Where Research is a Delight!
As I began to create a record for this postcard purchased recently on eBay, I got that funny sensation that comes when one of the photos begins to speak.
The Craftsman Style bungalow was built around 1907 and featured the cedar shingle exterior popular until the 1930’s. I know from my own home how hard the big old house must have been to heat. There probably wasn’t any insulation in the walls or attic, and the coal-burning stoker heat Miss Price advertised proudly on her postcard was no longer the latest thing. One by one, the remaining old homes on Merrimon Avenue were being replaced by new, more energy efficient commercial structures. In the early 1980’s, Miss Price’s Tourist Home was torn down and replaced by a one-story three-unit office building. Since then many businesses have come and gone in the space.
I was curious about Miss Leone Price and followed her in Asheville city directories from 1925 when she moved to 333 Merrimon Avenue, until 1968 when she was no longer listed, leaving the house temporarily vacant. For more than forty years, Miss Price’s home provided not only shelter, but also a lifetime income. Over the years she transitioned from a boarding house offering furnished rooms to a tourist home she called “Holiday Inn,” probably after the 1942 Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire musical of that name.
Because I was in the right place at the right time, I was able to save two things from the old house… a couple of faded old signs that I found in a trash heap at the back of the property. For years I have displayed these signs proudly in my home, a reminder of the days when a dollar bought so much more than it does today. The signs are also a reminder of times when homes in some Asheville neighborhoods had no indoor bathroom, and a private bath in a boarding house would be quite a luxury.
The NC Collection is full of reminders of the old saying, “Change is the only constant in life.” On the other hand, home owners in Miss Price’s old neighborhood continue to rent rooms to supplement their incomes. Maybe some things haven’t changed so much after all. The new wrinkle is that many current Asheville residents are turning to Airbnb and similar online sites to offer vacation rentals in their homes. Would the enterprising Miss Price have learned to use the Internet?
Posted by Betsy Murray