Introduction

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Article 1

Seelys Castle, An Asheville Wonder

Article 2

Buying Seelys Castle

Article 3

A Mans Castle Is His Home

Article 4

Furnishing The Great Room

Article 5

The Library

Article 6

Warm Parties in the Cold Castle

Article 7

Miss Beaulah Young

Article 8

Generals, Guards, and Guests

Article 9

Annual Parties

Article 10

Charlotte Street Jam

Article 11

Asheville Sprawl

Article 12

Education Frustration

Article 13

Martin Nesbitt

Article 14

Graffiti

Article 15

Gospel Langren Hotel

Article 16

Fighting City Hall

Article 17

Rebutting Riverlink

Article 18

Confessions of a Recovering Racist

Article 19

Sin City

Article 20

Moonshine Memories

Article 21

Shot Heard Round Buncome County

Article 22

Long Arm of the Law

Article 23

Luck of the Draw

Article 24

Birth of Ashevilles Riverfront

Article 25

Ballad of King Coal

Article 26

Hard Times and Cheap Thrills

Article 27

Cataclysmic Change

Article 28

Honor Flight

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Article 15

Gospel Langren Hotel

A few thousand years from now when archeologist sifting through the remains of the ancient town of Asheville will determine that the Langren hotel was sited on the bank of the French broad river.

The reason is, that is where we put it.

The story begins in 1964. My partner Jack Doloboff and I were in the surplus and salvage business and had done a couple of small demolitions including a small hotel on Patton avenue and Montieths service station about where the Bank of Asheville has their offices now.

We found out that the Langren hotel was going to be demolished to build a parking garage for Asheville’s first new sky scraper, the North Western Bank Building, since the Jackson Building was built in the 1930ies.

We succeeded in buying the contents of the building including all the furniture, and fixtures and we had 60 days to remove them.

We toured the still barely operating hotel which had once been a premier commercial hostelry and had deteriorated into a flop house and operating facility for ladies of the night.

The hotel engineer Barney Woodson, a proper southern gentleman, showed us through the almost abandoned hotel. When we passed certain doors, he would giggle indicating that there was still some commercial activity taking place.

He later became chief engineer of the new Northwestern Bank Building and was succeeded by his son Barney Woodson jr.

We set up for business at the front desk and business was brisk spurred by the ubiquitous and beloved radio announcer “Farmer Russ Offhous” who plugged our sales on his popular morning talk show on WSKY radio.

We literally sold the contents to the walls.

Whole rooms went for $25 including furniture and fixtures including the old leg tubs and doors.

Some people would even go to the trouble to take up the ratty carpet which one could practically see through.

I have watched people buy the most ridiculous “stuff” at liquidation, estate, bankruptcy, distress and going out of business sales. I am convinced that many are motivated by superstition that by owning a talisman from a dead person or entity they are staving off their own death wish.

There was lots of marble in the building and customers would buy it and remove it from the walls.

In the men’s room there was marble behind the urinals. When the buyer removed it he got a big surprise. There were scores of men’s billfolds deposited in the space between the marble and the wall.

We could only surmise that drunks who were being entertained by the ladies had been rolled and this was a convenient place to dispose of the evidence.

In the middle of all the chaos people would still show up and try to rent a room. My partner Jack had a really difficult time convincing a young couple with a cardboard suitcase who had just married that they could not stay in the hotel where their parents had spent their honeymoon years ago.

The bid for the demolition of this 8 story building had been awarded to Garland E Crouch, who was a hard driving hard drinking obstreperous bull of a man who was the best house mover to ever operate in these parts.

G.E. was what we call a level headed feller. He chewed tobacco and the juice ran down both sides of his mouth at the same time.

His foreman was none other than the infamous Harry P. Clay who later became High Sheriff of Buncombe County.

I was in Knoxville Tennessee and ran into Ralph Sweat a building dismantler. I told him about the contract. He looked at the building and agreed to take it down for half the bid price. We bought the contract from Crouch, split the profit and subbed it to Sweat.

Apparently Mr. Sweat did not realize that this was a poured concrete and steel reinforced structure (rare for the times) and Lady Langren did not succumb to his assault gracefully.

The building was finally dismantled and the rubble was moved to a site on riverside drive which shall remain anonymous until the archeologist locate it.

The original building on the lot at Broadway and College Street was the Bull hotel. It was torn down to build the Langren hotel. The Langren was torn down to build a parking building and now the parking building is being torn down to build the new AC Hotel.

Is this a great country or what?


Asheville native Jerry Sternberg, a longtime observer of the local scene, can be reached at gospeljerry@aol.com.

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