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A trip down memory lane with Asheville Postcard Company

Let’s look into the history of the locations featured in postcards from Asheville Postcard Company.

Postcard of Basilica of Saint Lawrence by Asheville Postcard Company

Check out this vintage snapshot of Basilica Saint Lawrence from Asheville Postcard Company.

Photo by AVLtoday

Founded in the early 1910s, the Asheville Postcard Company occupied a small building on Carolina Lane, between Broadway Street and North Lexington Avenue. According to J.L. Mashburn’s “Asheville & Buncombe County…Once Upon a Time,” the building held about 10 million linen postcards dating from 1912 to 1950.

We got our hands on some of these old postcards (thanks, Sweeten Creek Antiques), so let’s turn back time and discuss the past and present of some of these vintage snapshots.

The Langren Hotel

In November of 1910, John H. Lange and Gay Green purchased the site at the corner of North Main (now Broadway Street) 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. The hotel was frequented by businessmen and had a rooftop garden, soda fountain, and drug store. The Langren Hotel remained until 1964 when it was razed to make way for a parking building. Today, the AC Hotel Downtown Asheville sits on the site.

Asheville-Biltmore College

Founded in 1927 as Buncombe County Junior College, the school changed its name to Biltmore Junior College and later Asheville-Biltmore College — before it became the University of North Carolina Asheville in 1969. Attendance was free until 1930, and in 1957, it became the first school to qualify as a state-supported community college. The public funds allowed the school to move to its current North Asheville home in 1961 — the postcard shows the college’s previous location of Seely Castle, which is now a private residence.

Notable alumni include author and environmentalist Wilma Dykeman, who also served as co-editor of “Bluets,” the school’s literary magazine.

Grove Arcade

E.W. Grove, who created the wildly popular Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic and built the Grove Park Inn, planned to bring hustle and bustle downtown with the construction of Grove Arcade. Construction on the shopping plaza began in 1920 and was completed after Grove’s death in 1929. However, in 1942, the US Government took control of the building for military operations during WWII. After the war, it remained under federal control and was used as the headquarters for the National Weather Records Center.

After a push for the building to be returned to its original use, the City of Asheville gained its title and signed a 198-year lease with the Grove Arcade Public Market Foundation. After a renovation, it reopened in 2002.

Basilica of Saint Lawrence

One of the largest freestanding elliptical domes in North America (and the only basilica in WNC), the Basilica of Saint Lawrence was designed by Rafael Guastavino + Richard Sharp Smith and completed in 1909. The basilica, like Guastavino’s other signature projects, was fashioned in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style, meaning it used ancient Catalonian building methods and materials such as stone, brick, tile, and mortar.

It was Guastavino’s final project before he died in 1908, and he’s entombed inside the church. Pro tip: You can take a self-guided tour.

Asheville Auditorium

This postcard might not have been printed by the Asheville Postcard Company, but we still wanted to explore this transformation. Before there was the Asheville Auditorium, there was the Municipal Auditorium, which replaced the shortlived City Auditorium and stood from 1904 to 1937.

The Asheville Auditorium opened in 1940 with a sleek art deco style, thanks to funding from the Public Works Administration after the Great Depression. In 1968, Asheville City Council approved plans for Asheville Civic Center (now called Harrah’s Cherokee Center - Asheville), which incorporated the Asheville Auditorium into its design, along with an arena, exhibition hall, and banquet rooms.

The auditorium underwent renovations, reopening in 1975 as the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. Speaking of upgrades, history seems to be repeating itself, with the city in talks of another much-needed renovation.

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