In today’s episode, we’re taking a dive into the history behind how Asheville became Artsville, with Tom Anders from Grovewood Gallery! Located in the historic Grovewood Village, which once housed the weaving and woodworking operations of Biltmore Industries, Grovewood Gallery is nationally recognized for its dedication to fine American art and craft. With 9,000 square feet of artisan-made jewelry, textiles, pottery, glass, and more, Grovewood highlights the important contributions of over 400 artists and craftspeople from across the United States.
Tuning in, you’ll learn about the important contributions that the Vanderbilt family made to the artistic hub that Asheville is today and gain some insight into the handmade legacy that the Biltmore Industries Homespun Museum preserves and continues. We also touch on how the history of Grovewood Village started with a malaria remedy, the fascinating story behind the Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum and Harry Blomberg’s passion for automobiles, what you can expect from your visit to Grovewood Village in the present day, as well as Tom’s personal history in Asheville, and so much more! Tune in today to discover this local treasure that offers a glimpse into an important part of Asheville’s story!
Grovewood Village - Episode Key Points:
- Get a glimpse into the history of Grovewood and Downtown Asheville from Louise and Daryl.
- Tom shares his perspective on how the Vanderbilts helped Asheville become Artsville.
- Learn more about George Vanderbilt, who founded Biltmore Estate in 1895.
- What Tom’s role as curator, manager, and local historian at Grovewood entails.
- The genesis of Biltmore Industries and how they came to be known for their woolen fabric.
- The history of Grovewood Village, which starts with Edwin Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic.
- What led to the decline of Biltmore Industries and how the textile industry shifted.
- How Fred Seely made Biltmore Homespun fabrics popular with people nationwide.
- The story of the Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum, founded by Harry Blomberg in 1966.
- Hear about the collection of vintage cars and horse drawn carriages that Tom oversees.
- Tom reflects on the market value of this collection, which includes some very rare cars.
- How Grovewood Village offers a little something for everyone, no matter their interests.
- Tom introduces us to some of the artists and artisans working in Grovewood today.
- Tom shares his own personal history in Asheville, where he was born in 1958.
- Unpacking Edith Vanderbilt’s progressive approach and the YMI Cultural Center.
- Parting thoughts from Tom on how George and Bill Cecil have transformed Asheville.
“Before long, the woolen fabric that [Biltmore Industries was] producing became a more important part of their operation. It was bringing in more income because the wooden pieces had to be made very carefully by hand. It was a very slow, tedious process but, once they got eight looms going, they could make a pretty good bit of woolen fabric. People would buy a few yards of it and take it home and make a jacket or a suit and they would say, ‘Wow! That Biltmore Homespun is some really nice fabric.’ Of course, Edith Vanderbilt was not going to be represented by any fabric that was less than really nice, because she was Edith Vanderbilt!” — Tom Anders [0:15:11]
“[Fred] Seely was really the important figure in this whole story because he [knew] that he could turn Edith Vanderbilt’s cottage industry into something very special. He not only produced fabric for the guests of the Grove Park Inn, which would have been all these famous people who were having their clothing custom made, but he produced fabric at a cost that was attractive for buyers all over the country to order fabric by the yard at a time when even middle-class people would maybe be making their clothing by hand at home. Biltmore Homespun fabric would be available at a price point that was affordable for people to order fabric by the yard.” — Tom Anders [0:31:35]
“What is it about Asheville that makes George Vanderbilt want to live there, that makes [Edwin] Grove want to build this luxury hotel there? Like a lot of people still do today, they come to Asheville, they fall in love, and they want to live here.” — Tom Anders [0:21:31]
“At one point in the late ‘20s, early ‘30s, Biltmore Homespun and Biltmore Industries was one of the largest handwaving operations in the country. Fred Seely was also instrumental in bringing a number of other textile operations to the United States.” — Tom Anders [0:32:20]
“Whether you’re interested in the history of Asheville, or the history of the arts and crafts movement in Asheville, or the history of the Grove Park Inn, or just interested in old cars, we’ve got a little something for everybody.” — Tom Anders [0:44:16]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Grovewood Village Episode:
Tom Anders on LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-anders-152032152/
Tom Anders Email — firstname.lastname@example.org
Grovewood Village — https://www.grovewood.com/
Grovewood Gallery — https://www.grovewood.com/grovewood-gallery/
Biltmore Industries Homespun Museum — https://www.grovewood.com/biltmore-industries-homespun-museum/
Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum — https://www.grovewood.com/antique-car-museum/
The Abell Flute Company — https://www.abellflute.com/
YMI Cultural Center — https://www.ymiculturalcenter.org/
Artsville Podcast —
Scott “Sourdough” Power — https://www.notarealartist.com/
Louise Glickman — https://www.louiseglickman.com/
Daryl Slaton — http://www.tailsofwhimsy.com/
Crewest Studio — https://creweststudio.com/
Sand Hill Artists Collective (SHAC) — https://sandhillartists.com/