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.

14 thoughts on “Twilight of a Neighborhood: Asheville’s East End circa 1970

  1. Virginia Gibson says:

    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.

  2. Cheryl Bridges says:

    I remember all of this area as a child to growing into a young woman. I see faces of people I have long forgotten their names. Thank you for preserving these memories.

  3. Aaron Rhodes says:

    Amazing. I grew up in Asheville. My parents moved the family to Los Angeles in 1969. My father the Late James E. Rhodes passed 19 years ago grew up in that area. I’m sure my mother remembers the area. I will surely forward to her. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Phillip Williams says:

    Wow – I remember going thru there several times back in the late 60’s – early 70’s. It was a rundown old neighborhood – but I always wondered why the City didn’t try to refurbish and improve what was there instead of tearing it all down…

  5. David Ferguson says:

    Remember the section my father is in one picture a city that looked out for each other it was a place where you was safe everyone looked out for each other it was a rich environment with many friends and loved ones it was. Neighborhood or a village

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