Blog :: 02-2011

Blending in Black Mountain

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2/28/2011 - Blending in Black Mountain
by Paul Clark

 

 

"Green and Healthy Built homes are more and more popular in Asheville, and the world, as there is more awareness of our environment and the benefits of conservation. North Carolina is a leading state in America's "greening" and Asheville a model city." - Ben Falcon

 

Home of the Week: The Settings of Black Mountain

Home of the Week: The Settings of Black Mountain: Elizabeth and Bill Green built a sweet little getaway near Black Mountain.

Elizabeth and Bill Green's home is built to blend in with Black Mountain lot. 

Elizabeth and Bill Green's home is built to blend in with Black Mountain lot. / Holli Hartman/hhartman@citizen-times.com

Nuts and bolts

The home: A 3,300-square-foot Arts & Crafts home with four bedrooms a nd four baths at The Settings at Black Mountain.
The homeowners: Elizabeth Green, a retired physical therapist, and Bill Green, an anesthesiologist. They have three standard poodles - Guy, Luci and Sunny.
Defining aspect: Designed as a second home, the house flows comfortably from room to room, achieving a casualness that puts visitors at ease.
Architect: Amy Conner-Murphy, ACM Design PA, Asheville.
Builder: Sean Sullivan, Living Stone Construction, Black Mountain.
Interior: Amy Conner-Murphy, ACM Design PA.
Grounds: Jennifer Brown, Greenmeadow Landscaping, Old Fort.

 Things happen in threes for Elizabeth and Bill Green, who built their third house at The Settings in Black Mountain.

 

 "One of the neat things the architect did was for our dogs," Elizabeth said recently, showing her home to guests. "She said we might want a separate in and out (door) for them, with a shower. That was a great suggestion." 

 

 The architect - Amy Conner-Murphy of Asheville - was one of three principals who worked on the Green house. The other two were builder Sean Sullivan of Living Stone Construction (Black Mountain) and Jennifer Brown of Greenmeadow Landscaping (Old Fort). 

 

 "They all started working together from the beginning," Elizabeth said. Consulting over the slope of the lot, they placed the house and rock walls in the space that makes the best use of the lay of the land, she said. 

 

 "When you see the outside," Bill said, "you see how it blends in with the surroundings." 

 

 "We didn't want it to stand out," Elizabeth said. 

 

Second home, added features

 The Greens live primarily in Cornelius, near Charlotte, where Bill works as an anesthesiologist. They built their home, a gold-level HealthyBuilt Home, in The Settings as a getaway, a place that they plan to be their retirement home. In 2008, the house won first place in the N.C. Home Builders Association STARS Awards in the category of Best Custom House Priced Over $1 million under 5,000 square feet. 

 

 "We love the mountains, and Black Mountain is such a neat town," Elizabeth said. And Asheville's being close by is a bonus. "You walk your dogs, and people are always stopping you," Bill said. 

 

Back up and running

 A temporary loss of power doesn't affect the Greens for long. The gas fireplaces in the master bedroom and living room don't need electricity to work. A generator powers the house when the power goes down, as it did on Christmas Day 2009. "My neighbor looked at us and said, 'that was a good idea,'" Elizabeth said. 

 

Meeting in the kitchen

 Elizabeth likes that when Bill's in the next room working on his computer (a really old, still functional Mac), she's in the kitchen, cooking and (during the regular season, any way), watching their beloved Cleveland Browns on TV. They both like to cook, a passion that in previous residences inevitably had them crowding around the sink. They solved the problem by installing two sinks in this kitchen. 

 

Warm long into the night

 Afternoons find Elizabeth in the living room, quietly reading English mysteries and appreciating the view of the rhododendrons outside. One of the dogs will be curled up in front of the fire, on the little rug on the cork floor. The fieldstone in the fireplace holds the heat far into the night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Asheville area festivals calendar

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2/25/2011 - Asheville area festivals calendar
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 Every year, Asheville NC, hosts a wide variety of music, culture, arts and crafts festivals. During these events Asheville's fine dining and local music are featured. There is something for everybody with events going on in almost all seasons." - Ben Falcon

Heritage Classic DanceSport Championships 2011, begins Tuesday, ends March 5, Grove Park Inn & Resort, 290 Macon Ave. 252-2711. www.groveparkinn.com. For tickets, contact directors Colin and Joy Hillary at 954-757-5101, or visit www.theheritageclassic.com.

 Comedy Classic Weekend, March 11-13, Grove Park Inn, 290 Macon Ave. Weekend includes hosts John Boy and Billy. March 11: Comic Jon Reep. March 12: Comics Tommy Johnagin and Reno Collier. 252-2711. www.groveparkinn.com.

National Quilting Day, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 19, Blue Ridge Mall, Hendersonville. WNC Quilters Guild presents an exhibit of challenge quilts and demos throughout the day. Free. 693-8668.

Super Saturday, March 19, 33rd annual Tryon theatre festival for all ages, including song, dance, puppets, poetry, magic and a parade down Melrose Avenue. $2. www.tryonsupersaturday.com.

ActionFest 2011, action film festival, April 7-10, Carolina Asheville cinemas. www.actionfest.com

Vintage Car Cruise-In, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. April 16, Seventh Avenue district, downtown Hendersonville. Vehicles from Hendersonville's Antique Car Club, music, food.

Hickory Hops craft beer festival, 1-7 p.m. April 16, Union Square, Hickory. $30, $10 designated drivers. No one younger than 21 will be permitted to enter. www.hickoryhops.com.

14th annual French Broad River Festival, April 29-May 1, Hot Springs. Outdoor music festival, with mountain bike races, a kid's village, arts and crafts vendors, outdoor vendors and food. www.frenchbroadriverfestival.com. Tickets are $65 if purchased by April 20, $75 after.

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Just Economics Just Brew It beer festival, May 1, Pack Square Park. Admission by making $15 donation to Just Economics. www.justeconomicswnc.org.

Lake Eden Arts Festival, spring edition, May 12-15, Camp Rockmont, Black Mountain. www.theleaf.org or 686-8724.

Bethlehem Day and Classic Car/Truck Show, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. June 4, Lowe's shopping plaza. Arts, crafts, food. Proceeds benefit the community. Performers and vendors needed. Call 495-2660.

Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival, June 10-11, Harmon Field, Tryon. www.blueridgebbqfestival.com.

Shindig on the Green, free outdoor music shows, 7-10 p.m. Saturdays, Pack Square Park. Shindig performances July 2, 9, 16 and 23, Aug. 13, 20 and 27, Sept. 3. www.folkheritage.org/shindigonthegreen.htm

Bele Chere, July 29-31, downtown Asheville. Music on the streets. www.belecherefestival.com.

Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, 7 p.m. Aug. 4-6, Diana Wortham Theatre, Pack Square, Asheville. Traditional and old-time musicians, ballad singers, mountain dance groups and cloggers. Tickets on sale starting in April. $20, $10 ages 12 and younger, $54 adult three-night package. 257-4530.

Mount Mitchell Crafts Fair, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 5-6, Burnsville town square. Arts, crafts, vendors, food, live music. Free. www.yanceychamber.com.

Just Economics Just Brew It beer festival, May 1, Pack Square Park. Admission by making $15 donation to Just Economics. www.justeconomicswnc.org.

Lake Eden Arts Festival, spring edition, Ma y 12-15, Camp Rockmont, Black Mountain. www.theleaf.org or 686-8724.

Bethlehem Day and Classic Car/Truck Show, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. June 4, Lowe's shopping plaza. Arts, crafts, food. Proceeds benefit the community. Performers and vendors needed. Call 495-2660.

Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival, June 10-11, Harmon Field, Tryon. www.blueridgebbqfestival.com.

Shindig on the Green, free outdoor music shows, 7-10 p.m. Saturdays, Pack Square Park. Shindig performances July 2, 9, 16 and 23, Aug. 13, 20 and 27, Sept. 3. www.folkheritage.org/shindigonthegreen.htm

Bele Chere, July 29-31, downtown Asheville. Music on the streets. www.belecherefestival.com.

Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, 7 p.m. Aug. 4-6, Diana Wortham Theatre, Pack Square, Asheville. Traditional and old-time musicians, ballad singers, mountain dance groups and cloggers. Tickets on sale starting in April. $20, $10 ages 12 and younger, $54 adult three-night package. 257-4530.

Mount Mitchell Crafts Fair, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 5-6, Burnsville town square. Arts, crafts, vendors, food, live music. Free

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Host of This Old House Steve Thomas to Present at Western Carolina Home Show

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2/24/2011 - Host of This Old House Steve Thomas to Present at Western Carolina Home Show
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"Asheville, North Carolina is home to many beautiful homes and many old houses. Whether it is a rustic cabin in the mountains, or a historic bungalow in the city, many homeowners are do-it-yourselfers. There are many resources for home improvement education in the Asheville area, and many smart people taking advantage of it." - Ben Falcon 

 Now in its 36th year, the Western Carolina Home Show will feature Emmy-winning television host Steve Thomas. Thomas is best known for his 14 years as host of the award winning PBS Television series "This Old House". Asheville, North Carolina plays host to the annual home show for thousands of homeowners and do-it-yourselfers looking for what's new in the home building and remodeling industries.

The 36th Annual Western Carolina Home Show, which takes place in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina, is bringing celebrated television personality, Steve Thomas, as keynote speaker for the weekend-long home improvement show.

Steve Thomas is most well known for his 14-year presence on PBS's This Old House. The program, which won 17 Emmy Awards during its run, documented and analyzed progress made during renovations of homes. Thomas's popularity as host of the show helped it grow into a groundbreaking home improvement program. This Old House remains one of PBS's most-watched shows, which is a credit to its knowledgeable and well-loved host.

More recently, Thomas's television resume branched out to the program "Renovation Nation" on the Discovery Communications' Planet Green Network, a channel dedicated to environmental awareness.

Thomas, as an eco-savvy host, took to the road in the home improvement program with an especially green perspective. The show focused on eco-smart improvements, sustainability, energy efficiency and environmentalism. Thomas taught viewers across the nation about practicing a green lifestyle by investigating different examples of green home improvement.

Steve Thomas will address Home Show attendees on Saturday, March 19 at 11:00AM at Asheville's Civic Center. A meet-and-greet session will immediately follow his presentation.

The Western Carolina Home Show remains the region's chief exposition for those interested in innovative home construction and remodeling, and will feature more than 175 companies providing products and services to this market. The Home Show, an annual event since 1976 will be showcased at the Civic Center March 18th through the 20th.

The Home Show runs Friday from 11:00AM to 8:00PM, Saturday from 10:00AM to 8:00PM, and Sunday 11:00AM to 5:00PM.

Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.wnchomeshow.com or at the door each day of the show. Ticket cost is $6.00 each, with children under 12 entering free of charge. The Asheville Civic Center is located at 87 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville.

In addition to exhibits aimed at demonstrating products and services, the Home Show will also hold seminars throughout the weekend.

Contact:

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2 Asheville families get keys to Habitat for Humanity homes in Enka Hills

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2/23/2011 - 2 Asheville families get keys to Habitat for Humanity homes in Enka Hills
by Sandra V. Rodriguez

Town and Mountain Realty supports Habitat for Humanity by volunteering to help build homes for Asheville families in need. These are not vacation or second homes; these are primary residences for people who otherwise would be stuck in the rent cycle. -Ben Falcon

 

Lisa Hartzog Hannah of Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church hands Lina Zuniga-Chan and her daughter, Nicole, the key to their new home in Enka Hills.

 

Lisa Hartzog Hannah of Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church hands Lina Zuniga-Chan and her daughter, Nicole, the key to their new home in Enka Hills. / Special to the Citizen-Times

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Asheville's Montford Park Players bring British class to Masonic theater

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2/22/2011 - Asheville's Montford Park Players bring British class to Masonic theater
by Jim Cavener

"Asheville, North Carolina is an exciting place to experience the entertainment arts. From West Asheville to Montford, downtown and Biltmore, there are always theatrical performances to catch, both dramatic and comedic." - Ben Falcon

 

 

The Montford Park Players are performing two British one-acts at the Masonic Temple on Broadway Street. Pictured are Travis Lowe, far left, Lisa M. Smith, Christopher McLoughlin and Katie Baker prepare for  

The Montford Park Players are performing two British one-acts at the Masonic Temple on Broadway Street. Pictured are Travis Lowe, far left, Lisa M. Smith, Christopher McLoughlin and Katie Baker prepare for "The Real Inspector Hound." The company is also doing Agatha Christie's "The Patient." / Erin Brethauer/ebrethau@citizen-times.com

 

ASHEVILE -- With two British one-acts, by famed playwrights Agatha Christie and Tom Stoppard, the Montford Park Players are settling in to the fine top-floor auditorium of the massive Masonic Temple at the bottom of Broadway Street.

 

Christie's "The Patient" and Stoppard's "The Real Inspector Hound" have some common threads but some major differences as well. Still, it's a fine mix for a full evening of scintillating theater.

 

What the two short plays have in common is the fine 20th-century British tradition of murder mystery theater, often set in a dark and brooding, cold and drafty, massive manse in the moors, on a dark and stormy, preferably foggy, night, when the creaky old country house is cut off from the rest of the world by the forces of nature.

 

The genre is best-served by introducing some suspicious character or characters who bring with them no good, to be sure.

 

Actually, only the farcical script of Sir Thomas' "Hound" lives up to all the above. Dame Agatha's "Patient" is a compact but clever contrivance of attempted murder that occurs in a city hospital room, with no creaks, no fog, no isolation, no electrical failure, but with a passel of tension, trickery, terror and turbulence before the confusion and conflict are resolved in Christie's usual surprising manner.

 

Twists and turns abound in both scripts, which provide ample fun for a crisp winter night. Director Mike Coghlan is blessed with a most capable cast, both of zanies for Stoppard's script and simply talented actors for Christie's concoction.

 

The vehicles call for eight roles in "Hound" and nine in "Patient." Only Heather Johnson as Emmaline Ross in "The Patient" has a single solo character.

 

When the cast roles have British names, it is fair to assume that the character is from Christie's script. When the character is named some wacky or stereotypical moniker, guess that it is from the Stoppard work.

 

Of course the totally zany, over- the-top roles get the most notice, and we have several stellar such to appreciate. One is a new talent in our midst. Jane Hallstrom is simply delicious as Mrs. Drudge and does Dr. Ginsberg nicely, as well.

 

Another loony is Christopher McLoughlin as Lansen and Simon Gascoyne. Way off-the-wall in both cases, and purposely so. Travis Lowe shows his ample talents as Bryan Wingfield and a wacko Birdboot.

Somewhat more sedate is Katie Baker as the voluptuous Cynthia Muldoon then quite sedate as "The Patient." Scott D. Bean is both William Ross and the pompous Maj. Magnus Muldoon.

Trinity Smith is charming as Brenda Jackson and less so as Felicity Cunningham, while Jim Slautich is capable as both police inspectors -- these are British murder mysteries -- Inspector Gray and Inspector Hound. Lisa Smith gives us a lovely, if sur prising, role as a nurse, then as Moon. Guess which author would write a piece with a character named Moon.

With the vast open space in front of the large proscenium arch in this historic auditorium, it is sad that to use this area as a thrust-stage would create sight-line issues for audience members in the long, curved balcony.

Getting around that limitation would give a wonderful immediacy to future stagings.

Jim Cavener reviews theater for The Citizen-Times and take5. E-mail him at jimcavener@aya.yale.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IF YOU GO

What: "The Real Inspector Hound" and "The Patient," by the Montford Park Players.
When: 7:30 p .m. Friday-Saturday.
Where: Asheville Masonic Temple, 80 Broadway St.
Tickets: $15, $12 seniors and students. Call 254-5146 or visit www.montfordparkplayers.org.

 

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Free home energy improvement workshops offered in Asheville

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2/21/2011 - Free home energy improvement workshops offered in Asheville
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"Living green is the Asheville way. Whether you live in a Healthy Built Home or a Victorian going green, improving your efficiency is the name of the game. There are many classes and workshops in the Asheville area to aid you in energy improvement." -Ben Falcon

ASHEVILLE -- Heating your home in the winter and cooling it in the summer takes a lot of energy and money.  Come learn how to make your home more energy efficient and spend less money on your energy bills in the coming Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Improvement Workshops that are free and open to the public. The upcoming workshops include:

 

o 6 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Public Works Building Room A109 located at 161 S. Charlotte St.

 

o 6 p.m. March 8 at the Shiloh Community Center located at 121 Shiloh Rd.

 

The workshops are sponsored by the city of Asheville Office of Sustainability, Asheville GO (Green Opportunities), A-B Tech GIST (Global Institute for Sustainable Technologies) and Shiloh Community Association.

 

Homeowners and renters are invited to attend the following workshops.  Participants will learn basic home energy economics and then get hands-on experience in implementing some quick energy saving fixes as led by qualified and trained Asheville GO weatherization staff.  Please wear clothing that can get a little dirty or bring something to wear over clothing for the hands-on portion.

 

Reserve your seat by e-mailing rrogers@ashevillenc.gov or calling 251-4057.

 

For more information, visit www.ashevillenc.gov/green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Asheville's Bluegrass First Class fest returns this weekend

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2/18/2011 - Asheville's Bluegrass First Class fest returns this weekend
by Carol Rifkin

Asheville, NC is always hosting a wide variety of music and arts. While you are out on the town enjoying the fine dining our city has to offer, stop in one of the many local venues and let your ears share in the banquet. - Ben Falcon

ASHEVILLE -- When the 16th annual Bluegrass First Class festival takes over the Crowne Plaza Resort this weekend, it will fill the hallways, lobby, concert hall and conference rooms with local, big-name bluegrass acts, jam sessions and workshops.

Bring your instrument, but not your lawn chair, and join in the fun as acts like Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice, Dailey and Vincent and the Grascals take the stage.

"Our new CD has been in the works for about three years. It's called 'The Grascals and Friends: Country Classics with a Bluegrass Spin,'" said the group's singer Terry Eldredge.

Released last month, the collection of 13 classic duets shot to No. 1 on the bluegrass charts and 26 on the country charts. Many of the country stars included really were old friends.

"We've worked with Dolly Parton, and we have recorded a Christmas CD with Charlie Daniels," Eldredge said. "We brought Tom T. Hall out of retirement; he wrote 'The Year That Clayton Delaney Died,' so we did that.

"The Oak Ridge Boys did 'Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight,' and we knew that 'Mr. Bojangles' would totally fit Joe Diffie," Eldredge said. "We picked songs the artists wrote or that really fit them. It was hard because we had to pick a song that fit the Grascals sound, too."

The CD is available only through the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, and Cracker Barrel donates a portion of the proceeds to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Eldredge agrees that country music and bluegrass are strongly connected. "As far as I'm concerned, bluegrass is the original country music, and I think it's coming back to that," he said.

"Bluegrass, it's rural music that people totally understand. It talks about daily living and everyday life," Eldredge said.

The Grascals' two newest members are banjo player Kristin Scott Benson and fiddler Jeremy Abshire.

"Kristin is banjo player of the year for the third year in a row; we call her Girl Scruggs," laughed Eldredge. "She's brought new life to our music.

IF YOU GO

What: Bluegrass First Class.
When: Noon-midnight today and Saturday, 9-11 a.m. Sunday.
Where: Crowne Plaza Resort, Holiday Inn Drive near the Smoky Park Bridge.
The lineup: Today features Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, Grascals, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, Laurel Creek, Dailey & Vincent. Saturday has Mountain Faith, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Lonesome River Band, Seldom Scene, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Dailey & Vincent, workshops and jams. Sunday: Mountain Faith, Joshua's Tree.
Tickets: $45 today or Saturday; $20 students with ID. Sunday gospel free. Call 275-8650 or visit www.bluegrassfirstclass.com.
MORE BLUEGRASSWith the recent closure of the Fiddlin' Pig, Asheville lost it's only full-time, dedicated-to-bluegrass venue, but there is no shortage of bluegrass around town and beyond. Here are a few suggestions.
Colonial Theatre: Home to the monthly Balsam Range bluegrass series (Crowe Brothers on March 12) and the annual Shindig on the Green fundraiser March 26, 55 Park St., Canton. 235-2760. www.cantonnc.com.
Diana Wortham Theatre: Next in bluegrass series is Mountain Heart with Tony Rice March 18, 2 S. Pack Square. 257-4530. www.dwtheatre.com.
Feed and Seed: An alcohol-free storefront church that serves up bluegrass and Moon Pies every weekend, 3715 Hendersonville Road. 216-3492. www.feedandseednc.com.
Grey Eagle: Hosting bluegrass or old-time bands four or more times a month, 185 Clingman Ave. 232-5800. www.greyeaglemusic.com.
Jack of the Wood: Old-time jams 5 p.m. Wednesdays; bluegrass at 9 p.m. Thursdays; and Americana bands most weekends, 95 Patton Ave. 252-5445. www.jackofthewood.com.
Madison County Arts Council: Concerts monthly; annual Fiddlers of Madison County show is March 12, 90 S. Main St., Marshall. 649-1301. www.madisoncountyarts.com.
Wild Wings Cafe: Free WNCW-88.7 FM bluegrass and mountain music series 7-9 p. m. Wednesdays, 161 Biltmore Ave. 253-3066. www.wildwingcafe.com/asheville.html.
Coming soon: A new venue opening in Weaverville by Jack of the Wood owner Joe Eckert and a new bluegrass venue under construction in West Asheville called the Isis.
Carol Rifkin

 

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Arts & Crafts conference returns to Grove Park Inn in Asheville

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2/17/2011 - Arts & Crafts conference returns to Grove Park Inn in Asheville
by Bill Murphy

Asheville, North Carolina is home to many artistic elements. From artsy bungalows to crafty cabins, architecture is one of the more noticable feartures. But behind those walls are many other treasures to find.

In a city known for its Arts & Crafts structure comes the 24th edition of a conference celebrating the architectural style.

The 24th National Arts & Crafts Conference and Antiques Show at the historic Grove Park Inn will unite the public and conference attendees with offerings of more than 130 antiques dealers. Also available to them will be contemporary crafts firms making new works in the Arts & Crafts style and book and magazine publishers, including American Bungalow, Style 1900 and Old House Journal.

Included in the three-day $10 admission are educational displays on American art tiles, Biltmore Industries woodwork and Gustav Stickley's Craftsman Farms, plus demonstrations on woodworking, furniture restoration, metalsmithing and jewelry-making.

"Asheville is noted for its Arts & Crafts architecture and heritage," conference director Bruce Johnson said, "from our bungalow neighborhoods like West Asheville, Norwood Park and Kenilworth to the more eclectic Albemarle Park, Kimberly Avenue and Biltmore Village.

"Our historical 'mountain crafts' made the easy transition over to Arts & Crafts by combining hand craftsmanship with artistic designs inspired by nature, hence the name 'Arts & Crafts.'"

The conference combines the afternoon sales shows with educational seminars, small group discussions, demonstrations, a silent auction, workshops and walking tours of both the Grove Park Inn and nearby Biltmore Industries. Exhibitors will be bringing both antique and new Arts & Crafts furniture, art pottery, tiles, rugs, artwork, metalwork, jewelry and books, all from or inspired by the 1895-1939 Arts & Crafts era.

At the show, the new website for Arts & Crafts collectors, www.ArtsandCraftsCollector.com, will be giving away an 18-inch, matte green glazed floor vase commissioned from the Brown Pottery in Arden. Modeled after a similar 1904 Grueby Pottery vase, eighth-generation potter Charlie Brown and his wife Jeannette accepted the challenge of making a monumental floor vase that will be given away in a free drawing during the conference.

In addition, the Asheville-Buncombe County Preservation Society will be offering a three-hour Saturday and Sunday afternoon house tour for both conference attendees and area residents. This year's selection of buildings will focus on Richard Sharp Smith, Asheville's most prolific and influential Arts & Crafts architect of the 20th century.

For information on the house tours, call the society at 254-2343.

The shows are open to the public, but if you'd like to enroll in the conference, it's $145 and includes eight seminar presentations, entry to the shows, daily small group discussions, the 80-page conference catalog, a canvas tote bag and the conference poster. Register by calling 628-1915 or going online at www.Arts-CraftsConference.com.

Want to go?

What: 24th National Arts & Crafts Conference and Antiques Show.
Where: The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa.
When: 1-6 p.m. Feb. 18, noon-6 p.m. Feb. 19, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 20.
More: Arts-CraftsConference.com.
Cost: $10 adults; $5 students; no charge for children younger than 14 (ticket good all three days).

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Asheville: Second Home Mecca

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2/16/2011 - Asheville: Second Home Mecca
by Marla Hardee Milling

 

Asheville, North Carolina is all about living... own a dream vacation house here or come for good. Let Asheville be your second home.


By Marla Hardee Milling


Asheville continues to morph itself into one of the trendiest cities in the Southeast. The lofty Western North Carolina mountains, with their world-class natural beauty and four distinct seasons are luring thousands of retiring baby boomers and younger, affluent city dwellers to what so me have dubbed "The Paris of the South."

How do you define a town that constantly changes?

Plenty of people try, summing up Asheville, N.C. with such catch phrases and comparisons as "Paris of the South," "Santa Fe of the East" and "New Age Mecca." Even, "Top-rated place to retire" and "Land of the Sky."

As a lifelong Asheville resident, I've been aware of the labels used to define my hometown's unique individuality. I can even see rays of truth in many of them. But none works as a stand-alone description. It's when you combine them all that you get a sense of the real city.

The Early Ground-Breakers

Asheville has long been a destination for the rich and famous. George Vanderbilt was so taken with the beauty of the region that he bought a huge chunk of land in and around Asheville. In the late 1800s, he built his 250-room mansion and filled it with priceless art, sculptures, tapestries and elegant décor and surrounded it with lavish gardens and landscaping.

Later, E.W. Grove moved to Asheville from St. Louis for health reasons; the city had proved to be a wonderful destination for those seeking relief from breathing ailments, including tuberculosis. Grove marked the landscape with his money, creating the Grove Park Inn, which was built in 1913 and has catered to famous guests since its beginning, and the Grove Arcade, completed in 1929 and touted as "the finest structure in the South."

Until the stock market crash of 1929, Asheville was a boomtown. Then, saddled with a huge debt, the city could not afford downtown urban renewal. This financial burden led to the preservation of Asheville's architecture and today, it would be hard to imagine Asheville without its art deco City Building designed by Douglas Ellington, who also created the domed First Baptist Church and the old S & W Cafeteria building. Other buildings add to Asheville's architectural wealth with gargoyles or faces carved into building eaves.

Asheville Now

If you visit downtown Asheville today, it's easy to see the Paris connection with the multitude of art galleries and sidewalk cafés; the Santa Fe connection with the unique stores and restaurants that you won't see anywhere else and working artists in studios in the river district. The New Age reference comes through acupuncture schools, organic groceries and shops that cater to those looking for tarot cards, crystals and feng shui cures.


Without question, Asheville is also a lovely place to raise a family or to retire, with a moderate climate, four beautiful seasons, a low crime rate and stunning scenery. It's a town that offers something for everyone, from tattoo parlors to antique stores; sushi bars to used bookstores; upscale salons for the perfectly coifed to acceptance of those with dreadlocks.

It's a town that Self magazine proclaimed America's "Happiest City," and one which Rolling Stone Magazine dubbed "America's New Freak Capital." Money Magazine has called Asheville one of the "Best Places to Retire," and AARP cites it as one of the "Best Places to Reinvent Your Life." It's also a town with a strong literary history, serving as the hometown of authors Thomas Wolfe, Gail Godwin, Wilma Dykeman and John Ehle, as well as a place of inspiration for O. Henry, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Pat Conroy, to name a few.

As these slogans suggest, Asheville is a melting pot, a location that offers small-town charm, friendliness and acceptance of alternative lifestyles, along with cultural offerings, art, architecture and diversity in stores, shops, and cafés.

What is amazing for those of us who have lived through various stages of Asheville's renaissance is the degree of transformation that's taken place.
As a child during the '60s, I spent many Saturdays shopping in downtown Asheville with my mother and two aunts. I have fond memories of browsing through the elegant department stores located on Haywood Street and Battery Park Avenue. Ivey's was situated in a corner building that now houses the Haywood Park Hotel, and Bon Marche and Winner's were set a little further up Haywood Street. I quickly learned the rules: The higher the number on the elevator, the higher the price of clothes. You'd find bargains in the basement, moderate prices on the first and second floors, and more expensive items on the upper levels.

Around the corner on Battery Park Avenue, we shopped at John Carroll, an upscale boutique, and J.C. Penney, where a little woman sat in the store's alcove for years selling carnations. Fain's, a discount store with great prices and wonderful linens, stood on Biltmore Avenue where Mast General Store is now open for business. And there were other smaller shops sprinkled around town.

We'd literally shop 'til we were about to drop, then head for a bite to eat at the S & W Cafeteria, located in a stunning art deco build ing, the lunch counter at Woolworth's on Haywood Street or Brown's Restaurant on Battery Park. I also spent countless hours reading in Pack Memorial Library, visiting my aunts in the federal building where they worked for the U.S. Forest Service, getting my teeth checked in the Flat Iron Building, and enjoying summer Saturday evenings on the courthouse lawn watching cloggers and listening to old-time music at the Shindig on the Green.

Downtown Asheville pulsed with activity as people buzzed in and out of stores and restaurants, amid awe-inspiring architecture and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain skyline. But when I was in the sixth grade, construction crews built the Asheville Mall off Tunnel Road and the downtown area began its decline.

Beginning Another Boom

In 1979, as a high school senior, I had my first taste of working in downtown Asheville. I drew my paycheck from the Buncombe County Board of Education, then located in the Buncombe County Courthouse, and spent lunch hours combing through bargains at Bon Marche's going-out-of-business sale.

That summer, the city launched a festival in hopes of bringing people back downtown. The first year, the festival spanned just the length of Haywood Street and brought out a modest crowd, but the energy was set and Bele Chere became a yearly tradition. Now, it is the largest free outdoor street festival in the Southeast, attracting more than 350,000 people each July.

In the early 1980s, I stayed close to home and studied at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. At that time there were few reasons to venture downtown, especially after dark when most of the sparse stores and businesses were closed. Then, after graduation in 1984, I began my second stint working downtown, this time at The Asheville Citizen-Times on O'Henry Avenue. The sight of the Grove Arcade next door depressed me, its architecture still impressive but its usage grown stale with government offices inside. I felt a deep sadness for my town and yearned for the time it would throb again with crowds, stores and restaurants.

A New Visionary

John Cram, owner of the prestigious New Morning Gallery in Biltmore Village, had a hunch about the potential for downtown revitalization. He bought property along Biltmore Avenue and on New Year's Eve 1990 opened Blue Spiral 1 fine arts gallery.

"It wa s a ghost town when I opened," says Cram. "Now it's packed full. Arts always pave the way for downtown development."

Today, Blue Spiral 1 anchors one of the busiest, most successful areas of town. It's surrounded by restaurants, stores, galleries and Cram's Fine Arts Theatre next door. Any given weekend, throngs of people parade up and down Biltmore Avenue, stopping in the shops, eateries and the nearby Orange Peel nightclub.

By the Numbers:
All About Asheville

Population Asheville City: 69,425  

Asheville Metro:
231,205

Cost of Living Index
97.9% of 2003 national average  

Climate Average Temperature:
56 degrees

Average Annual Snowfall:
13.3"


Property Taxes per $100 value Asheville City:

$1.39
Retail Sales:
7%

North Carolina Income Tax
Personal:

 6-8.25%;
Corporate:
 6.9%

Average Housing Costs 2003:     
 $194,020.

Outdoor Activities
Fishing, hiking, rock climbing, swimming, hunting, white-water rafting, road & mountain biking, camping, horseback riding, llama trekking, canoeing, gem mining


Recreational Facilities

34 public parks and play areas
14 public & semi-private golf courses
Asheville Civic Center
Asheville Community Theater
Minor league baseball, the Asheville Tourists
23 tennis facilities
Montford Outdoor Theater
3 private residential full-service country clubs
2 private swim and tennis clubs
Semi-pro hockey, Asheville Smoke 

Attracting All Kinds

Asheville is a place that welcomes a wide variety of people and attitudes.

"There's a mix of so many different types of people bringing so many points of view and skill sets and talents to the community," says Asheville resident Bill Massey. "It's not a community that looks alike or thinks alike - and that's a strength."


Massey is one of a growing number of people finding residence in the downtown area. About a year ago, he bought a luxury condominium at the newly renovated Grove Arcade. It's the hot trend, that of upscale condominiums springing up in desirable locations all over downtown Asheville.

"I chose the arcade because I wanted to live in the urban center of Asheville," says Massey. "There's never a lack of ways to occupy your time, and yet that all occurs in an environment that seems very relaxed, friendly and accepting of different ages, ethnicities and interests."

Old Things New Again

Massey needs to only step outside his door to immerse himself in Asheville's atmosphere. The Grove Arcade is a hotbed of activity, home to three floors of residences above two floors of retail and office space. It's a must-see attraction for tourists and locals alike as they appreciate the Arcade's rebirth two years ago.

E.W. Grove fashioned plans in the 1920s to build what he called "the most elegant building in America." In 1929, two years after Grove's death, the Grove Arcade opened as a public market and served as a center of commercial life for 13 years. The federal government claimed the use of the building during World War II and continued to occupy it after the war as National Climatic Data Center headquarters.

The public didn't forget the arcade's intended use, and pushed for years to restore the architectural treasure. In 1997, the City of Asheville received title to the arcade under the National Monument Act. It reopened as a vibrant public market in fall 2002.

"I'm a huge fan of the way the downtown area of the city is developing," says Massey, "...honoring the past, yet having a clear eye to the future."

True to Its Beginnings

I've discovered a unique way to explore Asheville's mountain roots involves taking a journey on the Urban Trail - a 1.7-mile open-air museum that winds around the downtown area pointing out significant people, buildings and history in Asheville's past. The trail begins at the spot where a bronze pig and piglet stand at the base of the Vance Monument near the heart of downtown and leads past the boyhood home of one of Asheville's most famous residents, author Thomas Wolfe.

His mother Julia opened the doors of The Old Kentucky Home to boarders during Wolfe's youth, a period he chronicled in his novel, "Look Homeward, Angel." An arsonist almost destroyed the home a few years ago, but it was salvaged, restored and reopened for tours in May.

If Wolfe were alive today, it would be interesting to see what label he would affix to his hometown. Maybe he would see it changed yet still holding some qualities he knew as a boy. Maybe he would simply continue to call Asheville by the alter ego he gave it in his novels - Altamont. The name really doesn't matter as long as the city sustains its positive growth and energy, both for visitors and residents.

The Asheville I loved as a child has changed in many ways and yet still has the familiar flavor of small-town charm, an appeal that's held my attention throughout my life. And even in changing, it's still a place of excitement and fun. Often when my husband and I strap our two children into our van, the kids say, "Let's go downtown."

For them, Asheville offers a wealth of possibilities, from exploring the exhibits at The Health Adventure at Pack Place to kicking up their heels at Shindig on the Green or eating at one of our favorite spots, The Noodle Shop on Biltmore Avenue.

As I reminisce about the Asheville of the past and consider the changes it's endured to become the Asheville of today, the label I give my hometown has stayed constant through the years. No matter where I travel, where my path takes me or how many changes my town endures, Asheville will remain one thing: Home. My beloved home .

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Asheville is home of many independent business (like us!)

News

News

2/10/2011 - Asheville is home of many independent business (like us!)
by

This year Civic Economics and the American Booksellers Association announced the "Indie City Index 2011," which ranks American metropolitan areas based on the percentage of the area's retail activity generated by independent businesses.

Asheville's retail activity from independents ranks in the top 10 percent of metro areas in our population group and number 7 in our region.  The survey also showed Asheville has the lowest chain store saturation of any metro area in North Carolina.

In the overall ranking of more than 360 American metropolitan areas, some with a population of more than two million, Asheville placed in the top 15 percent in independent retail activity.

Complete rankings may be downloaded here.

Asheville Grown Business Alliance's powerful "Love Asheville - Buy Local" campaign seeks to bring awareness to the critical role independent businesses play in our economy and the sustainability of our area.  Independent local businesses promote strong community relationships, give more to civic needs and the arts, reduce environmental impact and create more good jobs.  

AGBA's strong local branding encourages people to "Love Asheville, put your money where your heart is, Buy Local" via posters, t-shirts, stickers, buttons and events.  They are partnering with key organizations in our area that promote import substitution, sustainable job creation and entrepreneurial opportunities.  They seek to buoy Asheville's thriving independent spirit and maintain a strong indie ranking.  

For more information regarding the Asheville Grown Business Alliance e-mail ashevillegrown@gmail.com or visit their website at www.ashevillegrown.com.  They can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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