08 November, 2015

Grove Park Inn - After a Detour

I am back in Belize after my trip to Asheville, North Carolina to visit my brother, Arnie, but I wanted to write about one of our visits to Grove Park Inn.  We set out to walk the quite hilly 1.3 miles to the Inn and as my brother shut the door, he asked me if I had the house keys.  Oops!  With no spare key hidden any where, we thought we were sunk.  Feeling glum and foolish, we walked around his house to see if any windows had been left unlocked.  Luckily for us, a guest bedroom window had not been locked.

So there was nothing for it but to try to get the screen off so I could climb in.  I balanced atop the air-conditioning unit, positioned conveniently beneath the window, and used a barbecue grill scraper to pry the spring-loaded screen off; it only took 10 minutes to get it off - the spring was that snug.  Holding our breaths, we tried raising the sash.  Tricky to do since it is specifically designed to NOT be opened from the outside.

Cheered on by Arnie and using superpowers fueled by desperation, I managed to open the window and  wiggle through the window from a precarious position on a step ladder.  Entry was made more difficult because I really wanted to avoid landing on top of my camera gear and computer, which were on the floor directly under the window.  Supporting my upper body on the bed to the left of the window, I somehow managed to get one short leg inside and stretch it over to the bed, then drag the rest of me through the window.  Arnie documented the break-in with his cell phone camera.
Caught in the act.
I knew we needed to do the "break-in" and retrieve the key before we walked to Grove Park Inn.  It is only 1.3 miles away, but my FitBit tells me the roundtrip route has the equivalent to 37 flights of stairs and I wasn't sure I could manage to get through the window later in the day.

After the detour to retrieve the key, we began again.  Here is a view of our destination.
The original section of Grove Park Inn with colorful autumn landscaping.
We walked from Arnie's house on the east side of Lookout Mountain down to the valley and then partway up the west side of Sunset Mountain where the Inn is located.  Construction of the Inn began in 1912 when Asheville was small town known for its summer homes and TB sanitariums.  The Inn opened in 1913.
A new wing can be seen to the right.
Impressive aspect of the west-facing terrace.
Construction of the Inn was completed in slightly less than a year, no mean feat.  I took some photos of historical photos documenting the construction.
Mule team pulling felled timber from the mountainside forest.
"Car-train" used to transport locally quarried rocks to the building site.
Another view of the car-train.
From Wikipedia "Four-hundred men worked 10-hour shifts six days a week. With only the use of mules, wagons and ropes, granite boulders, some weighing as much as 10,000 pounds, were hauled from Sunset Mountain to build the hotel."

I took just few photos inside the Inn.
One of the 2 matching massive fireplaces in the Great Hall lobby.  This one is fitted with gas now, but the other one remains wood-burning.
The Inn was outfitted and furnished by Roycrofters with marvelous Arts and Crafts designs.
Many of the original furnishings remain in use.
Ten US presidents have stayed at Grove Park Inn, most recently President Obama, as have many other prominent people.  F. Scott Fitzgerald lived there for 2 years while his wife was receiving treatment at an insane asylum in Asheville.   
A display of furnishings used by F. Scott Fitzgerald during his long stay.
We didn't go on any of the tours of the Inn that offered.  Instead we opted to wander about the public spaces on our own and take in the marvelous vistas.
View from the Sunset Terrace.  The Inn's Spa is housed in the glassed-in atrium.

A bit of Asheville's skyline can be seen at the left half of the photo.
Part of the golf course.  Obama played here and his golf clubs are on display in the Inn.
A closer look at the Asheville skyline.
I think Arnie's house is located halfway up the small mountain just above the large church at the middle of right side of the photo.
 The sun played hide and seek with us during the day, but was out in force as we enjoyed Pisco Sours on the Sunset Terrace.
A drink with a view.
It was a lovely day, all the better for having the house key in my pocket.


  1. Very athletic break in there Wilma! Beautiful photographs and interesting day out I would say.

    1. It was an interesting day. I think I earned my Pisco Sour!

  2. An fantastic unique building. Brilliant historical photos. Amazing a petrol vehicle then had the power to pull all that weight.

    1. The building and grounds have been beautifully maintained and I really enjoyed the historical displays. I was impressed with that car-train. I can't imagine that it was capable of pulling upgrade, though. The quarry was also on Sunset Mountain and I bet it was either above or at the same altitude as the Inn.

  3. Like John, I was impressed with that car pulling all those trailers and certainly a fabulous Inn to visit.
    So what is a Pisco Sours made of.

    1. A Pisco Sour is a refreshing drink that is tart and slightly sweet with a hint of bitters to offset the sweet. Pisco is a South American brandy (had to look it up) and here is a Pisco Sour recipe:
      2 to 3 oz Pisco
      1 oz Fresh lime juice ( or lemon if no lime available)
      .5 oz Simple syrup
      1 Fresh egg white (some recipes omit this)
      Angostura Bitters

  4. Before leaving the US 4+ years ago, I read an photo feature about the Grove Park Inn. It was fascinating. What an amazing place. Your photos are gorgeous. But my favourite is your break-in shot.

    1. Thanks, Mitchell. There is a lot of fascinating history that took place at the Inn. For example I learned that during WWII, the Inn was an internment for Axis diplomats and their staff.
      I couldn't resist posting the break-in shot. :-)

  5. Mmm, the recipe for Pisco Sour looks great, just need a nice hot day to go with it.

    Seeing your comment on the Weaver of Grass's blog, yes I think you should do a post about your nearby flooding, it'll be interesting.

    1. I will try to get over there to take some pictures. We also have tidal flooding at our back dock when it rains this much. Thinking of putting in a floating dock back there sometime in the future. Will add that to the list of projects ...

  6. Wilma,
    I'm sorry we missed you on your recent visit. We were in between houses and everything was up in the air. Asheville is really a pretty spot and Silke and I have always enjoyed visiting. It would have been cool to hook up.
    While we were visiting my parents (couch surfing) I had to show them your post on the solar panels. Dad was very impressed and is looking into it further.
    The photos you took of your trip are awesome. Fall is my favorite time of year and the colors are really spectacular. Your documented break in is one for the books.

    Take care,

    Nick and Silke

    1. Too bad our timing was off; it would have been great to see you. I thought about you two when I saw all the local microbrews! Glad you got out of South Carolina before the flooding there. What a mess and heartbreak! MN gets such wonderful bright sun in the winter. I think solar would do very well there. Cheers!

  7. Breaking iand entering n through upper floor windows? A potentially useful skill to have.....................

    1. Quite useful, Stuart! I had practice as a teenager sneaking out and then, of course, having to sneak back in. I remember it being easier 45 years ago ...

  8. Interesting post indeed. And from a former Rochester denizen. We live in nearby Spring Valley and Roch. is our go to shopping place...:)

    1. Hi Troutbirder - thanks for visiting and commenting! I do miss shopping in Rochester. And summers in that part of the world are hard to beat. I'll be visiting and following your blog. See you 'round! Cheers.


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