Will Obama Become Our Next Arts & Crafts President?
The rumors are swirling around Asheville.
The White House staff has announced that President and Mrs. Obama are planning a weekend escape to the North Carolina mountains this coming weekend.
And if the reports are true, the president and first lady will be sequestered away in the historic Grove Park Inn, the country’s most famous Arts & Crafts resort and site of our annual Arts & Crafts Conference and Antiques Show.
Candidate Obama campaigned in Asheville in October of 2008 and stayed an unprecedented four days while he prepared for the presidential debates. According to mayor Terry Bellamy, “He said then that he liked Asheville and that he would return.” On that trip Obama made an unscheduled stop into 12 Bones, Asheville’s popular barbeque joint that has basted in presidential publicity ever since.
Asheville has been a retreat for presidents and presidential candidates for more than a century. The first and, perhaps, the only Arts & Crafts president Teddy Roosevelt came to Asheville in September of 1902, ten years before construction began on the Grove Park Inn. An avid environmentalist and sportsman, Roosevelt gained even more notoriety that same year when, on a bear hunt in the Adirondacks, he refused to shoot an old female bear the hunt organizer had chained to a tree just for the president.
Woodrow Wilson met his first wife in Asheville, Calvin Coolidge sought refuge here from presidential pressures, Herbert Hoover visited his son who was recuperating from tuberculosis in a cabin near the Grove Park Inn, and Franklin Roosevelt stayed here while campaigning in 1936.
This week the dogwood blossoms are in bloom, the tulips have opened and the Blue Ridge Mountains have turned green – Arts & Crafts green.
One would be hard pressed to find a place more beautiful – or more fitting – for a presidential weekend than the Grove Park Inn.