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Spooks Branch, a human history story

Spooks Branch was a singular place in settlers’ loreby Rob NeufeldImportant editorial note:This is a significant historical story that is also, in parts, personal and controversial.  It is about a few families who settled a particular cove and played out their heroic and complex legacies in ways that interacted with place and time.  You don't read this kind of story much because people don't like to expose themselves or stir up trouble, even a little.  This caution makes history classes boring…See More
Dawn Trowell Jones updated their profile
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Rise of Asheville by Marilyn Ball

History of the "Asheville 1000" and the 1970s renaissance                       Let’s not miss the history of Asheville’s renaissance, Marilyn Ball’s new book, “The Rise of Asheville,” advocates.            She’d come here in 1977, making her one of the advance guard of “artists, entrepreneurs, and off-the-grid…See More
Nov 20
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Century-ago woman's apple cake recipe

Mmm, them apples in Beaverdam coveIn 1972, Helen Nelon wrote about the traditions of old-time Spooks Branch, off Beaverdam Road.  Here's what she said about her use of apples in a cake.(The full story of Spooks Branch will appear soon.)There were apples for delicious cider cooled in the spring "dreem" (drain), apples for frying for cold winter days, and for special days there were dried apple sauce fruit cakes.These cakes were made of very thin, sweet dough with dried apple sauce spread between…See More
Nov 18
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Nov 16
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Dignity is the key to Richard Russo's inspiration

So funny, and yet so exposing--Richard Russo's geniusSnakes on the lane            In Richard Russo's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Empire Falls, the protagonist, Miles recalls the time his father, driving, had accelerated into a box on a highway.  “What if that box had been full of rocks?” Miles asks.  Unfazed, Max quizzes his son about what he would do about the box.  Max says he'd stop and look in it,  “What if it was full of rattlesnakes? “ his father asks.            The verbal match…See More
Nov 14
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Nov 13
Rob Neufeld commented on Mark de Castrique's video
Nov 12
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Humanize the history--especially with Civil War--writes acclaimed author

Writer illuminates tangled web of Civil Warby Rob Neufeld             David Madden has written a book, “The Tangled Web of the Civil War and Reconstruction,” that deserves special attention.            First, there’s Madden’s background.  In 1992, he founded the U.S. Civil War Center in New…See More
Nov 12
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Nov 11
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Nov 10
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Coming attraction--Singleton at Malaprop's & City Lights for Calloustown

George Singleton's latest collection of stories, Calloustown...features the folk who try to survive in a place that has little to offer besides a Finger Museum and a taxidermy petting zoo,It's funny, but also tragic and angry.  The review, "Love-hate humor cries in Calloustown," appears in the Asheville Citizen-Times, Sunday, 11/15/2015.  Singleton's at Malaprop’s Bookstore, 7 p.m., Wed., Nov. 18; and at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, 3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21.Here's an excerpt from the…See More
Nov 10
Lockie Hunter posted an event

Juniper Bends Quarterly Reading at DownTown Books & News

November 13, 2015 from 7pm to 8pm
Our very special Autumnal edition starts at 7PM and is sure to be a lively and vibrant set, with featured writers Randi Janelle, Tina FireWolf, Logan Parker, and Annabelle Crowe. Two of our readers have new books out, and as always there is wine flowing by donation. Hosts Lockie Hunter and Caroline Wilson look forward to seeing you there----remember, your wellbeing depends upon it.See More
Nov 9
Martha Arrowood Pelc posted a photo

Love and Mercy ~ Up On Roan Mountain

My family lived and loved up on Roan Mountain and in the surrounding mountain areas, and this is their story. It's woven into a tapestry that weaves down through the years, before the days of the Civil War and up to present day. They were…
Nov 9
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

It's All Relative--50 WNC women write about family

Family life as perceived by 50 WNC authorsby Rob Neufeld             If you have biases against small press books or anthologies of local writers’ work, I recommend you lay them aside and take a look at “It’s All Relative” (Stone Ivy Press), 52 stories and poems by 50 WNC women authors writing about family.           …See More
Nov 6

Ornament in Asheville—a pictorial survey

by Rob Neufeld


            In the urban renewal era, Asheville followed the modern trend away from ornament in architecture.  The Akzona Building (now the Biltmore Building) and the Northwestern Bank Building (now BB&T) preferred exteriors that expressed structure rather than symbolism.


(Photo 1.  Biltmore Building and BB&T.)


             In the postmodern era—that’s today, still—ornament has returned in two ways: with simplified references to historical motifs; and with new age, art-nouveau-like fantasias.

            The significance of the old ways is that people who had cared about style had connected to the classical and medieval concepts of a golden age.  The Grove Arcade, for example, puts on the clothing of a Venetian palace.  The misnamed griffins at the south entrance are Venetian winged lions.  They don’t have an eagle’s beak and talons.

            But Grove might be considered postmodern, too, in the way he combined and simplified styles.  His Italian plasterers had at their disposal a Sears catalog-type of architectural options.

            The window arches on the top level, for instance, are French.  The heart motif in the cornice atop the first floor balconies are of no classical origin.  And, of course, the most prominent feature, “GROVE,” is pure modern empire.


(Photo 2.  Grove Arcade emblems.)


(Photo 3.  S&W Cafeteria entrance detail.)


            The Art Deco ornamentation on Douglas Ellington’s S&W Cafeteria, a building contemporary with the Grove Arcade, is truer to sources, and incorporates into its vocabulary Aztec, Egyptian, and machine age imagery and style.  


(Photo 4.  Drhumor building  east side detail.)


           Just down Patton Ave. from the S&W in Asheville is the Drhumor Building, now the law offices of McGuire, Wood & Bissette.  Its frieze, carved into stone by Biltmore Estate stonecarver Frederic Miles, reveals an artist’s freedom in incorporating classical motifs—the Greek acanthus leaf; the Roman half-figure; the Renaissance mask—into a dynamic, narrative design.



            The Biltmore House’s French Renaissance influence on local architecture, along with its English cottage and Arts and Crafts influence in Biltmore Village, are major reference points for Asheville.  Builders and designers in the region know, when they create ornament, what local traditions they are tapping.

            The courtyard at the south wing of the Biltmore House features a number of richly decorated columns, including one that features French fleur-de-lis.


(Photo 5.  Biltmore House decorated column.)

(Photo 6.  Grand Bohemian column capital.)


            One of the newest ambitious uses of decoration is evident at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Biltmore Village.  The columns in the lobby, for example, combine a Germanic woodcarving style with stylized classical motifs in an original way, evoking a luxury hunting lodge.


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