Wednesday, February 26th, 6:00 until 7:30 PM
Pack Library Lord Auditorium
Rich Mathews, historian and researcher for Mathews Architecture,
will present a slide presentation about the Southside Neighborhood in Asheville
Here Rich gives us a preview of his talk. Join us on Wednesday night for MORE!
I’m a preservationist. I love old buildings and historic neighborhoods.
The common refrain is that old buildings tell the stories of the people who lived in them.
But what do we do when there aren’t any buildings left?
This is the conundrum we face when we consider the Southside neighborhood, just south of downtown Asheville.
Southside Avenue was as vital a business center for the African-American community in Asheville as The Block, the Eagle-Market Streets area downtown. During the East Riverside Redevelopment Project, an urban renewal effort targeting 425 acres from Hilliard Avenue south to Oakland Road, it was completely demolished.
A few facts about the target area:
– 4,800 residents
– 98% “Negro”, ½ of the City’s African-American population
– 8% of City population
– 14% of City’s tuberculosis cases
– 50% of rapes and assaults
– 26% of venereal diseases
– High risk of fire damage
Some of the conditions listed in “A Program for Renewal: Neighborhood Analysis Study” published in 1966 [HACA archives, Ramsey Library]:
* Lack of adequate recreation space including sub-standard conditions at Murray Hill Park, Asheland Avenue Community Center and the Livingston School playground.
* The Metropolitan Area’s highest incidence of social conditions reflecting blight.
* Inappropriately located commercial uses along the major thoroughfares.
* Scattered clusters of overcrowded conditions and high residential densities. Inadequate off-street parking in the residential sections.
* Uncontrolled outside storage in the residential sections and particularly in the northwest industrial sections.
* General obsolescence and ugliness throughout the Study Area.
Sadly, the approach chosen to solve the many problems plaguing Southside resulted in the almost complete demolition of the neighborhood and the emotional and cultural “root shock” suffered by the people there.
“Everyone needs to know their heritage. Everyone needs to know their roots. After all, you cannot fulfill your future unless you honor your past.” ― Chirlane McCray, new First Lady of New York City
Since there are no buildings left to tell the stories of the people, we need to do the obverse and invite the people to tell the stories of the buildings.
Post prepared by Rich Mathews, preservationist and historian; Posted by Betsy Murray