You were likely to encounter everybody you ever met

Posted by | February 4, 2011

“[My father] started one trend that horrified all the old friends. He put the kitchen on the front of the house. This was a thing unknown, inconceivable to the local populous. You didn’t put the kitchen on the front of the house. People built houses on Montford Avenue where there was a superb view in the back of the house, with porches that had the whole Pisgah range…the whole Cold Mountain, Pisgah, Spivey, Eagle’s View panorama…in those days it was just clear as crystal all the time, that view. In those days you could see it, but now all that stuff is just a crick in a particulate fog.

Anthony Lord, Asheville NC“Anyway, they put a streetcar track on Montford Avenue, and there was a certain amount of traffic, and a certain amount of streetlights. People had porches on the front of their houses, where they could see nothing but whatever went on on Montford Avenue. This is entertaining, I think, because it illustrates the standards and mores of the period, and I guess of the people. The interest in activity far outweighed the interest in natural scenery or the fantastic set of views.

“The sun sets off this back porch, and its clouds troop across the garage…crocodiles followed by giraffes, incredible Chinese dragons would cross the sunset. Well, you don’t see them anymore. It’s a shame, because they were great pleasures. And big thunderheads we would get over the Duck Mountains out there. Tremendous cumulous clouds, and as it got darker they’d turn gray and keep lightning within the cloud…a flash of lightning would illuminate the whole into pink…it would warm up the whole into pink flesh, these gray clouds. Incredibly beautiful. …

“Well, [Asheville] was an exciting place, in the boom days. The pleasures were very simple, though. It was a very open, kindly, low pressure sort of place. In the late 20’s the…at least that was the way it was to me…it was, for example, there were band concerts on the square. It was not this mad rush always. At least I didn’t feel it. And it felt that way until the beginning of the second war.

Montford Avenue, Asheville, NC“At first it was a stock company that gave the lease to the Plaza Theatre. And they would do a show every week, I guess or every two weeks, and they would rehearse with a chorus line with about 5…one of whom was Lenny’s wife who was pregnant at the time, and could still kick as high as anyone else. And of course this was all during prohibition days. You went up there with a couple of friends, and you came out and had a cola or something…after probably Goode’s Drug Store, a place where you were likely to encounter everybody you ever met.

“It was on Patton Avenue. Ran through…it was where the Wachovia Bank is now. Ran through from Patton to College. I remember Tom Wolfe holding forth on some trip he had made to France, his pleasure and amusement in the provincial French one night stands…and Charlie Parker, who was an architect here. They could all be found standing out front at Goode’s, from about 1:00 in the afternoon to about 6:00 in the afternoon. He didn’t stay in his office because people came in and bothered him. Then he’d go back after supper, at night, and turn it out, and go to work early the next morning. So this is the way we operated. But he was good. He’s the man who did the Arcade building.”

Anthony (Tony) Lord, 1900-1993
August 2, 1979 interview

Architect Tony Lord left his mark on many public and private buildings in Asheville, including the Pack Memorial Library and the D. Hiden Ramsey Library on the campus of UNC Asheville. He was also influential in the greening of downtown Asheville, planting and protecting trees. He was one of the founding members of the architectural group Six Associates. For many years he was a member of the Board of Directors of the public library.


Asheville+NC architects Thomas+Wolfe appalachia appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history

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