by Bruce Johnson
While Arts and Crafts collectors recognize the 1913 Grove Park Inn as an iconic symbol of the Arts and Crafts movement, the massive granite hotel was not built in a vacuum. As its mortared walls were rising on Sunset Mountain, the surrounding neighborhoods were growing, too, as Arts and Crafts bungalows designed for middle class families also began springing up.
Nestled at the foot of Sunset Mountain, just beyond the Donald Ross golf course, is Norwood Park, every bit as representative of the Arts and Crafts movement as the Grove Park Inn. Like many such cozy neighborhoods, for years it was overlooked as couples flocked to sprawling brick ranch houses built in the suburbs. Today, however, the homes and bungalows in Norwood Park have been lovingly restored by families again drawn to their wide front porches, open floor plans, hardwood floors, and woodburning fireplaces.
As noted by the Asheville Preservation Society, “When lots were initially auctioned off in August of 1914, the neighborhood was advertised as ‘the most ideal location for a residence in the city of Asheville,’ and lauded for its shaded streets lined with well-established trees. Lots sold for an average of $600 to $900. All lots included concrete sidewalks, city water, electric lights, and telephone lines. By 1922 the tract was said to have more building activity than any other section of Asheville; the Asheville Citizen-Times reported that ‘hardly a week passes that ground is not broken for home construction.’”
In conjunction with next week’s 32nd National Arts and Crafts Conference, the Asheville Preservation Society has arranged for special afternoon bus tours to six restored homes in Norwood Park. This unprecedented opportunity to walk through six Arts and Crafts homes, noting the original detailing and creative adaptations by more recent owners, is not one you should miss.
These great tours take place from 1:00-5:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, leaving the Grove Park Inn on busses with tour guides who will immediately begin sharing their stories about the development of Asheville’s Arts and Crafts neighborhoods as the bus starts down Sunset Mountain. The tours are carefully timed not to conflict with any of the conference seminars, and offer you the chance to expand your Arts and Crafts experience beyond the walls of the Grove Park Inn. Your $35 fee will also enable the non-profit Preservation Society to continue to sustain the heritage and sense of place that makes the Asheville area unique and desirable by retaining the character of our community.
And if the thought has crossed your mind that the Asheville area might well be on your short list of places to someday live (which, after 30 years here, I highly recommend), at least one of these bungalows is on the market, and a real estate agent, as well as preservation society docents, will be on hand to answer any questions you have about the local real estate market.
Space on each of the afternoon bus tours is limited, however, so don’t wait until you arrive in Asheville to reserve your spot. In all likelihood, this selection of homes will never be duplicated, so don’t miss the opportunity to come away inspired.
For more information and to take advantage of this personal opportunity while supporting the Preservation Society, just click here now.