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Grove Park Inn

Photo courtesy of the Grove Park Inn

The Grove Park Inn, built by Edwin Wiley Grove, is an earnest attempt to erect an honest building with no substitution of contemporary popular design for classic construction forms, all the more remarkable because an amateur architect designed it during an era of architectural pretension. Grove, owner of a pharmaceutical company manufacturing Bromo-Quinine, arrived in Asheville in 1900 and found the mild climate so much to his liking that he purchased a large tract of land on Sunset Mountain. Grove had the idea for a magnificent lodge, grand enough to mirror the majesty of the mountains that would provide its foundation. Grove's concept called for a building with the natural rough stone of the mountains surrounding the lodge. After finding that no local architects could grasp his concept, Grove entrusted his son-in-law, Fred L. Seely, to design the building. Seely had no formal training in architecture but undertook the project as both designer and contractor. The Grove Park Inn was completed in 11 months and 27 days and opened on July 1, 1913. The unusual and striking intimacy between the building and its natural environment is one of the factors of the continued success of the Grove Park Inn and perhaps the chief factor in its architectural significance.

[photo] Historic views of Grove Park Inn, including one during construction
Photos courtesy of North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina

The Inn was built in five sections that join end-to-end and step terrace-like along the mountain ridge. Native uncut granite boulders quarried from Sunset Mountain form the wall surfaces and chimneys of the inn. Grove himself ordered that "not a piece of stone was to be visible to the eye except it show the time-etched face given it by thousands of years of sun and rain that had beaten on it." The Grove Park Inn has enjoyed a long and colorful history with many distinguished guests including Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, F. Scott Fitzgerald and President Woodrow Wilson.

Grove Park Inn

Photo courtesy of the Grove Park Inn

Federal agencies controlled the property from 1942 to 1946 during which time the State Department used the Inn as an internment center for Axis diplomats. Philippine government officials were in exile at this time and were also located in one of the guest cottages. The United States Navy has also used the Inn as a rest and rehabilitation center. Substantial renovations occurred in 1955 and additional wings were added to the Inn in 1958 and 1963. A major expansion, completed in February of 2001, added a spa to the grounds.

The Grove Park Inn is a resort and spa located at 290 Macon Ave., off of Charlotte St. For more information call 1-800-438-5800 or visit their website.

Grove Park Inn is a Historic Hotels of America member, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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