I think this is the last image of Asheville I’m going to post. This series is kind of going out with a whimper rather than a bang, but I kind of like the repeating pattern of the black mesh table tops. On a nice day, these tables would be filled with people enjoying the street scenes of downtown Asheville, but on this day it was rather blustery and cold and people were more likely to be found doing what we had just finished doing–enjoying a warm cup of tea in a cozy coffee house. In fact the only people we saw sitting outside anywhere were those pariahs of modern American society, cigarette smokers.
This building takes both the shape and the name of the much more famous Flatiron Building in New York City. The big city envy is even more obvious when you realize that the building sits on Wall Street in Asheville. I’ll add my own envy to the situation by admitting I wish my Asheville Flatiron photo was as good as Edward Steichen’s rendering of the New York City namesake. Below is a poor reproduction of Steichen’s image (all that seems to be available on the web); I have a photogravure print of it taken from the original negative and it is stunning.
I guess I’m giving a biased view of Asheville architecture, avoiding all the art deco buildings for some reason. This cathedral is said to be of the Spanish Baroque Revival style and was built entirely without wood or steel, using only masonry and tiles for the floors, ceilings, and pillars. As cathedrals go, it’s not really a huge building, but leaving the “keystone” effect (the apparent angling in of the top of the building) in the photograph helps make it look more imposing.
The neo-gothic Jackson building reflected in another non-art deco but notable building in downtown Asheville. This building was designed by I.M. Pei, designer of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and the Pyramids of the Louvre in Paris. Personally, I don’t see this as being one of Pei’s best efforts.
Read any introduction to downtown Asheville and one of the first things mentioned is that it is famous for its large collection of art-deco buildings. So it was surprising to see the neo-gothic Jackson building, complete with gargoyles on each corner, dominating the skyline. Built in the twenties, it was the first skyscraper in North Carolina (if a 14 story building can be considered a skyscraper anymore). It is also notable for being built on a tiny 27 foot by 60 foot lot. It’s diminutive size did not keep it from serving well as the set for the 1939 film version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.