HeardTell: The North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library

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Twilight of a Neighborhood: Asheville’s East End circa 1970

In June 2007 Pack Library acquired the negatives of more than 500 black and white photos taken by Andrea Clark in the late 1960s.

Andrea’s grandfather James Vester Miller was a brick mason and contractor whose construction company built many Asheville churches, homes and public buildings.  Andrea grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and moved to Asheville when she was in her twenties.  She lived on Valley Street with her father James Howard Clark, son of James Miller.  Andrea began taking photographs of the segregated neighborhood known as East End.  Her subjects, accepting her as one of their own, allowed her to look unblinking into their faces and their homes.

The 1970s were a time of great change in Asheville.  Attempting to integrate social and cultural institutions and to improve living conditions in the Black community, the City of Asheville, with Federal assistance, began an ambitious program of Urban Renewal.  Hundreds of homes in the Black community around Valley Street were removed, and residents of that area were scattered across the city.  Sadly, along with deteriorating houses, the East End community also lost beloved neighborhood schools, Black-owned businesses, and a nurturing sense of community.  Andrea Clark’s powerful images document that African-American community and preserve a place and way of life that no longer exists.

Can you identify the people or places in the photos with missing captions? Please contact us at library@buncombecounty.org or 250-4740 and help us preserve the history of the East End.

5 comments on “Twilight of a Neighborhood: Asheville’s East End circa 1970

  1. Rhonda
    September 8, 2016

    I have to find a picture of my Dad’s Jewelry store across from YMI.

  2. Rhonda
    September 8, 2016

    I have to find a picture of my Dad’s Jewelry store across from YMI.
    Oops gone by 1970’s

  3. Evelyn Maffett Smith
    July 29, 2017

    This is great. My hometown. Great memories.

  4. Reginald
    July 31, 2017

    Great job thanks for the pictures.

  5. Virginia Gibson
    August 3, 2017

    one lady was miss labeled her name is Josey McCullum she is a family member she sat on that nporch every day. She worked at Asheville Laundry until she got burned on her lower extremeties and couldn’t get around any more.. Thats Aunt Joe They got her labeled as Minnie Lynch.

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