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One of the country's first indoor public markets, the Grove Arcade became the center of commercial and civic life in Asheville-despite opening in the year of the Depression, 1929. The federal government took over the complex in World War II as part of the national war effort, evicting 74 shops and 127 offices with less than a month's notice. After the war the feds retained control of the Grove Arcade despite calls from Ashevillians to return the Grove Arcade to its original use. Half a century later, the arcade reopened, bringing sustainable economic development and social vitality to the community. This program celebrates the reopening of this landmark.
In 1910 a self-made millionaire named E.W. Grove moved to Asheville with a vision to revitalize the city. Understanding that a city's downtown area was the secret to its success, Grove began drawing plans for businesses that would draw attention to the city. In 1915, he completed the Grove Park Inn, and in the early 1920s he began to design an elegant new building filled with shops, offices and apartments.
The base of the building had just been completed in 1927 when Grove died. Even unfinished, it filled 269,000 square feet, the largest building in the region. The Grove Arcade opened two years later, quickly filling with candy and cigar stores, a haberdashery, a public stenography office, fruit stands, specialty groceries and more, making it the new center of commercial and civic life in western North Carolina.
During World War II, the Arcade suddenly filled a different purpose-its large size and remote location made it an excellent military center. With less than one month's notice, 74 shops and 127 offices closed their doors. The federal government maintained ownership of the Arcade after the war, making it the headquarters for the National Climatic Data Center. As public support grew to return the Arcade to its original purpose, the government announced plans in the 1980s to enlarge and remodel the Arcade building and placed it on the National Register of Historical Places.
After several private developers proposed their plans for redeveloping the Arcade, a group of community leaders and citizens formed the Grove Arcade Public Market Foundation to restore the building to its original form and function. Shortly afterwards, the federal government announced a new building for its National Climatic Data Center. The new building was completed in 1995, leaving the Grove Arcade free for development.
In 1997 the city of Asheville signed a 198-year lease with the Foundation and began to restore the building. The Grove Arcade opened in late 2002, reflecting its original form with shops, restaurants, offices and luxury apartments, and remaining western North Carolina's largest commercial building.
Click here to visit the Grove Aracade website.