Affiliated Networks


Forum

Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25, 2017.

Badge

Loading…

Latest Activity

Ann Miller Woodford updated their profile
Friday
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Cherokee and the Colonists

The Epic of the Cherokee and the Colonists            Hernando De Soto stopped in Asheville in 1541            When the Spanish conquistador came through here on his way from the Gulf Coast to Lake Michigan, he encountered big towns, well-used roads, and abandoned homes.   A smallpox epidemic—one of a series of plagues…See More
Friday
Connie Regan-Blake posted events
Aug 3
Literacy Council of Buncombe Co. posted an event
Thumbnail

11th Annual Authors for Literacy Dinner & Silent Auction at Crowne Plaza Resort Expo Center

November 29, 2018 from 6pm to 9pm
New York Times bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver will keynote the Literacy Council of Buncombe County’s 11th Annual Authors for Literacy Dinner & Silent Auction on November 29, 2018. Barbara Kingsolver is the author of nine bestselling works of fiction, including the novels, Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, and The Poisonwood Bible, as well as books of poetry, essays, and the influential nonfiction bestseller Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. She has won or been a finalist…See More
Jul 16
Rap Monster updated their profile
Jun 13
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan Featured at High Country Writers Meeting at Watauga County Public Library

June 14, 2018 from 10am to 12pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be the featured presenter at the High Country Writers Meeting on June 14, 10 a.m.-12 noon at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone. She will discuss her inspirations and the process of becoming a published author. She will present readings from her latest books A Part of Me and A Place That Was Home and give a preview of her forthcoming poetry collection A Neighborhood Changes. A book signing will follow her presentation.See More
Jun 7
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted a photo
Jun 4
Julia Nunnally Duncan updated their profile
Jun 4
Jane Blue shared a profile on Facebook
May 31
Rap Monster posted a blog post

Rapmonster.com ~ Join Our Digital Streaming Platform For Unsigned Hip Hop Artists

Hip hop artists can now sign up for a PRO UNLIMITED PLUS account. Get unlimited space to upload higher quality 320kbps MP3's, receive 2-3 radio spins a day on http://RapMonsterRadio.com  along with weekly blog promotion posts on over 65 hip hop websites.…See More
May 30
Rap Monster posted a blog post

#RapMonsterRadio Will Interview You On Our Hip Hop Rap Radio Station

Get interviewed by Lil Dee of Rap Monster Radio.  Rap Monster Radio is an online hip hop radio station with more than 60,000 listeners a month in over 180 countries.We will interview and provide you with an mp3 copy of the interview.Get the worldwide exposure you deserve.…See More
May 17
Caroline McIntyre posted events
May 4
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
Thumbnail

A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 21, 2018 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 7:30 pm, join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her "Taking the Stage" workshop participants, for an enchanting evening of storytelling in picturesque Black Mountain, NC. You'll enjoy a variety of stories and storytelling styles featuring tellers Jane O Cunningham from Rome, GA; Gabriele Marewski from Black Mountain, NC; Christine Phillips Westfeldt - Fairview,…See More
Mar 21
Glenda Council Beall posted a blog post

Writers Circle around the Table

We are located in Hayesville, NC. In April we begin our new season with outstanding Poet Mike James. Mike will read at Writers' Night Out in Blairsville, GA on Friday evening April 13. On Saturday, April 14, he will teach a class at my studio.Formally SpeakingThis class will focus on different types of traditional poetic forms such as the sonnet, the villanelle, and the sestina, and will also include other verse forms such as erasures, found poems, prose poems, and last poems.Contact Glenda…See More
Mar 12
Caroline McIntyre posted an event
Thumbnail

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring Chautauqua History Alive at UNC Asheville, OLLI Reuters Center, Manheimer Room

April 15, 2018 from 3pm to 4:30pm
Step inside the revolutionary book, Silent Spring as its author Rachel Carson reveals the reckless destruction of our living world. Written more than 55 years ago Silent Spring inspired the Environmental Movement and has never been out of print. And now you have a chance to ask the author, Rachel Carson, how this came to be. But these aren’t just performances. They’re a chance to step into Living History – to ask questions and go one on one with a women whose books shaped our country and our…See More
Mar 7
Lynn Hamilton-Rutherford posted blog posts
Mar 7

The Douglas Ellington effect: An Appreciation

by Rob Neufeld

IMAGE: Douglas Ellington’s original drawing for a City Hall-County Courthouse Art Deco complex.

            “Dear Douglas,” Kenneth Ellington wrote his brother, the 38-year old Pittsburgh architect, on May 6, 1925, “I know things are going to ‘break’ beautifully for you within a fairly short period.  Just hold a high head, and all will be well.”

            Just two weeks before, Douglas Ellington had spent a few days in Asheville, staying at the George Vanderbilt Hotel on Haywood Street, in order to make a presentation to the building committee of the city’s First Baptist Church.  Supplied with a portfolio that Kenneth had prepared for him, he made his case.  At one point, he flipped over a photo of his completed Maute Theater in Irwin, Pennsylvania, to sketch a church design on the back.

            He’d get the contract and his deserved break.

            “Ellington,” Kenneth had informed a Virginia Beach hotel developer he was soliciting on behalf of Douglas, “is one of the finest designing architects in America, having won the Paris Prize [from the Society of Beaux Arts Architects in America], which gave him free study in the Beaux Arts school in Paris and travel throughout Europe for a period of three years.”  While there, he won the top design prize,” and is the only American that has ever won this prize.”

            Yet, in January 1925, Douglas had still been hustling to get paid by a theater-builder who had kept Ellington’s designs and changed architects; and Kenneth was peppering the east coast with proposals. 

 

The artist gene

 

            Douglas and Kenneth grew up on a farm in Clayton, North Carolina, a town that Kenneth’s daughter, the late painter Sallie Middleton, compared to Mayberry when I spoke with her in 2000. 

            The boys’ mother, Sallie Williamson Ellington, died at age 36, when Douglas and Kenneth had been 15 and 13.  She’d been laid low by consumption, contracted, it was believed, from a beggar woman whom she had tried to rescue.

            Douglas had inherited his mom’s looks and artistic personality.  “He was like an innocent child,” Middleton said.  His playfulness along with his acute sense of color and his love of found materials became his hallmarks.

            Kenneth shared his brother’s traits to the extent that he could provide inspiration and support.  Middleton recalls how she had once asked her father to help her decide why her painting of an old apple orchard did not seem quite right.  He looked at the painting, “rays of pride” emanating from him, and then “he walked out of the room.  Sometime later, he came back with a curled, yellow, worm-eaten apple tree leaf and laid it on a spot—and that was the answer.”

            For Douglas Ellington, artistic sensitivity could be painful.  “His eyes,” Middleton reflected, were “dark and brooding, but when lit up with joy, there was a red light in the middle.”   

            He carried colors and lines around in his head, she said, as did her sister, who drove house painters crazy trying to eliminate ghosts of wrong hues from her house walls.

            Once, when Douglas had to have a surface painted according to a client’s jarring concept, he added a “soupcon of purple in the yellow” to please himself without alerting the client.

            Many of Ellington’s great buildings feature strikingly original color schemes.  He’s also celebrated for his use of natural materials (such as stonework in residences); organic masses (see the Asheville High School and the Merrimon Avenue Fire Station); and Art Deco motifs (see the S&W Cafeteria).

            The fire-flash purple, brown, red, ochre, and verdigris-green clay tiles on the roof of the First Baptist Church simulate, in an impressionistic way, aging effects on the copper dome of a Florence cathedral. 

            The bottom-to-top progression of pinks and rose reds in Asheville’s City Hall represents the gradation of color in the region’s soil. 

            When Rose Brown threw Ellington the challenge that he couldn’t build her a nice-looking house out of cinder blocks at 24 Kimberly Avenue, he incorporated bands of red brick in the walls to produce a vernacular Moorish pattern.

             Ellington built his own home at the end of Chunn’s Cove Road out of materials salvaged from other projects, including bricks still showing traces of painted advertisements.  He built it without a set of plans.  “Architectural Digest” celebrated it as the most significant residence in the country in 1932.

            In 1928., despite his monumental successes in Asheville, his plans for a County Courthouse that would complement the City Hall was opposed by certain locals; and Milburn and Heister of Washington D.C. rushed in to take the contract.  The firm ultimately employed Ellington’s plan, except for the Art Deco details, and featured a mash of classical column types.  Mayor John Cathey, a major Ellington booster, was devastated by the loss of the unified plaza, which also included a Beaux Arts raised park.

            Douglas Ellington died in 1960 of cancer, working on a concept for a mural that, Middleton said, he knew he’d never start.

            “When he was very young, his paintings were dark and brooding,” she recalled, such as “Pittsburgh at night….He had fits of painting, and with each fit, his paintings went lighter and brighter.  Toward the end, his paintings were mostly mists and skies with accents of a twining tree.  His very last painting was not well controlled—a blasting forest fire.”

 

Tour of Ellington buildings in Asheville 

1. Asheville City Hall, 1927.  The Mayan shapes and terra cotta colors were designed to match the mountains.  The trail-blazing Art Deco building followed the landmark Paris exhibition by only two years, and preceded the Chrysler Building in New York and the Buffalo and Kalamazoo City Halls, all more famous trail-blazers.

 

2. S&W Cafeteria, 1929.  Ellington coined the term, “deliberate gaiety,” to describe the façade, composed of polychrome terra cotta imagery, gold leaf and a porthole.  The interior, with its chrome fixtures, evokes a 1920s luxury ocean liner.  In its time, it had been downtown Asheville’s business persons’ lunch spot and family dinner place.

 

3. First Baptist Church, 1926.  The roof tiles are notable, as are the exterior brickwork, and the windows, doors, and interior woodwork.

 

4. Merrimon Ave. Fire Station, 300 Merrimon Ave., 1927.  Called Old Station 4, it incorporated a six-story drill tower and truck company; and now houses the Arson Task Force and Fire Department archives.

 

5. Sanford and Rose Brown House, 24 Kimberly Ave., 1949.  The brick and cinder block invention recreates a “Book of Kells” effect.

 

6. Lewis Memorial Park gate, 415 Beaverdam Rd.  A pleasing mini-Ellington.

 

7, 8, and 9.  472 Chunns Cove Rd., c. 1930; 500 Chunns Cove Rd., c. 1930; and 536 Chunn’s Cove Rd., c. 1926.    Private residences, hidden by trees.

 

10. Ellington House, 583 Chunns Cove Rd., c. 1929.  Ellington built his home around a pre-existing 1850s log cabin; and used scrap materials from previous projects.  The windows are a cabinetmaker’s creation, using cypress.  Ellington employed an atypically large kitchen and a lower level great room as social spaces.

 

11. Asheville High School, 1928.  As with the City Hall and First Baptist Church, Ellington related the building to the mountain landscape. Three wings radiate from a hexagonal tower along the contours of a shallow cove.  The Balfour pink granite for this building came from a quarry near Salisbury.  The interior of the rotunda features a checkerboard brick pattern.

 

12. Biltmore Hospital, 1930, and a 1953 addition for Imperial Life Insurance renovation, 14 All Souls Crescent. 

 

13. Francis Reynolds Oertling House, Reynolds Mountain, 1946.   Sen. Bob Reynolds had the one-story log-and-stone residence with a front stone terrace built for his daughter.

 

14. 128 Windsor Rd., 1948.  Private residence.

 

15. Coggins house, 410 Beaucatcher Rd., 1950.  At the time, George Coggins was trying to buy the West Asheville quarry that he would use as a site for the Westgate Mall.

 

16. 686 Haw Creek Rd., 1948.  Features the rough-sawn wood siding Ellington liked to use on 1940s homes.

 

17. Starnes house, 2 Clarendon Rd., 1952.

 

The Asheville Art Museum has many documents and drawings related to Ellington’s work in Asheville, and they are viewable on the NCSU Libraries’ Digital Program website.

 

Rob Neufeld writes the weekly “Visiting Our Past” column for the Citizen-Times.  He is the author of books on history and literature, and manages the WNC book and heritage website, “The Read on WNC.”  Follow him on Twitter @WNC_chronicler; email him at RNeufeld@charter.net.

 

 

Views: 7

Reply to This

© 2018   Created by Rob Neufeld.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service