Saturday, April 17, 2010

S&W Cafeteria (Asheville)

According to an article in the Citizen-Times (16 April 2010), the commercial portion of the S&W Cafeteria building (Haywood and Patton) is back on the market. The S&W Cafeteria was a community gathering place for decades, operating 1929-74. The building, designed by Douglas Ellington, had sat empty for several years before current owner Steve Moberg bought it in 2007.

The S&W Cafeteria was built at 52-58 Patton Ave. from 1927-1928. S&W Cafeteria was Dale's Cafeteria in the 1940's then went back to S&W Cafeteria in 1945. The S&W Cafeteria was a very popular place to eat until it changed locations in 1974. The plaque on the sidewalk facing the cafeteria reads: "Considered by many as architect Douglas Ellington's most outstanding design, the S&W Building was constructed for a pioneering cafeteria chain in 1929. Ellington wrote that the art deco facade and interior had the deliberate 'note of gaiety' appropriate for this popular gathering place." The S&W Cafeteria was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

"Architect Douglas D. Ellington's (1886-1960) most refined example of the Art Deco style, the S&W Cafeteria (1929), is a colorful, carefully detailed composition of glazed terra cotta panels, slate, glass, and wrought iron topped by a crenelated parapet of green and blue tiles. The brightly colored facade and richly decorated interior dining rooms provided a thoroughly modern venue for the new restaurant type in Asheville."

See: North Carolina Architects & Builders.

The following is from Cabins & Castles: The History & Architecture of Buncombe County, North Carolina, Douglas Swaim (1981) at 93:

More than sixty-five buildings in downtown Asheville date from the twenties decade. . . . In the second "great rebuilding" (the first was in the 1890s) was cast an ebullient image of Asheville's future, an image sponsored by a mushrooming population, a frenzied marketplace, and a remarkably cosmopolitan air. Fancifully, if traditionally, ornamented skyscrapers designed by the talented corps of architects drawn here by the boom rewrote the skyline announcing new commercial standards as well as the bloated values of downtown real estate. . . .

One will recall that a new courthouse (the county's seventh) had been constructed on College Street in 1903 leaving architect J. A. Tennent's Victorian Romanesque city hall the focus of an enlarged, and renamed "Pack" Square. In 1926 construction began on the city hall component of the new government center, which once again leap-frogged its way east from the original center of town. Architect Douglas Ellington designed the new City Building in a colorfeast of Art Deco and stylized local motifs. The daring composition won him national recognition but lost him the commission from the conservative county for a new court house.


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