Though it’s not been an active hotel since 1972, the historic Battery Park Hotel in Asheville is still worth a visit. It now houses apartments and offices, but from 1924 until 1972, it was a hotel for many visitors who came to Asheville to enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery and the refreshing climate.
The Battery Park Hotel Asheville History
The 1924 structure is 14 stories tall, a red brick building with accents borrowed from both Neoclassical and Spanish architecture. It was built by Edwin W. Grove, who also built the nearby Grove Park Inn, on the site of the first Battery Park hotel, a fancy Queen Anne style building that had been constructed in 1886. The need for a new hotel arose partly because the railroad was bringing so many new visitors to the area. Many people visited Asheville not only for its beauty but for the purity of the mountain air, making the city an attraction not only for tourists but for those recovering from tuberculosis. The original hotel was one of the first hotels in the region to have electricity and an elevator.
However, the history of the site goes back even further. The original hotel and the current day structure take their names from the fact that the hill on which they were built was a Confederate artillery battery during the Civil War. Confederate defenders dug in with Stony Hill, the highest hill in town – and now the site of the hotel – at their backs. The battle lasted only five hours and the Union troops retreated, so the Confederates never had to make their last stand at the hill.
The Biltmore Connection
Though many important and wealthy guests stayed at the original hotel, perhaps the most famous, at least from the local point of view, was George Vanderbilt. Legend has it that Vanderbilt looked out of the hotel window – or perhaps sat on the front porch — and saw the beautiful land on which he eventually built his famous Biltmore Estate, now one of Asheville’s finest historic attractions.
The “new” hotel, built in 1924, had its detractors as well as its fans. The novelist Thomas Wolfe, perhaps Asheville’s most famous native, was not overly fond of the new hotel’s architectural style. However, it seemed most people appreciated the 220 rooms, amenities and gorgeous view.
Battery Park Hotel Asheville history – they go hand in hand.