Battery Park Hotel, 1924-1972
Backstory and Context
The original hotel was conceived by Colonel Frank Coxe, who opened the doors of the original Battery Park Hotel on July 12, 1886. Within its first decade, the hotel was known as "one of the world's social centers."1 George Vanderbilt numbered among the esteemed guests who roamed the legendary hotel's halls.
By the 1920s, Asheville was in the throws of a flourishing tourism economy and major development period that even dwarfed the turn-of-the-century era success. In this context, however, the old Battery Park Hotel was anachronistic. While the massive wooden building once representing the epitome of grandeur, the decades of technological and cultural development between its construction in 1886 and the booming economies of the 1920s unforgivingly marked the old hotel as a nineteenth-century artifact blotting an otherwise vibrant portrait of progress.
When Edwin Grove purchased the property from Coxe, he attempted to incorporate the aging yet undeniably impressive hotel into his plans to expand into a hospitality complex, but those efforts collapsed during Grove's massive hill excavation. The old hotel emulated Queen Anne style architecture, and the decision to demolish it was met with heated debate by Asheville's citizens, but Edwin W. Grove's new Battery Park Hotel promised to feature revival styles in vogue during the 1920s.
W. L. Stoddard designed the imposing 14-story building, facing its concrete substructure with brick and limestone, complete with a "Mission Revival style roof."2 Indeed, the hotel was representative of larger trends during the 1920s that often wedded Neoclassical and Spanish designs in the accelerated construction of hotels across the country. Just as its predecessor, the new hotel made sure to incorporate the latest trends and luxury appointments, including rooftop dining which, considering the hotel's impressive height, boasted incredible views of Asheville's mountainous skyline. Similar to many other grand downtown hotels, this hotel saw a decline in its business in the 1960s and 1970s. After closing in 1972, the hotel was converted into apartments.
2"Battery Park Hotel," National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary, accessed March 3, 2017, https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/asheville/bat.htm
1Rob Neufeld, "Visiting Our Past: 1st Battery Park Hotel Opens in 1886," Citizen Times, July 4, 2014, accessed March 3, 2017, http://www.citizen-times.com/story/life/2014/07/06/visiting-past-st-battery-park-hotel-opens/1227608...
Morgan Blanton, "A Haven in the Hills," Asheville Intensive, accessed March 3, 2017, https://sites.google.com/a/clevelandcountyschools.org/asheville-intensive/battery-park-hotel