Reshaping the Built Spaces on the French Broad in Asheville, NC
River Arts District of Asheville was once the home of manufacturing, a stockyard & auction, a railroad roundhouse, and warehouses along the French Broad River. among the oldest rivers in America. Artists and small businesses began to move to some of these buildings, and open work sites in the mid-1980s. Many of them are drawn by affordable space, a vibrant music scene, and regional craft-art schools.
The Southern Highland Craft Guild, with headquarters at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway laid the foundations for the existing community. The Guild was formed in 1930 to promote mountain crafts-people so they might supplement farm income and preserve heritage crafts. For the last 80 years, the Guild has successfully done this through educational outreach, exhibitions, the Craft Fairs of the Southern Highlands, and craft shops. Traditional and fine craft along with the deeply rooted music scene has helped to build the arts community. Penland School, Arrowmont School and J.C. Campbell Folk School are all within driving distance. Asheville has seen the growth of a unique, diverse, and ever-changing arts community that has grown up as art students found Asheville area and the mountains inspired creativity and connection.
Purchased in 1955 by a company that reprocessed textile remnants for resale, essentially recycling fabric, it came to house a variety of enterprises. The following year, it was Day Tobacco who purchased the rest of the old Hans Rees Tannery east of the property, tore down the old tannery buildings, and replaced them with tobacco warehouses, making our building the last remaining vestige of the original 1902 construction.
From the mid-1960s to the 80s, other small companies leased the site and manufactured blankets, both spinning and weaving. In 1978, Biltmore Carpets was operating in part of the building, and in 1989, Loren Cook Company, manufacturers of fans for industry, moved into the North warehouse on the property and is still here today.
In the 1980s, across town, sisters Helaine Greene and Trudy Gould were running a retail shop on Tunnel Road that sold candles and gifts. They began crafting some candles of their own, and soon had a thriving business called Candle Station. Their venture outgrew the small retail site. In 1990, they moved the manufacturing side of the operation in, renting 7,000 square feet of production and office space to 191 Lyman. The building was in rough shape — boarded up windows, barbed wire fencing all around the lot — and mostly vacant. But it was a great warehouse space for a growing business. As sales increased, Candle Station by 1996 took over 40,000 square feet, by sharing it with others. Helaine & Trudy purchased the building. The sisters were still focused on their candle business, but more and more people approached them to ask about renting space.
From Candle Station to Riverview Station
In 2004, after 20 years in the candle business, Helaine and Trudy decided to sell the Candle Station brand to pursue other interests — including running their historic property. They named the building Riverview Station in honor of its riverfront location, and began renovations and upgrades to welcome a wide variety of artistic and entrepreneurial tenants. The Station became one of the pioneering properties of Asheville’s blossoming River Arts District. Over time, artists joined hands to create the River Arts District Arts Association to promote and support increasing visibility of working artists and small business ventures in the area.
The sisters consider their entrepreneurs and artisan tenants to be part of one large, extended family and invite you to experience the creative community they’ve worked so hard to cultivate and grow.
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