Asheville decades: the 1910s

We’re traveling all the way back to the 1910s in Asheville, NC where everything from aerial stunts to a great flood took place.

Pack Square in 1910

The view of Pack Square in 1910.

Photo by H. W. Pelton

Despite being early in the 20th century, the 1910s brought new inventions, now-historical landmarks, and notable Ashevillians into our world.

Let’s turn back time and take a deep dive into the Land of the Sky’s history during this era.

📈 Population: 18,762

🗳️ Mayors: John A. Campbell (1907-1910), J. E. Rankin (1911-1919)

1910 — In November, John H. Lange and Gay Green purchased the site at the corner of North Main and College Street. At that time, it was the uncompleted Miller Hotel — but the space was finished and by July 4, 1912, the Langren Hotel opened in its place.

Langren Hotel Asheville

The hotel was eventually demolished in 1964, but the AC Hotel now resides in its place.

Photo by Boston Public Library via Wikimedia Commons

1911 — The April 15 issue of the Asheville Citizen-Times highlights the “remarkable exhibition of aviation” that Lincoln Beachey would complete a few days later. Crowds came to watch the aviator’s wild aerial tricks — he landed in Baird Bottom, which unofficially became Asheville’s first airport before it was closed around 1923 to construct Beaver Lake.

1912 — Karl von Ruck created a tuberculosis vaccine. It was believed that our city’s climate and fresh mountain air could help those with the disease, and von Ruck was influential in signifying Asheville as a hub for treatment, opening a lab and sanitarium before creating the vaccine.

1913 — On July 12, the Grove Park Inn opened its doors, with Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan delivering a speech. From the groundbreaking to completion, construction took just a few days short of one year, and 400 men worked 60 hours per week to finish the project.

1914 — Ashevillian Madelon Battle Hancock joined the first British Hospital Unit as WWI broke out, possibly becoming the first North Carolinian to travel to the frontlines, where she served for four years. It was there she was given the nickname “Glory” for her enthusiasm for supporting Allied forces.

Madelon Battle Hancock

Madelon Battle Hancock pictured in her nursing uniform and wedding dress.

Photos via Wikimedia Commons

1915 — After about 21 months of construction, the Asheville Masonic Temple opened on April 29. Architect Richard Sharp Smith designed the building, with stonemason Samuel Isaac Bean leading the build — the two had previously worked together on the Biltmore Estate in the 1890s.

1916 — Railroads, bridges, homes, and businesses were destroyed in the Flood of 1916. Two tropical storms met, causing record-high levels of rainfall in a 24-hour span. The French Broad River typically measured around 380 ft in width — but measured 1,300 ft wide during the flood.

Flood of 1916

Debris from the Flood of 1916.

Photo via National Centers for Environmental Information

1917 — In February, Tempie Avery, passed away. A formerly enslaved woman, Avery was a nurse, midwife, and widely respected and esteemed member of the community. In 2017, the Montford Community Center was renamed the Tempie Avery Montford Community Center, which stands on the site of her former home.

1918 — The influenza epidemic hit WNC hard, and by October, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported 600 confirmed cases, with schools and churches closed as a result of the outbreak.

1919 — On Sept. 12, the Asheville Business and Professional Women’s Association was created — about a year before the 19th Amendment was ratified — to help fight gender inequality. Lillian Exum Clement Stafford, born and raised in Buncombe County, was an organizing member and became NC’s first female legislator in 1920.

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