March 11, 2011 by Susan Murray
>No, I am not talking about spring cleaning at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast, I am talking about
spring cleaning for my blog; or at least for my file of back stories. What follows is a compilation of things which I thought were interesting but none of which were big enough for a column of their own.
1) Barbies in Spring
Those of you have visited us here in historic Asheville may well recognize the images below. Asheville is known for its quirkiness and for its artists, and at the house one block down from us the two come together in full flower. There is a young family which lives there, but that’s not why the Barbies are outside. The wife is an artist and she has chosen to make a statement by “planting” Barbie and Ken dolls in her garden. Sadly, Barbies don’t weather well. The plastic tends to discolor and it’s not great for their hair either. But we had an early start to spring and I noticed the other day that she took advantage of the good weather to “re-plant” her garden. Most noticeable about this crop was is the addition of clothing and Ken dolls. It’s always an adventure to explore our neighbourhood. One never knows what one will see in the yards and on the porches. For some other examples, you can visit the photo gallery on our website (click here)
2) The Champagne Bar and Bookstore Reopens
When you walk into town from the Carolina one of the first places you will come to is the Grove Arcade. And in it is one of our favorite places in town. The Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar was start by two men who wanted to own real old-style bookstore with lots of different books, old and new. Sadly they found that the bookstore wasn’t doing too well so they had the genius idea of adding a wine bar!
With its leather seats and cozy nooks and crannies, it quickly became a popular spot in town in which to begin or end one’s evening. The owners continued to collect and purchase used books so, in time, the shop outgrew its space. This winter the shop was moved from its original location in Battery Park to the Grove Arcade. We were worried that it might lose its unique flavor but they have managed to enlarge and modernize the bar while still keeping its style. I like to imagine that some day I will have free time to stop in, grab a book and sip a glass of wine. (Yes, that’s James in the picture. We do occasionally get out.)
3) the Dining Room Fireplace
You have to know by now that the Carolina was built in 1901. One of the charming features of the house is
the many original fireplaces, most of which have been retro-fitted with gas so that our guests can enjoy a fire in their rooms. These fireplaces were originally designed to burn coal and as a result they are very shallow. Coal would have been piled up in the grates and did not need great depth to the fireplace.For example, the fireplace in the dining room is only 7 inches deep. Because there is another fireplace behind it in the living room, we were not able to convert it so on cold winter mornings it lay dark-not exactly the atmosphere we strive for!
But then we had the idea of burning candles in the fireplace so we set out to look for something to hold them. James remembered that we had met a man who worked in wrought iron at a craft fair here so we gave him a call and asked him if he would be interested in making something for us. We explained hummingbird connection to him, suggested he look at our website and sent him the dimensions. Here is the result. If you click on the picture you will be able to see it better. And here is a picture of it in use in the dining room. Of course, when we lit the candles it was dark and cloudy but by the time I came to take the picture the sun had come out! But you get the idea nonetheless.
4) David Webb Jewelry
Some of you may already have read about this on my facebook page, but it is such a neat story that I wanted to include it here too. One of Asheville’s famous sons actually grew up here at 177 Cumberland Avenue: David Webb. David learned to make jewelry during the depression, and got his start as a boy making small ashtrays in the cottage on our property. He grew up and moved to New York City were he became famous for making heavily jeweled brooches and bracelets, often in the shape of animals. President and Mrs. Kennedy commissioned him to make gifts for visiting Heads of State and his pieces were worn by stars such as Lana Turner and Doris Day.
Two weeks ago James and I were working in the front yard when a car stopped and asked us if we knew where the Carolina Bed & Breakfast was. They had heard that David Webb lived here and wanted to see it. Apparently it was their anniversary and the husband had given his wife a piece of David Webb Jewelry as an anniversary gift (!) It was just a coincidence that they came to Asheville for their anniversary. He didn’t know until they got here that David Webb had a connection to the town. Here is a picture of the pin he gave her. It is even signed by David on the back. This is probably as close as I will ever come to the real thing!
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