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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.

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Nancy Werking Poling posted an event

Nancy Werking Poling at Black Mountain Library

June 15, 2019 from 3pm to 4pm
Can women rescue the planet from ecological disaster?Nancy Werking Poling will launch her new novel, WHILE EARTH STILL SPEAKS, set in WNC. She'll tell the stories behind the story: How did Mary (more crone than virgin) get into the narrative? And Mary Surratt, a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth?See More
Jun 10
Caroline McIntyre posted events
Apr 29
Rob Neufeld updated their profile
Apr 13
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Flat Rock history via a road

Travelling back in time on a Flat Rock roadby Rob Neufeld             If you walk the one mile length of North Highland Lake Road in Flat Rock, you step nearly 200 years into the past.            At the east end, the 21st century reigns.  Fronting six-lane Spartanburg Highway, a super-Ingles sits above a bog; and a CVS store faces an Octopus Garden smoke shop, a chiropractor, a cell phone provider, and a six-lane avenue to I-26 a mile away .            Neither Ingles nor CVS carries the big…See More
Apr 8
George Ellison left a comment for Renea Winchester
"luv ya Renea ... Kephart bio finally done after 40 years ... free at last ... free at last... great god almighty ... free a last!"
Apr 5
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event
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Connie Regan-Blake Storytelling at Hendersonville Public Library at Henderson County Public Library - Main Branch

June 13, 2019 from 6pm to 7pm
Join Connie Regan-Blake for a family oriented evening of stories at the Hendersonville Library.See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake’s 14th Annual Summer Storytelling Retreat & Adventure at StoryWindow Productions

July 14, 2019 at 10am to July 20, 2019 at 4pm
Come to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville for 7 days of story-listening & story-telling along with coaching, community & supportive exploration. This 14th annual workshop welcomes all levels of expertise, from beginner to experienced teller. Participants discover ways of being in the world that nurture your creative flow while developing skills to: Find, create, learn, and polish storiesEffectively integrate voice with image,…See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake presents A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 6, 2019 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Please join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her workshop participants in an enchanting evening of storytelling in “A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories.” Here are the tellers for our April 6th “Slice of Life” performance.  Christine Phillips Westfeldt, Kyra Freeman, Steve Tate, Alberta Hipps and more! The event is hosted by the …See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake's Taking Your Story to the Stage Workshop at StoryWindow Productions

April 5, 2019 to April 7, 2019
The focus of this “Taking Your Story to the Stage” 3-day workshop is on storytelling performance. Each participant is asked to come with a story that is almost “stage-ready.” Set in Connie’s home tucked in the beautiful mountains surrounding Asheville, NC, this workshop provides a supportive,…See More
Apr 1
Rap Monster posted a blog post

Stealth Hazy - 'Gun Clap'

Stealth Hazy - Gun ClapI got 80 rounds with a beam on it riding dirty I'm smoking chronic top off hear that system pound 808 thats subsonicI double down quadruple upstraight droppin with no cutwilt chamberlain on the reboundand you a fan just starstruckI…See More
Mar 26
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Connie Regan-Blake’s 14th Annual Summer Storytelling Retreat & Adventure at StoryWindow Productions

July 14, 2019 at 10am to July 20, 2019 at 4pm
Come to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville for 7 days of story-listening & story-telling along with coaching, community & supportive exploration. This 14th annual workshop welcomes all levels of expertise, from beginner to experienced teller. Participants discover ways of being in the world that nurture your creative flow while developing skills to: Find, create, learn, and polish storiesEffectively integrate voice with image,…See More
Mar 2
Sue Diehl shared their event on Facebook
Feb 8
Sue Diehl posted an event
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Montreat College Friends of the Library Celebrate National Library Week at Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College, Montreat, NC

April 9, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm
Patti Callahan, author of the recent novel Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and Don W. King author of Out of My Bone: the Letters of Joy Davidman, A Naked Tree: Love Sonnets to C. S. Lewis, and Yet One More Spring: a Critical Study of Joy Davidman, will co-present on their works about Joy and her husband C.S. Lewis.  The event is free and open to the public on April 9, 2019 in Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College.Reception and Book signing to followSee More
Feb 8
William Roy Pipes posted a discussion

TWO NEW APPALACHIAN NOVELS

I have, just released two Appalachian Novels.OUT OF THE SHADOWS, begins deep in the Appalachian Mountains of in WNC. It is partly a true story about a young man who ran away from home at the age of fifteen. He meets another runaway, and they fall in love.A journey where he faced adversaries, but also success as he walked, hitchhiked, and made his way across the country.GONE LIKE A CANDLE IN THE WIND, is a story of three young people growing up in a farming community in the Appalachian…See More
Jan 28
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Main Show

The Main Show: a story-poem stage presentation(part of  Living Poem)See video of Act 1, Scene 1: The SettingPrologue Narrator:   Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and in our…See More
Jan 26
Don Talley posted a discussion

Hollywood Pictures Inc in Fairview

In the 1920's it seemed the whole country was caught up in excitement about films and Hollywood.    Asheville and Western North Carolina were well aware of the hoopla of Hollywood.   In fact, Hollywood (or at least filmmaking) was already beginning to come to Western NC.I recently stumble across an article from the Jun 6 1926 issue of The Asheville Citizen Times which mentions that Hollywood Pictures Inc, was planning to film just south of Asheville, near Fairview.  But....was this really…See More
Jan 23

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.

 

 

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