I am smitten with Asheville and enamored with the old architecture found in our Downtown. Our stunning Basilica, the elegant Grove Arcade, the Masonic Temple, the Kress Building. To me, those beautiful buildings are “part of our charm”.
One of my favs is the Woolworth Building. Located on Haywood Street, it was once an actual “5 and 10 cents” store! The first Woolworth Store was opened in Utica, New York in 1878. Woolworth opened in Asheville in 1938.
The Art Deco faced building was designed by Henry Irven Gaines. and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Mr. Gaines came to Asheville from South Carolina and was a successful architect in his adopted City. He also designed many of the homes in Biltmore Forest, the 1930 Coca-Cola Bottling Company Plant, and was the Campus architect for Mars Hills College
The Woolworth Building was restored in 200l, and is now Asheville’s famous Woolworth Walk. It is an art gallery with the work of over 170 local artists. You can see outstanding paintings and photography, huge metal sculptures, glass creations. Elegant jewelry. Creative furniture. Over the years I’ve strolled through numerous times, and am always impressed with quality of the art displayed in the building. It is a great venue to see the commitment to quality, and the passion of so many creative beings! The volume of this creative community is breathtaking.
And great news! There is a Soda Fountain! It is in the actual space where the original Lunch Counter was. The milkshakes are to die for, and I love the Reuben sandwich Looks just like something out of the 1950s! I know, because I’ve eaten at a 1950’s Woolworth Lunch Counter!
Erin, the Manager, shared some history with me the other day:
The Building has a ghost, named “Mary”. She appears to be a benevolent spirit, moving breakables off the walls, and setting them “squared up” on the floor in the aisles. She also messes with the lights!
Generally, a Woolworth store would open in a city, with Kress Department Store following in a few years. In Asheville, just the opposite happened.
And, here’s a newsflash for you: The third floor is under construction right now. There will be loft-style Airbnb units! What a treat to spend the night there.
And now my fiber art is in this wonderful building, surrounded by such a creative community. I find my own history circling back around. As a little girl I shopped at a Woolworth’s, and had after school malts. Bought my “Seventeen” magazines there, and of course Yardley perfume! My first job was as a hostess at Woolworth Lunch Counter. And now, my fiber art is in the Woolworth Walk in Downtown Asheville. I feel honored to be included!