) of Madison County made a special contribution to the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival. Mrs. Ray picked the five string ‘banjar’ and sang ballads at the festival until after she was ninety. Her son, Byard Ray, is known in the area as King of the Old-Time Fiddle for the devotion he has given to the preservation of old-time music. Photograph courtesy of Daniels Publications.” Photographer Robert H. Lindsey
We recently received this post card donated by Friends of the North Carolina Room Board Member, Michael Reid.
Coverage from the Asheville Citizen of August 9, 1942 explains the “world’s champion” designation: “The Plantation Dance team, winning over all competition for the third consecutive night, was declared ‘champions of the world in square dancing’ as the climax of the annual Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, at McCormick Field last night. This team is directed by Bill Green and dances to the music of Grover Stewart and his Sunset Ramblers.” Over the “Place Stamp Here” spot someone has written the date 9/07/1943 and the name Schwartz. The Plantation dance hall is first listed in the 1943 Asheville City Directory. Managed by George M. White, the dance hall appears to be located in the warehouse of The Frank Silverman Salvage Company.
Post by Zoe Rhine, Librarian