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Dave Buckhout  .
Publication Date: April 16, 2012


On a 2010 overnight stop in Asheville, North Carolina, we were struck by the many early 20th century / Art Deco-era buildings—and the architectural details they showcased—occupying prime real-estate throughout the city’s downtown. Buildings that decades ago could very well have met the wrecking ball in favor of more modern formulaic construction—styles that run like a textbook of architectural history and detailing—had been left standing. Well, it turned out there was a good reason for this preservation feat: the city had been broke for a significant chunk of the 20th century. A marker downtown laid out the background:

“Asheville’s downward economic trajectory began with a decline in the real estate market in 1926 and reached catastrophic proportions when local banks failed in November 1930. The Depression was a period of extraordinary suffering in Asheville, which was to spend the next forty years paying off its debts. The halt in economic activity meant the city kept many of its wonderful old buildings because no one could afford to replace them. These structures are among Asheville’s most celebrated features.”

It was not just the buildings, but the details that we encountered around every corner that caught our eye. Since that first trip back in 2010, we have been back—a lot!—always keeping our eyes out for the details of downtown Asheville. Here’s a highlight reel …

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