The Richard Hansley Photograph Collection

Can you identify the locations of these architectural details? They can be found adorning some of Asheville’s best loved historic buildings. The buildings will be identified at the bottom of this post. We’ll begin with some that should be easy to identify.

1 and 2

3 and 4

5 6 and 7

8 and 9

10 and 11

12 13 and 14

All of these photos, plus THOUSANDS! and THOUSANDS! more were donated to the NC Collection by our friend Richard Hansley: architect, teacher, photographer and author. In 1969 Richard Hansley began teaching architectural drafting at Asheville High School and taking photographs of notable Asheville buildings and landmarks for use in his classes.

RHC PHOTO A Hansley, Richard
Richard Hansley around 1992, during his last year teaching at Asheville High School

After retirement from high school teaching, Hansley taught a class on the history of Asheville architecture through the UNCA College for Seniors, and he continued to add to his collection of slides. Various pictorial histories of Asheville helped guide his choices of buildings to photograph. In order to make use of the versatility of Power Point, he transferred all his slides into digital format. In 2013 he gave copies of his digital photographs of Asheville architecture to the NC Collection. These images, plus many documents about the history of Asheville buildings and builders, comprise the Richard Hansley Photograph Collection.

The collection includes digital images of more than 160 different Asheville buildings and landmarks. Check it out! I guarantee that you will be amazed by the depth and breadth of this collection. It’s hard to imagine a more thorough and complete record of Asheville’s Architectural Icons as they appeared around the end of the Twentieth Century. Follow the link to our online catalog:

and use “Richard Hansley Photograph Collection” as Keyword.

In many cases Hansley has taken interior as well as exterior views, including many close-ups of architectural details.

Exterior and Interior Views of the James Edwin Rumbough home on Zillicoa Street in Montford.
Exterior and Interior Views of the James Edwin Rumbough home on Zillicoa Street in Montford.

I believe that this visual record of Asheville around the end of the Twentieth Century is so important that I have spent untold hours over the past year working on our online record of the collection. I wanted our online patrons to be able to SEE as many of these beautiful photographs as possible. I have created a separate photograph record for each of the 163 different building or sites. When the record includes more than six separate views, a pdf of the digital images allows viewers to scroll easily through the photographs. In some cases, when the landmark no longer exists, or in order to document the changing appearance of a building, Hansley included copies of archival photographs taken from books, postcards and other sources.

Hansley’s years of study culminated in Asheville’s Historic Architecture, his book about buildings in Asheville, published in 2011 by History Press. Check out his book, and enjoy the photographs in the Richard Hansley Photograph Collection.

Here are the answers to our Architectural Scavenger Hunt. How well do you know your Asheville architecture?

1) Battery Park Hotel; 2) Drhumor Building; 3) Wick & Greene Jewelers; 4) YMI Cultural Center; 5) Street Fair on Battery Park Avenue; 6) Howard Hanger Hall; 7) Central Methodist Church; 8) Queen Anne house at 263 Haywood Street; 9) Office of E. W. Grove on Charlotte Street; 10) Castanea Building; 11) Frances Apartments in Montford at 333 Cumberland Avenue; 12) Douglas Ellington’s Block House at 24 Kimberly Avenue; 13) Public Service Building (do you see Leda and the Swan?) and 14) Claxton Elementary School.

Posted by Betsy Murray

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