Thursday, August 25, 2011

Willis Irvin, Architect

We have tracked down the architect for the Ivy Building.  Here is some information from the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).  Remarks from the Geogia SHPO and NC SHPO are anticipated soon.  These are just the properties in South Carolina that have been listed on the National Register to date.  Many others exist in South Carolina, some of which we can assume would be eligible to listing themselves.  Today, we believe that the Ivy Building may be the only North Carolina commission Willis Irvin undertook and could be associated with the influence of a well-to-do family from Aiken, SC or Augusta, GA that was associated with Saint Genevieve's and may have known Irvin and brought him to Asheville.

Dear Mr. Thomson,

Thank you for your inquiry.  Here is just a little that we know about Willis Irvin (1891-1950).

Willis Irvin was a noted and talented architect out of Aiken, South Carolina, and Augusta, Georgia.  Born in 1891 in Washington, Georgia, he was a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology [Georgia Tech].  Known regionally as the designer of elegant rural estates in the early-to-mid-twentieth century, many of which are in the lowcountry of South Carolina, built for wealthy northern clients, he maintained his architectural office in Augusta while actually residing in Aiken.  He died in Aiken at his home Irvin Court in 1950.

A number of his designs are actually listed in the National Register, either individually or as parts of National Register-listed historic districts.  They include:

Aiken Winter Colony Historic District I, Aiken, Aiken County, SC -

    1.  Calico Cottage, ca. 1930, with 4 outbuildings

    2.  Rye Field, 553 Sumter Street, ca. 1931

    3.  Sunshine (now the Green Boundary Club), 780 Whiskey Road, ca. 1928

Aiken Winter Colony Historic District II -

    1.  Banksia, 435 Newberry Street, 1931

    2.  Oak Knoll, 447 York Street, ca. 1927

    3.  Nawanda, 319 S. Boundary Street, ca. 1928

Aiken Winter Colony Historic District III -

    1.  Idylwood, 718 Hayne Avenue, ca. 1923

Whitehall, 902 Magnolia Street, Aiken, Aiken County, SC, ca. 1928

Pickens House (Edgewood), 1829 house moved in 1929 from Edgefield County to Aiken by Eulalie Chafee Salley, and restored by Willis Irvin

Chancellor James P. Carroll House (aka Irvin Court), 112 Gregg Avenue, Aiken, Aiken County, SC, a ca. 1855 house, owned by Willis Irvin, who added substantial wings to the house in 1930.

James L. Coker, III House, 620 West Carolina Avenue, Hartsville, Darlington County, SC, ca. 1931

C.K. Dunlap House, 1346 West Carolina Avenue, Hartsville, Darlington County, SC, 1934

East Home Avenue Historic District, Hartsville, Darlington County, SC -

    C.W. Coker House, 222 East Home Avenue, Hartsville, SC, a contributing property in the East Home Avenue Historic District; 1934 remodeling of earlier house

Bamberg Historic District, Bamberg, Bamberg County, SC -

    First Baptist Church, Bamberg, 1928

Beaufort Historic District, Beaufort, Beaufort County, SC -

    Beaufort County Courthouse, 1503 Bay Street, Beaufort, 1936 remodeling

Rose Hill Plantation House, Bluffton vicinity, Beaufort County, SC, a ca. 1858-1860 house renovated and most of original fabric painstakingly preserved; all new construction matched to style of house, ca. 1946-1949 by Willis Irvin; severely damaged by fire on February 10, 1987; exterior and some of interior restored subsequently

You may access all National Register records on our website:   Here is the link to these records:

Hope this is of help to you.  Irvin's projects in South Carolina are quite extensive, many of his designs remaining, some having been demolished.  Others have been determined eligible for the National Register, but have not been nominated and listed yet.  If you have any further questions, I'll be happy to try to help.  By the way, for what Irvin-designed property in Asheville are you advocating?

Look forward to hearing from you,

Andy Chandler

Monday, July 18, 2011

Famous Faces at St. Genevieve's

Written By Kieta Osteen- Cochrane
Attending St. Genevieve's K-12, the auditorium was a big part of my life. There were plays, choral performances, sports, science fairs, holiday celebrations. We learned southern folk dances as well as the box step and the waltz, however reluctantly at first. At afternoon dances in 8th grade, we practiced the social graces as we met with Gibbons hall for our first anxiety ridden boy girl interactions. Dance cards are passe now, but at that time it was one way young men and girls learned how to meet, be cordial to everyone, carry on polite conversations, and practice good manners. Later at junior and senior proms we trekked up the stairs to the balcony to meet the nuns with our dates. Having been thoroughly rehearsed on the fine points of introductions. However, what I remember most are the speakers who came to the auditorium and their influence on idealism, to widen our world, and inspire our visions. Helen Keller spoke to us. How glorious her courage and determination and that of her beloved teacher. Basque separatists made us aware of the struggles for freedom in Franco's Spain and their mortal sacrifices. Missionaries continuing the work of Father Damien came from Molokai. We learned about Father Damien's selfless work with the lepers there and were greatful for our own blessings, and humbled at taking them for granted. How could we help? Dr. Tom Dooley spoke to us about his medical work in Laos, his charisma and quiet zeal lighting fires within. In later years the Peace Corps was modeled in large part after his work there. Generations of students were given inspiration within the walls of what is now the Ivy building, while learning about our culture, and to appreciate other cultures long before it was a curriculum requirement, science, art, the world, our responsibiities in it, respect for everyone as a child of God, and many other things. This is the last building of a school that began on faith with a small group of dedicated women who wanted to teach, and turned out students eager to make their world a better place however large or small that personal world would be. The nuns came from Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland. They had lived through WW2. The stories of survival and underground they told were stunning. We learned one person can make a difference, and one at a time with others can change the world. Many times the nuns and our lay teachers would remind us that we had a vocation in life and we should meditate on finding it. Perhaps homemakers, careers, or the contemplative. We had a reason for being beyond self interest. This building is the last of an era that had a huge influence on the city and drew students from many countries. It is the very symbol of how brick and mortar of education translates into building a better society. I hope it will be preserved as such a symbol while continuing to be used to educate and illuminate. How sad if it should be demolished for a parking lot! It should stand as a shining symbol, just as Fernihurst and Sunnicrest still stand on their histories, and are jewels on the campus.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Recreation at the Ivy Building

                                                    Written by Mike Strong, Class of 1960
      I have lots of time to reminisce because every time I tune in my Orioles they are losing-big time-7-0 in the first inning tonight. It gets old, but I never give up. Look at the Cub fans--they've been waiting since 1908. I've only been waiting since 1983.
 Before I sign off tonight--more Ivy Hall--
     Do you remember the Christmas concerts before we would recess for a three week vacation? Thanks to all of the boarding students at SGP we would get an extrended break which would allow us to take the memorable 1958 trip to Rochester and Buffalo with Mayron. The combined schools would gather at Ivy Hall for a concert, carols, & then a recess that would include every student receiving a stocking of goodies as they exited the hall for their extended vacation.
    By my 8th grade (Form) a recent Notre Dame grad-Mr. McGraw-had arrived on campus. He was a dynamo from Texas and was active in the Asheville Little Theatre. I remember being thrilled to see him acting in the play "Inherit the Wind" and thinking that I knew a "real actor." Anyway, because of his theatrical background, he was very involved with that year's Christmas pageant at SGP & GH. I was selected to portray one of the Three Wise Men. Fake beards woudn't do. McGraw spent alot of time applying some special goo and then affixing the "real" beards. I'm sure we looked authentic, but what I remember is that it took several days to remove all traces of his "authentic" beards!
   McGraw was a breath of fresh air to the students who were used to the formal Headmaster Daniel Pinto and his sidekick Joe Lalley. Lalley drove an old beat up station wagon to school every day. McGraw showed up with a white Impala convertible with red upholstery! He not only was an ND grad, which in those days was considered just this side of heaven, but he was a former member of the Irish swimming team. He soon instituted a swimming program at Gibbons Hall and was soon adopted by the Patton family whose son Tim was quite a swimmer. Tim was a year ahead of me at GH. Somewhere along the line he had been held back a year so that he was actually two years older than I was. He had a sister named Kathleen, a class ahead of me at SGP. As an upperclassman, Tim became my hero (it also may  have been because I was completely enamored by his pretty sister.)
   The Pattons were from Cleveland, their dad associated,  as I remember, with the Beacon MFG company. Because they were 'Yankees" as mom & dad were and Catholics to boot, they became friends. I remember spending an evening at their home along Country Club Road, sitting with Tim & Kathleen on the living room floor, as McGraw regaled us with stories about his Notre Dame College days. McGraw would not only be involved with school theatrics but he would help institute a swimming program at Gibbons Hall. Not having a pool, the "all-in" mandatory program (as all athletics were at Gibbons Hall) was held at the Asheville YMCA. The following summer, aided by Nancy Merkie Lees. McGraw helped coach a competitive swim team at the Manor Swim Club.
   The swim clubs in Asheville in the late 1950s were illustrative of the discrimination policies that not only affected blacks but those of certain religious faiths. Of course blacks were excluded at that time from all clubs. But the Biltmore Club excluded those of the Catholic and Jewish faith. The Asheville County Club accepted Catholics but not Jews. The Manor Club accepted Catholics, but "frowned" on Jews. The Grove Park Inn at that time had a swim club that accepted those of the Jewish faith. I remember as a kid, how my friends from Gibbons Hall, who were from all different faiths, would comment about how "weird" our parents were regarding the faith differences. As the 1960's dawned our questioning of our parents "preferences" was unwittingly laying the groundwork for the more enlightened day that lay ahead.

Lessons That Carry On- St. Genevieve's and the Ivy Building

                                                 Written by Mike Strong, Class of 1960
           As I reflect on the old schools & Ivy Hall, my class of "60, was the first I think to have attended the new kindergarten. Mother Hershey, assisted by Mother Monk (one of the original RCE founders) and a young Spanish woman, who would later become the wife of Joseph Lalley, were our instructors. The class was 1/2 day and co-ed. First form, Mother Joubert,  we were in a large room behind what had been the old hotel. My memory is somwhat vague for that year--the year I learned to read "Dick and Jane". I think that we might have been co-ed that year. I remember being chosen along with Susan Patterson to portray the founding priest and first nun of the RCE. We were dressed up and stood on the stage at Ivy Hall in front of the admiring sisters and Reverend Mother Sharry who was the head of the order and was visiting from Boston. Her visits were always a BIG deal. 
          To get from our class to Ivy Hall we had to walk through the bowels of the old hotel--down a dark and winding tunnel. Always frightening, but always exciting at the same time. Because of the burgeoning success of the boys school, the class was now segregated. By Second Form- Mother Day- we were placed in a room alongside of the old hotel--it appeared to have been part of an old greenhouse. This room though had a special cupboard that held each student's papers and lunch boxes. Third Form presented another dilemma. We were reunited with Mother Hache and placed in a room at the SGP Secretarial School. Here all of the young boys were fawned over by the 18-20 yr old female students. I remember that we all fell in love with Stewart Pegram--the most beautiful girl anyone had ever seen. Later that year they moved us to the old building (former hotel) and placed us on the 2nd or 3rd floor. The advantage of this was that we now had to move past and through any assembly of SGP's students. This always created quite a commotion.
          By Fourth Form they had assembled us in the old Gibbons Hall Carriage House. There we would move from one room on the first floor to another and then to the second floor where 6th & 7th Forms would be regulated by a no-nonsense but respected RCE nun, Mother Farragher. She was Boston Irish and never let us forget it. She shared her love of Boston sports and was an outstanding instructor from a large Irish family and knew how to handle a bunch of rowdy adolescents who were starting to feel their oats.
         By 8th Form we were housed in Pinto's home. Our classroom also housed the school "library", which simply consisted of built-in bookshelves that surrounded the classroom. The shelves contained all of the Landmark series of biographies and American histories. We were given free rein to the books. In fact, we were required to read and write a book report each month from 4th form through 8th form. Each summer we would be given a list of "suggested" reading and were supposed to deliver book reports from summer reading the following fall. I recently asked my 6th grade and 8th grade grandkids if they have to write book reports. The answer was "no." Sixty years of declining test scores in reading, writing, geography, history, language skills, etc. Could we use their system today? We were all blessed to have been part of the vision of those who administered SGP & GH.
       Not only was the system demanding in the class room--French in first grade; Latin by fourth grade; etc. but the system demanded developing public speaking skills, no matter how terrifying that might be. Gibbons Hall had a program dubbed the "Thespians." Under the tutorial of Miss Buquo and Mother Farragher 6th-7th-8th form students were given roles in student productions such as "Julius Caesar" and "Tom Sawyer" (I was dropped from Caesar--too much carrying on) but played Judge Thatcher in Tom Sawyer.)
      Students didn't "try out", they were assigned roles and given the scripts and were told to learn them! Relentless practices would result in perfection. The productions and the positive response from the audiences went a long way, I'm sure, in instilling self confidence in the performers.
      Another way that self confidence was instilled in the students was during the lunch room sessions at Ivy Hall. Each 8th Form student was designated a "captain" of his lunch table. The eight seat table, three on each side, and a student at each end, was made up of students from each form. The 8th Form student was in charge of saying grace before meals, maintaining order, supervising meal clean-up, and making certain announcements during lunch time. The hi-light of these announcements was when the 8th former had to give a verbal report to the entire student body about the annual 8th form trip to Washington, D. C.  These were very stressful, but in looking back it was the kind of training that should be required of every 8th grader today.

St. Genevieve's and the Civil Rights Movement

                                                Written by Mike Strong, Class of 1960
        In my memories of Ivy Hall I mentioned the news of our neighbors the York's son's death in Viet Nam. It so happens that the "traveling wall" is in York this week. I went out to visit today and found his name, Don Joseph York, died 14 July, 1962.. He is listed on the very first panel, 10th row. The panels start in 1959 during the Eisenhower Administration, long before Johnson & Nixon arrived upon the scene to receive most of the blame.
        In thinking about the old auditorium a flood of memories have come back. Long before it was considered the right thing to do to stand up for Civil Rights I remember our remarkable Headmaster, Daniel Pinto, having the moral courage to stand up to the very bigoted Buncombe County sheriff - name escapes me but he was the very embodiment of a Broderick Crawford type or Alabama's Bull Connor. The year would have been 1959-60. The sheriff came to Gibbons Hall & gathered us in Ivy Hall to discuss the beneifts of joining the "Junior Deputy" program of Buncombe County. One of the benefits would be to receive a special badge emblazoned "Junior Deputy." Of course all of the boys wanted one. The real benefit for the county was that in order to receive the badge you would be finger-printed.  He warned us about "outside agitators" and the "communist threat" and the evil influence of shifty "nigras."
       This is where Daniel Pinto stepped in. Pinto was a Princeton man I believe. He was always attired in a tweed sport coat and always wore a bow tie. This contrasted dramatically with the short sleeved,, sweaty sheriff.. Pinto interrupted him and said "I think the correct pronunciation is NEGRO. The sheriff grew red in the face and broke into a sweat as all of the boys could sense the tension in the auditorium. He slightly changed the inflexion but it still came out with the emphasis on "NIG". Pinto reminded him that we were "Gentlemen" and that true southern gentlemen pronounced the word "Negro." Exasperated, to continue the sheriff had to say "Negro." We all silently applauded our hero Daniel Pinto.
      My class of 1960 would be his last class as he had accepted the position of headmaster at the American School on Rome. We were not the only ones to recognize his stature. Tragically, that summer he was killed in a plane crash on the way to Rome. The same crash that killed so many of Atlanta's leading citizens who were on their way to observe the Rome Olympics in preparation for a possible future Olympics in the United States. If Ivy Hall is preserved there should be a memorial plaque placed  recognizing the role that Daniel Pinto played in educating a ten year window of Asheville's young men.

Remembering the Ivy Building

                                               Written by Mike Strong, class of 1960
        Do you remember when we used to go to Stuveysant Rd to catch the blue St. Gen. bus? Sometimes we'd get a ride to the bus stop, but often we had to make the walk home-about a mile. We'd take a short-cut through the woods by the old Biltmore Forest stables, walking on the old riding paths. Imagine that today! We'd sometimes stop by the stables to climb on the old stage coach, or to feed the horses. The site is where today's Carolina Day School is located. Across the Hendersonville Road was the Spinning Wheel Restaurant.
       If you remember, Mother Flynn was always riding "shotgun" and the driver was a black man named Raymond. Every school child was required to say "good morning Mother Flynn, good morning Raymond." And when we arrived at Ivy Hall, every child was required to say "good bye Mother Flynn, thank you Raymond."
      This continued until we were lucky enough to have Dr. Pat Clark move in with his wife's father, Francis Hazel. Francis was dad's attorney and lived in the old Memminger Estate about two miles south of our place at 1556 Hendersonville Road. Memminger was the Secrectary of the Treasury for the old Confederacy. The Memminger's were from Charleston, S.C. , and the estate was their summer home during Yellow Fever season. Unfortunately, it would later be torn down when the Gerber Baby Food bottling plant took over the site. An example of why "Historic Preservation" is so important!
      Dr. Clark's daughter was in our sister Chris' class and their son Chip was a classmate of brother Mark. Since he was working at Memorial Hospital, Dr. Clark  soon began picking us up and we no longer needed to make the trek to the bus stop. But if you wanted to get into town on a Saturday or during the summer the same bus stop routine was required to ride the public bus. We would usually be the only white people on the bus as it worked its way through Biltmore Forest picking up or dropping off the "colored" maids. I remember the ride through "Shiloh" and seeing the contrast between genteel Biltmore Forest and the world of the black community.

 The public bus would deliver us to Pack Square where we could visit the Pack Memoriall Library, attend a "show" (not a movie) at the Plaza or cross the street and explore the wonders of the Army-Navy Store, or Finklesteins Pawn shop.
      Leo Finklestein was a classmate at Gibbons Hall. I later read in one of the Carolina Day School newsletters that he was a Lt. Col. in the Air Force. I often wondered if his interest in space was initiated by a fellow classmate named Eric Brandenburg. Eric came to Gibbons Hall in 5th or 6th grade from Switzerland. His father was associtated with the IGB Farben Chemical plant in Swannanoah. Eric spoke several languages and it didn't take him long to become the top student in our class. I was always amazed that he was our top English student. Eric was fascinated with airplanes, and soon started a model airplane club that would meet at his garage in Kennilworth. Leo & I were enthusiastic members. Sometimes we'd meet at Eric's house, sometimes at Leo's near Beaver Lake.
     At the time St. Gen & GH held a science fair at Ivy Hall. It was mandatory that every student have an entry. It was probably as stressful for the parents as it was for the students. No one wanted to be embarrassed by their kids clunky exhibit! I remember the amazing diorama of WW I bi-planes that Eric put together depicting the dogfights of that war. It may have been all of this that inspired Leo Finklestein to his career in the Air Force.
    Remembering Leo made me realize what a differse community SG/GH was. Although operated by the nuns of the RCE it was a school open to all faiths (although probalby not to all races). My class had I think 16 students--5 Catholics, 3 of the Jewish faith, and the remainder from a variety o Protestant Faiths. As a result we were all exposed to and learned a special respect for all faiths at an early age.
   It was a special place and a special time--and it laid a foundation for a life time. I hold three degrees of higher education and taught at the college level but still feell that the best teachers I ever encountered were those in Asheville at SG/GH.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Asheville City Council honors Restoration Program

Jan Trainor watches Tim Hanlon cast plaster at Restoration workshop.

The text below is from the mayoral proclamation presented  Tuesday, June 28.  Stay tuned for PSABC remarks from same meeting!!

WHEREAS, the Decorative Restoration program at A-B Technical Community College was founded in 1988 as a cooperative venture with the Biltmore Estate. Students have come from as far away as Alaska and Vermont to take advantage of the only full-time program of its kind in the country, which graduated its final class this year; and

          WHEREAS, the program has graduated nearly 300 students, all skilled artisans, a number of whom have begun thriving restoration businesses all across the country and have worked on the restoration of historic artifacts and buildings, churches and cathedrals; and

WHEREAS, two passionate and visionary teachers have guided the Decorative Restoration program during its 23 years: Derick Tickle, a master craftsman who previously taught for London’s distinguished City & Guilds, arrived from England in 1989 and directed the program until his retirement in 2005 when Tim Hanlon, a 1997 graduate of the program, took over its leadership; and


WHEREAS, we have these two instructors and their students to thank for the beautifully restored ceiling of the County Courthouse, which took six years to complete, and for the uniquely decorative foyer and Council Chamber of City Hall; and

WHEREAS, we appreciate the program’s philosophy that the greenest building is the one already built. The Decorative Restoration program has helped keep Asheville’s heritage intact for today and tomorrow. Through its contributions, Asheville’s citizens learn to appreciate our historic buildings, their decoration and construction, and to preserve them for future generations.

          NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terry Bellamy, Mayor of the City of Asheville, do hereby recognize the

                   Decorative Restoration Program

at A-B Technical College as an exemplary program, which has made a significant contribution in the preservation of historic buildings in Asheville.

          IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the City of Asheville, North Carolina, to be affixed this 28th day of June, 2011.


                                                                TERRY M. BELLAMY

Window repair station in Auditorium, teaching restoration skills.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What to do now?

By now, many of you have received our request for your help in this campaign to save the Ivy building, your auditorium.  And, the letter may have piiqued your interest.  We hope so.  Here are some ideas:
  1. Contact our office so that we can ensure you receive timely information, the way you want to receive it!
  2. Visit this blog routinely as another way to keep informed,
  3. Forward your memories and photographs of the Ivy building so that we may use them in our publications,
  4. Contact other classmates that may not have received our note and get them informed,
  5. Prepare to communicate with communiity leaders and AB Tech administration about the issue.  Stay tuned: we will provide talking points on Monday.
  6. Post your own ideas about how we may be effective.
  7. If you live near Asheville, would you join a task force to work directly on this issue with other voulnteers?
  8. Consider other organizations & communities, etc. that would join a coalition to ensure that the Ivy building is protected.
Thank you so much for your interest.  We will keep you informed as things progress.

The Ivy Building; Your Auditorium

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

SGP & Gibbons Hall Postcard going out soon!

THANK YOU to Carolina Day for coordinating a mailing to the SGP & GH alums requesting their assitance in working to save the Ivy Building.  Also, special thanks are in order to Kieta Osteen-Cochrane, Priscilla Lloyd Fortner and Melinda Farr Brown (Class of '60) for their help in getting this campaign started.  We are very hopeful that others will join our efforts to work with A B Tech to protect the Ivy Building during their expansion project(s).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

SGP Auditorium - 1937 or 1938

A neighbor of Robert Sauer and Scott Riviere, Ms. Jo Ann Lipinsky Edwinn, has provided us with this photo.  She has also identified almost everyone from this class of 1937 or 38.  It includes classes from SGP and Gibbons:  Jack Clark (d),
Marsden Wallace (d),
A. O. Mooneyham Jr.,
Ann Calloway (d)
Ann Damtoft
Ann Rutledge
Jo Ann Lipinsky Edwinn
Eleanor Brown Hall
Ruth Rutledge
Betsy Anderson
Ruth Patterson (d)
Mary Emily Harris (d)
Jane Perry Hildebrand
Henry Lehman
Bynum Brown (d)
Edward Schoenheit
Winston McMahan
Jean ?
Dale Williard Swift (d)
Margaret Jane Taylor (d)
Betty Sumner Warner (d)
Penelope Self
Patsy Holliday (d)
Mary Jane Fischer
Barbara Loughran