As the days grow humid, who doesn’t yearn for some cool mountain air? Our June Artifact of the Month is an early-20th-century booklet advertising Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, a historic resort hotel that first opened in 1913. Built by Edwin Wiley Grove and his friend and son-in-law Thomas Seely, the Inn “was built in the old-fashioned way — full of rest, comfort, and wholesomeness.”
The inside of booklet, which features black-and-white photographs of the hotel’s lobby and various rooms, describes the luxuries of the hotel. No detail is too minute for this sixteen-page publication. It addresses plumbing: “The toilet seats are celluloid. No pipes are visible anywhere.” Lighting: “No electric bulbs visible. All lighting indirect.” Furnishings: “Not a double bed in the Inn. Double rooms have two three-quarter beds and single rooms have one.” Ice: “All refrigeration is artificial. Ice not used.”
The place is kept pristine and they insist on maintaining a homelike atmosphere. “The cleaning is done with Hoover Vacuum Cleaners,” the booklet declares. In the “Big Room,” or lobby, you will be greeted by the “world’s finest Orchestral Organ,” a description of which appears on the back cover of the booklet.
“One of the curses of the ordinary hotel,” reads one of the pages, “is the lack of consideration for guests who need rest or care to retire before midnight.” But Grove Park guests need not worry: the Inn has the art of comfort perfected as “employees wear rubber heels.”
Maids report for service at 8:00 a.m., but are provided with comfortable chairs in their corridors for reading until quiet hours end at 9:00 a.m. And the ceilings of the Big Room are one foot thick so no noise will penetrate into the rooms of sleeping guests.
This postcard from the same era as the booklet shows an interior view of the “Big Room” at night.
Amongst these extravagances, Park Grove prides itself on being “Absolutely Fireproof”:
“It is absolutely fireproof built of the great boulders of Sunset Mountain, at the foot of which it sits.”
With this extreme focus on comfort, it’s no wonder ten U.S. Presidents and countless luminaries from the worlds of art, entertainment, sports, and politics have stayed at this hotel.
In an atmosphere that prides itself on luxury and affording every opportunity for a good time, one rule comes across as surprising:
“It is unlawful for the management to provide or sell liquors to guests of this hotel.”
A little sleuthing reveals that this nifty little booklet was published in 1920 — at the dawn of Prohibition.
You may consider adding Grove Park to your list of NC vacationing spots, as the hotel is still open today – although in 2013, on its hundredth birthday, the classic Ashville Inn was purchased by Omni hotels. If the luxury isn’t enough to lure you, here’s some additional enticement: “The altitude forbids humidity and heat even on the warmest summer days,” tempts the booklet, “There are no mosquitos.”
This animation switches between the booklet’s centerfold photo and a colorized postcard featuring the same image.