Gove Park: Asheville’s Original Upscale Community
Grove Park is one of Asheville’s most recognizable historic neighborhoods. Development began in 1904 and it is one of the first instances of a planned community in the city. Dr. Edwin Wiley Grove conceived Grove Park as a stylish, sophisticated area for well-to-do locals and wealthy visitors alike to live.
Dr. Grove’s intent was reflected in a minimum investment of $5,000 for all construction in Grove Park—around $144,000 in today’s dollars. The result is a neighborhood that reflects the height of early-20th century design trends, including a variety of European Revival homes ranging from Tudors to Norman cottages.
The Three Rooms of Grove Park
Edwin Grove had already made his mark on Asheville when he bought a plot of farmland a mile north of the city. Dr. Grove was instrumental in the development of downtown landmarks like the Battery Park Hotel and Grove Arcade, but his vision carried him to the country.
“Grove’s philosophy,” Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County executive director Jack Thomson says, “was ‘let’s create a neighborhood that has a public realm about it.’” The neighborhood achieved this goal with its highly stylized namesake park. The Grove Park greenspace consists of three “rooms,” each with its own purpose. The upper room is a bowl, creating a natural auditorium. The middle is the most formal area, while the lower room—where the Preservation Society’s office is located today—is a rustic, isolated area.
Landscaping is an integral part of Grove Park’s design, even outside the park itself. Roads and lots were laid out specifically to create a unique sense of place and character. This included lining each street with a unique variety of trees—Kimberly Avenue is accented with Norway Spruce, while Edwin Place is shaded by maple trees.
The Early Days of Grove Park
Grove Park saw immediate interest from notable local business people. Julia Wolfe—real estate tycoon and mother of famed Asheville writer Thomas Wolfe—bought up a number of deeds as the neighborhood was developed. Wolfe was prone to flip property, buying up a plot of land and selling it after six months.
Despite interest from local magnates, initial sales weren’t what Grove was expecting. Always the entrepreneur, he began looking for other ways to boost sales. The most prominent of these new ideas being the Grove Park Inn. “Grove recognized that the economy in Asheville was strongly supported by visitors,” Thomson says.
The Grove Park Inn drew in wealthy visitors who Grove hoped would be taken in by the area’s charms and in turn invest in a permanent vacation home. This proved to be a successful gamble and Grove Park continued to grow throughout the early 20th century.
Real Estate in Grove Park
Today, Grove Park is sought after for the wide variety of continental revival architecture. The investment minimum Dr. Grove put in place in 1904 produced a stock of diverse homes, all built with high-quality materials. The steeply pitched roofs of Tudor Revivals sit alongside Spanish Colonial clay tiles, all tied together by their sophistication and the singular era they represent.
Grove Park continues to thrive based on many of the same things that made it attractive throughout the 20th century. The Grove Park Inn is now the Omni Grove Park Inn, a 4-star hotel that, despite a number of modern additions and amenities, still retains many of its original accents. The astounding sunset views from the back porch still serve as a lure for visitors, inviting the thought of making Asheville home firmly in the center of their minds—Just as Dr. Grove intended.
This article was written in partnership with the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County. If you’d like to learn more about their preservation efforts and how you can get involved, visit their website to contact them today.
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