Wall Street is without a doubt the most charming street in downtown Asheville. And to my mind it always has been. Intimate, almost European in scale, a pleasure to stroll on, and free from the din of downtown traffic. In the mid-1970s and through the 80s Wall Street was a lively precursor of what a downtown without chain stores might look like. A few business that are still operating today got their start on “the little street with big ideas.”
When I was in high school (my fiftieth reunion is looming) I haunted Talman’s Bookstore at 46 Wall Street. I shopped in the tiny Southern Appalachian Crafts at 18 Wall Street. In 1974 when I returned to Asheville after college I reconnected with someone I had met at UNC-A and discovered even more places to haunt on Wall Street.
Nancy Orban and Molly Lay opened High Tea Cafe at 23 Wall Street in the fall of 1974. Asheville’s very first espresso was served there along with a delightful Cafe Borgia or Esau’s Red Lentil Soup. You could even dine al fresco at two choice tables outside, quite the continental style for downtown Asheville. High Tea was the heart of Wall Street, the center of all news of what was happening in town. It was a smaller world then. High Tea closed in 1984 after 10 years. And many of us still get misty-eyed thinking about it or cooking something from The High Tea Cookbook to satisfy something in us that we miss.
Ken Pitts started his Frugal Framer framing business at 37 Wall Street (now the home of Overstrom Jewelry) before moving across the expressway in the 1980s to 95 Cherry Street in a building designed by John Reid. The Open Door Boutique (now at 35 Haywood St, #100) was opened by Gail Brady at 22 Wall Street. Ralph Gate’s Friendswood Craft Shop and Double Eagle Leather Works (Doug McCubbins) were at 33 Wall Street along with Southern Appalachian Crafts at 18 Wall Street. Yesterday’s Child Antiques (owned by Wynn and Stafford Anders) started in 1977 on Wall Street before it moved in 1985 to the newly renovated Lexington Park .
Ralph and Brigid Burns first opened Iris Photographics on Wall Street before moving into a space on Walnut Street. The Humpty Dumpty Shoe Shop, W. Gaylean Jewelers, The Trophy Shop, the Ritz Beauty Shop, and Wick & Greene Jewelers were on Wall St. Wick and Greene was at 10 Wall Street before it moved in 1986 to its present location on Patton Avenue when they renovated an art deco gas station that you see today.
Waechter’s Silk Shop at 6 Wall Street later moved to Charlotte St. and finally to Biltmore Village where it closed to the consternation of many Asheville fabric lovers. Bill Neal ran Snowbird Photographics in the Anderson Building at 4-1/2 Wall Street and later moved the shop to Durham in the 1980s. Asheville’s very first “health food” store–The Good Health Food Store was at 26 Wall Street. Phil and Marion Kelton were the proprietors and it remained on the street until it closed sometime in the early 1980s as well.
In 1982-83 Craig Culbertson and Connie Bostic opened Craig’s (a “private club” ) at 46 Wall St. in the old Talman’s building. In 1985 Connie and George Bostic opened the Asheville Music Hall. Later the same space would become Jubilee! a Community Church founded by Howard Hanger.
In 1989 Mark Rosenstein’s restaurant The Market Place moved to Wall Street from its previous location on Market Street where Betsey Reiser’s Supernatural Cafe was once located after it moved from its first location on…..where else?…..Wall Street.
If you want to learn more about downtown businesses in Asheville during the 1980’s mark your calendar for Wednesday, May 25. Attend the program on Downtown Businesses and Restaurants moderated by Rob Pulleyn (Lark Books & Fiberarts Magazine). The panelists will be Pete Aposotolopoulos (The Mediterranean), Bob Carr (Tops for Shoes), Paula Dawkins (Jewels That Dance), Eugene Ellison, Kathryn Long (Ambiance Interiors), and Mark Rosenstein (The Market Place & Brenna’s).
Post by Terry Taylor board member of the Friends of the North Carolina Room.
Asheville in the 1980s: A Formative Decade Told by Those Who Shaped It
These programs are comprised of panelists and a moderators, all of whom were involved in their subject area in Asheville during this decade.
All are on the last Wednesday of the month, 6:00 pm-7:30 pm, Pack Memorial Library, Lord Auditorium, lower level.
April 27: Save Downtown Asheville & the Wrap. Watch this program here!
May 25: Businesses, Restaurants and Food Stores
June 29: Social Activism & Social Agencies
July 27: Arts, Theater & Music
August 31: Downtown Housing & the State of Buildings
September 28: Politics and Civic Engagement