By Dasha Morgan
Asheville – The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County has initiated a new avenue for announcing their annual Griffin Awards. These noteworthy awards honor the owners and the skilled craftsmen and contractors who contributed to the specified project in various categories. The categories are adaptive use, rehabilitation, restoration, research, publication and education. It is considered quite an honor to receive one of these awards. In the past few years, an evening gala has taken place at the Masonic Temple in downtown Asheville, where the recipients would be recognized by the PSABC with their family and friends, in conjunction with a special dinner. It has always been a festive occasion. Unfortunately due to COVID 19, this is not possible this year.
May is National Preservation Month, and thus it is appropriate to celebrate some of the many preservation projects in Asheville and Buncombe County. Because the public is not allowed to convene with more than 10 people, the Preservation Society is posting videos of the winning projects throughout the month on their website: www.psabc.org. The videos give significant details about the chosen winners, and what the owners did to the property. They give a birdseye view of the incredible amount of work involved in restoring and rehabilitating these historic structures, so the viewer can have a better understanding of why the property is receiving the award.
So far, a few of the easily recognizable projects that have been given the Griffin Award—virtually—this year are the Asheville Art Museum (Pack Memorial Library) to the City of Asheville, the Center for Craft at 67 Broadway Street to Samsel Architects, and The Ivy Building at 9 Genevieve Circle (the last remaining building of St. Genevieves of the Pines) to Brantley Construction Company. Other awards are being given to 1 Evergreen Lane, 84 Elizabeth Street, 15 Albemarle Road, Beacham’s Curve, 33 Mezzo Cove, 108 Norwood Avenue, 62 Gertrude Place, Forestry Camp 10 Shady Oak Drive.
In these buildings the windows have been refitted, flooring has been restored, the facades cleaned and repointed. The buildings have all been updated for repurposing to accommodate the new life of the building. The detail and craftsmanship of the work on these buildings are being recognized by the PSABC as worthy of recognition, and all are receiving a certificate. Hopefully, later in the year, a festive gala will be held, so all can celebrate together.
The mission of the PSABC is to sustain the heritage and sense of place that is Asheville and Buncombe County through the preservation and promotion of the unique historic resources of the region. Jack Thompson their director has moved to Charlotte, so they are in the process of finding a new director.
The organization works to keep Asheville a unique and desirable city by retaining the character of our community in four key ways:
1) Preservation Easements and Advocacy to protect endangered properties.
2) Technical Support for owners of historic properties.
3) Hosting the Griffin Awards to recognize outstanding preservation projects in the area.
4) Preservation Education Programs to inform the community about Asheville and Buncombe County’s shared history. In March, they had to cancel a presentation on the renowned Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino’s Heritage and Legacy. He made tiles, designed and constructed vaulted tile ceilings at the Biltmore Estate and designed and built St. Lawrence Basilica. His works also include Grand Central Station and the Boston Library. Dr. Jane Vann was to speak to the structural dynamics of tile vaulting and share her knowledge and appreciation of Guastavino’s work. In addition, every year, PSABC offers a home tour as part of the National Arts & Crafts Conference at the Omni Grove Park Inn.
The Preservation Society is a membership organization with a number of volunteers. Membership support, both individual and businesses, helps keep Asheville and Buncombe County the special place it is to live, work and visit. Just go to the website to become a member and to see the new virtual winners of the Griffin Awards this year: (www.psabc.org).