A Kenilworth Research Album: 52 Weeks, 52 Communities

“View of the Mountains from a Villa in Kenilworth, Asheville, NC” Postcard

Of all the communities on our list, one of the most photographed besides Downtown Asheville, may be Kenilworth. This Asheville Suburb in the southeast part of the city sprung onto the scene in the late 1910’s and rose in popularity into the 1920’s until the town, once incorporated and independent, was annexed by the city of Asheville.

With so many photos of the community available, I thought this would be a great opportunity to take the time to introduce, or reintroduce readers to some easy steps to isolate photos on the North Carolina Room database, Presto. Part one of this post will be a brief “How To” guide to finding specific images (no matter what you may be looking for) and in part two, I’ll show off some of our favorite shots of Kenilworth past.

Let’s Go!

  1. Head to: ncroom.buncombecounty.org
You’ll see several modules like this on the screen, you can click here to reduce your search to just photos and postcards if you like, but sometimes that can leave out photos hiding in bigger collections.

This is Presto, our front-facing database, where you, our lovely patrons, can access all of our indexed archival records. There are several different search tools, but in most instances, it is easiest to use “Quick Search” in the top right hand corner of the screen. In this case, we’re searching for images of Kenilworth, so that’s what I’ve input into the search bar.

We always use quotation marks, especially if you were searching for say, Kenilworth Lake, because you might end up with all things “Kenilworth” and “lake” otherwise.

Once you have your results, you can narrow them down to just images by selecting the images box on the left side of your screen. It looks like this:

Check the box to reduce your search to only images, but browse collections, too! Sometimes scrapbooks and other such hides out in there!

Should you want to create a personalized finding aid for your research adventure, you can print your results! Above the “Refine search results” box choose “Select All,” this will select all of your search results, even if there are multiple pages.

Now, further to the left choose the icon that looks like a printer to print or save your search results. Bring them in to the library, to help out with your projects, or print them out here to take home to remind you of your research progress.

Now that we’ve done our research, let’s dive into some historic photos of Kenilworth, shall we?

The Chiles Family

James M. and Leah Chiles worked together to develop Kenilworth into the suburb we know today. James modeled the neighborhood after the Kenilworth Castle in England.

Both James and Leah served as leaders of their real estate firm and mayors of Kenilworth. Leah led a successful career in the footsteps of her father as an artist, as well. Their Spanish Style Villa is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Read more about the Chiles family, their home, and Kenilworth here: The Chiles House

Postcards

There are many photos of Kenilworth in our collection, but not many postcards. Since this was a residential area, it stands to reason that many postcards weren’t many produced.

Homes

African American Residents

***We don’t have many photos of African American residents of Kenilworth, and those we do have only show them in roles of service to wealthy white families. However, many black families lived in the neighborhood. In fact, one of the primary cemeteries for people of color in Asheville at that time was in the Kenilworth area, the South Asheville Cemetery. One part of the area where many black residents lived was also known as Brackettown.

About Town

The Kenilworth Inn

Now it’s your turn!

Try your hand at finding some photos in our database! There are more than 15,000 to choose from. We welcome you to use them for any kind of project (with proper credit, of course).

All you need to do for permission to use a photo is send an email to packnc@buncombecounty.org. In most cases, if the photo is for person research use, and you do not need a high resolution copy, we’re happy to provide the photo free of charge. For a high resolution scan, we ask that you complete THIS FORM, and we charge $5.00 each as a processing fee.


We love sharing our collections and stories with you! We especially like when they get a good workout from researchers, the curious, and even the stray interior designer or stylist! Our images and collections are as much yours as they are the library’s. That’s what public libraries are all about!

Come on in and take a look. You never know what you might find!

As a reminder, this post is a part of our 52 Weeks, 52 Communities Series. In this series, we are covering a different Buncombe County community each week. Do you have materials related to Kenilworth or some other Buncombe County community you’d like to let us know about? Do you, your parents or grandparents have a good story to tell? We want to hear from you! The North Carolina Room is Buncombe County’s Public Archive, we want to help preserve and make accessible the history and culture of Asheville and Buncombe County for all its residents.

This post was authored by Katherine Calhoun Cutshall, a librarian working in the North Carolina Room at Pack Memorial Library.

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