Asheville’s Landmark of History and American Arts & Crafts
By Natasha Kubis
One of Asheville’s most beloved hubs for culture, history, arts, crafts, and antiques is the treasured Grovewood Village, located adjacent to the Omni Grove Park Inn.
Visitors can easily spend a half-day delighting in this 11-acre property which showcases an outdoor sculpture garden, two museums, a restaurant, and a renowned gallery that features 100% American-made crafts from more than 300 artists.
This historic property once housed the weaving and woodworking operations of Biltmore Industries, a force in American craft initially backed by Edith Vanderbilt. Biltmore Industries relocated here in 1917 and became the world’s largest producer of handwoven wool by 1930. The property, with its six cottages built from 1917 – 1924, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A visit to Grovewood Village is a delight for both history buffs and art lovers and includes the following highlights:
Biltmore Industries Homespun Museum
Located in the heart of Grovewood Village, this humble, one-room museum presents a historical overview of Biltmore Industries and the property. On display is an antique 4-harness loom and memorabilia such as letters, artifacts, and photographs depicting the active years of the industry.
Starting as a craft education program in Biltmore Village, the business was sold to Fred Loring Seely in 1917 (Edwin Grove’s son-in-law). It was moved to the current Grovewood Village site. Under Seely’s direction, the industry became one of the world’s largest producers of handwoven wool.
Orders were shipped as far as China and Uruguay, and customers included Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Helen Keller, and several U.S. presidents and first ladies.
The Grovewood Gallery showcases a wide range of fine crafts, from furniture and lighting to jewelry and ceramics. The gallery’s second floor houses an impressive collection of American-made studio furniture and lighting. The gallery is nationally recognized for its dedication to fine American art and craft.
The current painting exhibition is called In a Minor Key by Shawn Krueger and runs through July 31. His work focuses on landscapes and scenes in nature and is rooted in the American arts and crafts and tonalist traditions. The annual Vessels of Merriment exhibition opens on November 12 and will feature a variety of ceramic drinking vessels by American studio potters.
The Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum
See 19 classic beauties and some horse-drawn vehicles at Grovewood Village’s antique car museum. Asheville native Harry Blomberg purchased Biltmore Industries in 1953. Harry got his start in the automobile industry in 1923 when he was just 19 years old, opening one of the first filling stations in town.
He was Asheville’s Cadillac-Pontiac dealer for over half a century and the founder of modern-day Harry’s on The Hill. The museum features Harry’s collection of antique and vintage automobiles. The museum is housed in Biltmore Industries’ former weaving shed, which used to house 40+ looms.
The museum also features two enormous custom-made Roycroft chandeliers (circa 1918) designed by Karl Kipp – creator of some of the most sought-after metalwork of the arts and crafts movement. They once hung in Overlook, or as locals call it, Seely’s Castle.
The Sculpture Garden
Have a picnic in the outdoor sculpture garden while taking in the exceptional views and occasional wildlife spotting. There are picnic tables available for those who want to bring lunch. Grovewood Village’s best-selling outdoor sculpture artist is Lyman Whitaker.
His kinetic wind sculptures dot the landscape, are responsive to the slightest breeze, and are designed to endure gale-force winds.
Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner at Eldr Restaurant
Eldr is a collaboration between local restaurateurs Carson Lucci and chef Eric Burleson of the much loved Over Easy Café and Heather and Jim Cassidy of Pulp + Sprout and All Day Darling.
Chef Eric, a Spruce Pine native and a fixture on Asheville’s local food scene for over 15 years, brings his signature culinary talents and love of seasonal, Appalachian, and heritage-raised ingredients to every dish on the menu. Visit their website for menu offerings at eldravl.com
“Grovewood Village is Asheville’s hidden gem. The grounds are beautiful beneath the shade of mature pine trees, inviting you to pause, take a deep breath, and soak in the views and the historical heritage of Asheville. To miss this is to miss what first made Asheville the ‘Arts and Crafts Capital of the South.”
Bruce Johnson, Author of Built for the Ages: A History of the Grove Park Inn