North Carolina Room and a Recent Donation Gets Media Coverage

MS273 page 006
One of the pages from the 1904 photograph album with view looking up South Main Street (now Biltmore Avenue) towards Pack Sqare. The Swannanoa Hotel is in view on the left, the present-day location of the Aloft Hotel. A trolley car makes its way down the street as two men on horseback meander on up towards the square. Click on image to see it enlarged.

The story goes like this: The North Carolina Room’s very own Friends of the North Carolina Room board member, Jon Elliston, published an article Thursday January 15th on Carolina Public Press about a 1904 photograph album that was sent to the NC Room by a woman in Albany, New York. She had found the album in a box of Albany ephemera at a junk shop. The photos and the story had piqued Jon’s interest and he called the woman who had sent it to get her side of the story. Jon Elliston is the Investigations and Open Government Editor at Carolina Public Press, as well as an Asheville-based journalist and historian, and curator of @AVL1915, a Twitter experiment that documents century-old Asheville reportage with information drawn from the North Carolina Collection. His Twitter feed runs on our Blog page.

Jon’s article begins:

At first, the notebook-sized cardboard box that arrived in the mail was inconspicuous. But when it was opened, at Pack Memorial Library’s North Carolina Collection, local librarians’ jaws started dropping.

Inside were the delicate, partly frayed pages of a photo album prepared in 1904, with a handwritten title: “Asheville: The Mountain City in the Land of the Sky, Illustrated.” The album contained 34 mostly crisp black and white pictures that were new to the library’s staff.”

Buncombe County Multimedia Specialist Cataldo Perrone saw Jon’s article and thought “it was fantastic.” He shared the article on Buncombe County’s Facebook page and, as he said, “It blew up.” It reached 2,177 people and got 54 shares and 69 likes in less than 24 hours. “That’s really good for a county Facebook post,” noted Perrone.

You can read the full version of Jon’s article on the Carolina Public Press site here:  Previously Unknown Photo Album of Asheville in 1904 Surfaces.

Then, within an hour of Jon’s story being published online, reporter John Le from WLOS News 13 called, also wanting to do a story on the photograph album. He and WLOS cameraman John Kirtley enjoyed looking over the photographs, filming and talking about them.


Photographs taken by North Carolina Room staff member Ione Whitlock.


Jon’s article and the TV news coverage gave a huge boost in awareness of the North Carolina Room and the Friends of the North Carolina Room. We never thought we’d hear Darcel Grimes at the anchor desk of News 13 say the words:

“. . . and a group called the Friends of the North Carolina Room. . . “

Click here to see the WLOS piece  

And after the filming was all over, it was time to let off a little stress. Librarian Zoe Rhine let the cameraman fish out his microphone cord from under her sweater.


The staff and administration of Buncombe County Library, Recreation and Culture, along with the staff of the North Carolina Room, along with the Board of the Friends of the North Carolina Room, give many thanks to Jon Elliston of Carolina Public Press and to WLOS News 13 for their wonderful coverage. The North Carolina Room’s mission is to collect and preserve the history, life and literature of Western North Carolina. We have a fantastic collection, which belongs to all Buncombe County residents. We always welcome the opportunity to share it.


  1. Sorry, I looked at the enlarged version of the photo and
    still can’t tell which building on the left is the Swannanoa Hotel.
    The only sign I can really make out is Acme Sign.


    1. The Swannanoa Hotel is the main building you are seeing on the left. It is such a close-up shot of it that you are really just seeing the southern half of it. If you look towards the middle of the building, above the trees you see a roofed rise that goes up above the 4-story building, which is actually in the center of the hotel, above an awning on street level which would have been the main entrance. So the side your are seeing here is duplicated on the other side of the entrance. It was a large building. Most views of the hotel are shot at more of a distance and then you can see the whole building with that raised entrance in the center and would be more familiar. The Acme Sign company is in the southern end of the hotel.

      1. Thanks so much! I didn’t expect the hotel to be so large. I’m always
        surprised at how the architectural landscape has changed downtown.

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