The Rocky Early Years of Grove Arcade

southeast corner of grove arcade in downtown ashevillee

We begin in the roaring twenties...

In early 1927, the construction of Grove Arcade was well on its way to completion. But at the beginning of the new year, the creator of Grove Arcade, E.W. Grove, unfortunately passed away. What did this mean for the future of Grove Arcade?

young walter p taylor

The project screeched to a halt until 1928 when a businessman by the name of Walter P. Taylor bought Grove Arcade from Grove’s estate. Construction resumed and in 1929, it was finally completed. But with one thing missing…the fifteen story tower.

1929 was a tumultuous year for many Americans and Walter P. Taylor was no exception. With the stock market crash and the Great Depression looming, Taylor simply could not afford to build Grove Arcade to the glory that E.W. Grove and Charles N. Parker had planned. In fact, Charles N. Parker was never fully paid for his work on Grove Arcade because they simply ran out of money. Did you know that many of the faces you see around the Arcade were intentionally morphed by the workers to revolt for their lack of payment? You can still find many of these disgruntled faces throughout the building.

Walter P. Taylor’s son said years later that his father lost several properties trying to keep Grove Arcade afloat. The 30s were a difficult time for the tenants of Grove Arcade and many of them had trouble paying their rents.

Relief at Last

In 1942, relief came for Taylor when the federal government paid him $275,000 dollars to house 1,000 federal employees. It saved Grove Arcade from complete shutdown but at the cost of 140 small business owners losing their livelihood. Tenants were only given 30 days to vacate the premises. It is not exactly known what the government used Grove Arcade for during this time, but it is presumed it was a military base for WWII.

sculpture in grove arcade

Fast Forward to Today

For the next 50+ years Grove Arcade would be occupied by the federal government, including as the National Climatic Data Center. In 1995, the city of Asheville was granted the title to the Arcade and restoration began. Grove Arcade reopened its doors to the public in 2002.

The early days of Grove Arcade were rocky to say the least but nearly 100 years later Grove Arcade is living up to the dreams of its founder and is a beloved landmark and destination to all of Asheville. If you are curious to see what the 15-story tower would have looked like, visit our new replica statue on the corner of Battery Park and Page Avenue!

historical grove arcade sketch
glass sculpture outside grove arcade

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