Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Langren Hotel Site

"Portrait of the Past: Asheville’s Langren Hotel"

News of the hotel that BB&T Building owners plan to build on the site of the related parking garage, on Broadway Street, evokes former hotels at that spot.

The first was the Buck Hotel, built by James McConnell Smith in 1825, according to several sources. Hanging "very high between two immense posts," a "citizen" recalled in a 1906 issue of the Asheville Gazette-News was "an immense stag with his head erect, bearing aloft the finest pair of antlers I have ever seen … Many times have I listened to its creaking as it was set in motion by the wind." The Buck was a drover’s inn.

The Langren (pictured here), which replaced it, was for 20th century businessmen, distinguishing it from the Battery Park and Vanderbilt Hotels, which appealed to tourists.

The Langren's completion, on July 4, 1912, followed the five years it took to settle Smith's estate and benefited from financing by Gay Green and John H. Lange, from whom the hotel got its name. It was fireproof, making early use of reinforced concrete, purchased from C.H. Miller's plant on Spruce Street. The BB&T razed it in 1964.

Source: "Portrait of the Past: Asheville’s Langren Hotel" by Rob Neufeld, Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, North Carolina), 19 June 2014.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Asheville Has Few Landmarks 1902

"Asheville A New City, And Has Few Landmarks"

Asheville Daily Gazette, Saturday, 19 July 1902

It was the original intention to have this article deal entirely with the building landmarks of Asheville. In collecting information for the subject it was found that inasmuch as there now stand only two buildings within the city's limits that have the distinction of being landmarks, correctly speaking, that mention of other than historic structures of "ye olden times" would necessarily have to be brought into use to make anything like an interesting story.

Asheville is the newest town in North Carolina of any importance. It has grown faster than any other and continues to do so. Sixty years ago there were only 200 white people in Asheville and 300 negroes. In 1880 there were 2000. In 1890, 9000 and 1900, 15000.

There have been more houses built within the last two years than ever before within the same length of time. One may visit any town of importance in the state and have pointed out to them homes and places of business that have been standing hundreds of years and over. Such is not the case in Asheville. Two buildings, one on North Main and College streets and one near the corner of Eagle and South Main streets are the only buildings standing that were here sixty years ago.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Buck Hotel: Passing of Old Tavern

"Buck Hotel," The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina), Sunday, 4 March 1906, Page 1

Passing of Old Tavern. The Buck, Asheville's Oldest Hotel, to Give Place to Modern Six-Story Hostelry.

Asheville, March 1. -- The old buck Hotel and the wooden structure adjoining are going. The work of tearing away these old landmarks was undertaken this morning. The work is in charge of McDowell & Spears and will consume probably two weeks. The buildings are located on North Main street in the very centre of Asheville and were built more than half a century ago. They are to be replace by a handsome and modern hotel of six stories of frame steel and concrete reinforcement with a roof-garden. The removal of the Buck Hotel means the passing of an ancient landmark; the taking away of the oldest structure in the city and a structure withal around which hovered much that had to do with Asheville when the city was a mere burg. The Buck Hotel at one time was a principal tavern in western North Carolina. It was for years conspicuous by a unique sign denoting its name--the antlers and head of a great buck. The removal of the Buck Hotel has been threatened for many years. It was some ten years ago that rumor had it the Buck was to go. This rumor inspired Will Aiken, now private secretary to the Governor of Montana, but then doing newspaper work in Asheville, to write what was declared to be the best story of the day. The story had to do with a "convention of bed bugs" held in the Buck Hotel "for the purpose of discussing the cruel report of destruction." But now the old landmark is assuredly going. Already portions of the buildings have been torn down and before the middle of the month all that will remain of the famous tavern will be piles of dust-covered timbers and soft-clay bricks. The tavern in the days before the war housed many prominent men. The Buck was the stopping place of hot and cattle drivers that passed through Asheville with great droves of animals before the days of the railroad. At that time there were great vacant stretches of land surrounding the tavern. This land was fenced and into these enclosures were fed great droves of hogs and cattle every night and day. It was a well-known stopping place for the drivers and usually these men spent the night at the tavern.

The building that will replace the old tumble-down frame structure will be a modern and commodious hotel. The hotel will be erected by C. H. Miller in charge of the Smith estate. It will be a thing of beauty and credit to Asheville. Plans for the building as accepted were drawn by Architect R. S. Smith of Asheville. The structure will be six stories in height with a frontage on North Main street of 128 feed and 129 feet on West College. It will cost about $125,000.

There will be 158 bedrooms, with telephone service in every room, two passenger elevators, a dining room to seat 200 persons, and 60 baths. There will also be an independent electric-light plant. One feature of the building will be a court with a glass roof which will extend from the main floor to the roof and the arrangements of rooms so that each room will be bounded by a corridor. On the sixth floor will be a ball-room, with a roof garden. Flowers and potted plants will find place on and around the roof garden and the whole structure will present an artistic appearance. There will be no bar-room in the building.

Asheville Public Houses History

"Four Public Houses," Asheville Citizen, Saturday, 5 February 1893, Page 1

John Carson Estate Settlement 1841

John Carson (1752-1841)

Moses Smith Farm Sale 1856

Moses Smith Farm for Sale, Asheville News (Asheville, North Carolina), Thursday, 21 August 1856, Page 1

"Queer" Found at Old Buck Hotel 1906

News and Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina), Wednesday, 7 March 1906, Page 1

Smith & Chapman

Smith & Chapman Store, Asheville News (Asheville, North Carolina), Thursday, 27 August 1857, Page 1

Uncle Alfred Walker

Uncle Alfred Walker. He Has Lived in or Near Asheville for 72 Years.

There walked into The Citizen office the other day a gray haired darkey who, on account of his age and past affiliations, deserves a place in the Centenary number of The Citizen. The man was Alfred Walker, who has watched the passing of 72 years, and who was reared by James M. Smith, the first white child born west of the Blue Ridge mountains. Alfred has had a varied career, having served through the war and at last become a minister of the gospel, in the Baptist faith. He lives near Emma, on the Murphy branch of the Southern, but does not come to town often, on account of his health, which is not what it used to be. Some years ago, however, he was engaged in peddling about town.

"Uncle" Alfred, when he looks upon the substantial paving of Asheville's streets, chuckles to himself over the thought that he was the pioneer in putting down pavements -- "palements," he says. He constructed a walk of cobblestones in front of the Buck hotel on North Main, carting the stones from the hill now crowned by the Battery Park hotel. Speaking of the Buck hotel--which in his young days was the only hostelry in the town, Walker says: "It's nothing but a log house, covered with planks, and it wouldn't fall down in a thousand years. And they's millions o' rats in it; not thousands, but millions."

The spot now occupied by Geo. F. Scott & Co.'s lumber yard on College street can claim the distinction of being Walker's birth place. That far back this country had not arrived at the dignity of flails for threshing purposes, but the operation of separating the wheat berry from the stalk was carried out thus, as Walker describes it: The wheat was placed on the floor of the barn, several horses were rough shod and boys put on their backs to guide them around the room until the wheat had been tramped out. Flax trousers and flax dresses were the height of fashion, and shoes were an unknown quantity except on rare occasions, so Walker says.

"There's not a darkey of my set here now," he says; "I'm the only one left of my master's 500. If times were like they were then and my old master was back here, I'd rather be with him than to be free. He raised me to be truthful and honest, and I never had a mark on my back. Ca'se why? When he tole me to do anything I went right now and done it."

Walker served through the war in the Union army, Bartley's Tennessee regiment, and was mustered out at Knoxville. He is expecting a pension any day. He says people ask him how it is that he can preach although unable to read. "Then I asks, Who teached the fust man? Jesus Christ. Well, I've got religion: I know it; it keeps a-growing, and I'm richer than Vanderbilt, if he ain't got it."

Source: Asheville Citizen (Asheville, North Carolina), Saturday, 5 February 1898.

Asheville Hotels 1871

"Asheville Hotels," Weekly Pioneer, Thursday, 7 September 1871

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Western North Carolina Oral Histories

Oral History Collections   

Special Collections' oral histories contain a wealth of local history and cultural information about Asheville and Western North Carolina. Beginning with two major oral history collections, the Southern Highlands Research Center Oral History collection and the Voices of Asheville Project, the Oral History Collections provide unique insight into a broad range of topics including city and county development issues, segregation and integration of Asheville schools, private education in the region, the diversity of religion throughout the area, changes in farming and subsistence strategies, and the histories of various families and organizations in western North Carolina.
Special Collections is the repository of over 500 Oral Histories, comprised of at least ten different oral history projects, each ranging from four or five interviews to over two hundred interviews. The Oral History Collections continue to grow, offering a continuing picture of Western North Carolina.


Special Collections & University Archives
Ramsey at UNC Asheville

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Shelton Laurel Massacre

by David L. Cockrell, 2006

The Shelton Laurel Massacre, which occurred in January 1863, serves as a graphic illustration of the divided loyalties of North Carolinians during the Civil War as well as the tenuous relationship between state and Confederate military authorities. Throughout the war North Carolina's western counties suffered considerable violence and disorder. Strong Unionist sentiment ran through the Mountains, and there was intermittent fighting between residents loyal to the United States and their pro-Confederate neighbors. This situation was reminiscent of the bitter social divisions during the American Revolution. In fact, at times Unionists were referred to as "Tories" by their enemies. Further adding to the chaotic atmosphere were marauding gangs of both Confederate and Union deserters, who took advantage of undermanned local enforcement and a weak Confederate presence to practice rampant banditry and lawlessness.