Plus, prepare for the summer heat in Asheville.
June 25, 2024 6AM-Top banner logo-small.png


Today’s Forecast

89º | 10% chance of precipitation
Sunrise 6:16 a.m. | Sunset 8:49 p.m.

Stephens-Lee celebrates a centennial
Black and white photo of original Stephens-Lee High School building
The original building was designed by local architect Ronald Greene.|Photo by Edward W. Pearson Jr., L940-DS, Buncombe County Special Collections
A beautiful academic gothic building rising above the Valley Street neighborhood, Stephens-Lee High School was known as the Castle on the Hill. But its renown was far more than merely aesthetic — until it closed in 1965, the school was a paragon of academics, culture, arts, and athletics for the Black students of Asheville.

So as Stephens-Lee High School celebrates the 100th anniversary of its first graduating class, we’re taking a look at that century-long legacy.

Early days of education

Stephens-Lee opened in March 1923, but it wasn’t the first school on that site. From 1892 to 1917, Catholic Hill School had occupied the space — and Dr. Edward S. Stephens served there as Asheville’s first Black principal until ~1894. In 1909, Walter Lee took up the position.

After the building burned in 1917, and students spent six crowded years going to classes in a former sanitorium, funding was approved for a high school for Black students. It was named for Stephens and Hester Ford Lee, esteemed educator and Walter Lee’s wife.


Before Stephens-Lee was built, students took classes in the former Circle Terrace Sanitorium.


Photo from the Ruth Jackson Cannon and Shirley Cannon Singleton Collection, K688-8, Buncombe County Special Collections

Its curriculum lived up to the excellence of its eponyms. The faculty taught classes in everything from literature, music, and drama to carpentry, welding, and cosmetology. The students performed plays and recitals, built houses in local neighborhoods, and played on multiple title-winning teams in football, track, tennis, and basketball.

The students were led in their endeavors by a highly educated academic cohort. In the year before the school closed, more than half of the faculty held master’s degrees — including Elynora Martin Foster Dargan, lauded by her obituary as “the first African-American woman in Asheville to receive a master’s degree.”

These teachers were central to the education of Black students, not only in Asheville, but across WNC. When the Black high school in Yancey County burned down and the school in Hendersonville closed, Stephens-Lee garnered students far and wide — with some being forced to ride in a bus for more than four hours.
What was the average salary for teachers at Stephens-Lee High School around the time of its opening?

A. $769
B. $933
C. $1,287
D. $1,550
Tuesday, June 25
  • Foam Frenzy | Tuesday, June 25 | 1-3 p.m. | Malvern Hills Park, 75 Rumbough Pl., Asheville | Free | Little ones can join in as the park is filled with fluffy foam and make-believe fun.
  • Rising Stars Concert | Tuesday, June 25 | 6-7 p.m. | Asheville Art Museum, 2 S. Pack Square, Asheville | $15-$18 | Listen in as two NC musicians embark on their concert careers during this Asheville Art Museum + Asheville Chamber Music Series collaboration.
Wednesday, June 26
  • Lunch + Learn | Wednesday, June 26 | 12:30-2:30 p.m. | AmeriHealth Caritas, 216 Asheland Ave., Asheville | Free, RSVP | Discuss education and recommendations from the Community Reparations Commission with Dr. Amieris Lavender.
  • Another Adult Spelling Bee | Wednesday, June 26 | 7-9 p.m. | Leveller Brewing Co., 25 N. Main St., Weaverville | $0-$10 | Test your spelling skills and play to win with this comedic, nostalgic competition.
Thursday, June 27
  • Funky Fresh Comedy | Thursday, June 27 | 7:30 p.m. | Ginger’s Revenge, 829 Riverside Dr., Asheville | $5 | Get ready for an extra silly night of comedy from local + NYC comedians — plus, a full PowerPoint presentation on soup.
  • “Fiddler on the Roof” | Thursday, June 27-Sunday, June 30 | Times vary | Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre, 44 College St., Mars Hill | $10-$25 | Treasure tradition and find your match through the timeless tale of Tevye the dairyman, his family, and the villagers of Anatevka.
Friday, June 28
  • What’s in the Box? | Friday, June 28 | 7-9 p.m. | Story Parlor, 227 Haywood Rd., Asheville | $15-$18 | Provide suggestions and join in the fun as Speakeasy Improv players create this fast-paced show on the spot.
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5 festive finds for the Fourth of July
Six pairs of wacky red, white, and blue sunglasses
Fourth of July party sunglasses, $20.99 via Amazon.|Graphic by 6AM City
Bring a party mood to any barbecue, pool party, or holiday gathering this Fourth of July with these festive finds:
News Notes
  • The former Ramada Inn received a new development proposal from for-profit Friendship for Affordable Housing, after the City of Asheville parted ways with the previous developer. The project includes 113 units for local unhoused people + requires $1.5 million from the city, which will be voted on in the coming weeks. (Asheville Citizen-Times)
  • The city’s first all-abilities playground, located at Murphy-Oakley Community Center, has officially come into play. Asheville Parks and Recreation is hosting the grand opening celebration today, June 25, starting at 1:30 p.m. See the new space.
Coming Soon
  • Last week, Congressman Chuck Edwards announced that a new US Army Reserve will be constructed in the Asheville area. The $32 million project, funded by the Department of the Army, will include a 35,000-sqft training building, among other facilities; it’s expected to be completed by June 2026. (Asheville Citizen-Times)
  • These tools are going under the hammer. Asheville Tool Library is hosting a yard sale this Saturday, June 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Support the nonprofit and stock up on gear for gardening, carpentry, plumbing, and more.
  • Tomorrow, June 26, Pie-Squared Pizza in Fletcher will donate 10% of its sales to Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue. Order take out or dine in from 5 to 8 p.m. to give local pets a pizza your support.
  • Put the community in the picture. Applications are now open for ArtsAVL’s Arts Build Community grant, which supports local organizations in creating arts-based projects that bring together diverse groups of participants to get involved in the community. Apply by Monday, July 22.
  • Yesterday, Harrah’s Cherokee Center announced that rock band Goose is coming to Asheville on Friday, Oct. 25 and Saturday, Oct. 26. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. this Friday, June 28, or you can sign up now for presale access.
Plan Ahead
Featured Home
  • Know anyone in the market for a starter home? This ranch-style house is available for $329,000 in a popular Swannanoa neighborhood just east of Asheville.*
  • What happens when you combine German engineering with the world’s most trusted name in hearing care? The biggest breakthrough in hearing technology in more than a decade: the award-winning Horizon hearing aid. Join 385,000+ people hearing better than ever with a 45-day, no-risk trial.*
☀️ If you can’t take the heat...
Asheville mountains from a rooftop downtown
Get ready for some hot months ahead.|Photo by @gregfigs
With Asheville’s temps likely hitting the high 80s and 90s (plus, chances for rain this week to increase the humidity), we’re coming in hot with some info on the effects of extreme heat, tips on how to beat the heat, and how to recognize the signs of heat illness.

What’s the difference between heat + extreme heat?

Extreme heat is defined as summertime temperatures that are much hotter + more humid than average. The body normally cools itself by sweating, however, when experiencing extreme heat, sweating is not enough. The body temperature rises faster than it can cool itself down and could lead to vital organ damage.

Although we aren’t currently in a period of extreme heat, it’s time to prepare for July — the hottest month of Asheville’s year. Plus, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, predicts that there’s a 40-50% chance of temps being higher than average.

Pro tip: The CDC shares this handy heat risk calculator to see how hot Buncombe County will get and how risky outside time will be.
The Buy
Stylish men’s summer shirts made from cotton and linen. They come in demure colors like khaki, olive, and gray and are $30 a pop.
The Wrap
Molly Wilson.jpeg Today’s edition by:
From the editor
For me, seeming knowledgeable about wine has involved some mild study, lots of relying on personal preference, and primarily practicing my “informed pondering” face to use in the presence of a wine list. Well, that was — as they say — the fake it portion of my wine-skill development. The make it portion will now be brought to you by the French Broad Vignerons’ How to Choose a Wine class. Join this Thursday, June 27 for expert tips on finding wine for any occasion.
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