The Grove Arcade

America’s first indoor shopping mall still exists in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. It was conceived by selfmade millionaire E.M. Grove who envisioned this attraction as a means to invigorate the city’s downtown district.

Grove actually died in 1927, two years before his 267,000 square foot dream was completed. When it opened in 1929, original tenants included a beauty shop, cigar stand, a haberdashery, candy stalls, booksellers and office space.

It continues to serve as a gathering place with restaurants, shops, an art gallery and residences. In fact, it was a happening place when we were there!

The light is lovely, the architecture amazing, and we found some nice shops. My friend was most interested in one store that sold locally made arts and crafts but I was most taken with this shop that sells handmade hats and yarn.

The old phone booths are free of phones but serve as a hub for an ATM and facility information.

Here’s one more look at that gorgeous ceiling.

Want more information? Find a directory and full history here. Tomorrow I will tell you about the amazing bookstore we found!

10 thoughts on “The Grove Arcade

  1. I like shopping malls. Sadly they dont seem to be doing as well as they used to with people preferring online shopping. Some of the malls in my area closed down.

    • Malls everywhere are struggling. This place seems to have found a good formula. The restaurants and bars were all packed and a few had live music inside or out. The shops are all high end specialty stores that sell locally made art or items you can’t find just anywhere. Even the bookstore, which is one of the best independent bookstores I’ve ever seen, is inside a beautiful Champaign bar. The duel purpose seems to serve them well. Of course, having upstairs apartments would help too!

      I fear the old mall format with a few anchor stores and some smaller shops won’t make it much longer if current trends hold.

  2. Perhaps you know them, but there two arcades worthy of mention in Ohio. The 1894 Richardson Romanesque Cleveland Arcade is well preserved and quite stunning. At five stories and a city block long it’s quite large. Unfortunately it has only a handful on uninteresting tennants. The second is the Dayton Arcade. Built in 1905 in something of a Dutch guildhall style it was totally restored recently and caters to the arts, culture(?) and entertainment now. It was closed when I saw it several years ago, however recent photos looked appealing. As an aside, I like the VW Bus you’ve added! …

    • I am aware of both but have visited neither. It seems a Dayton road trip is in my near future so I’ll add this to my list for that day!! Thanks for the recommendations!

      The VW Bus can be found at a place called Groovy Plants Ranch. It’s a fabulous greenhouse north of Columbus that specializes in healthy, unusual plants as well as fun props like this VW.

  3. It always kills me when I learn that an architect or someone who has commissioned a home or building to be built dies before the thing is finished. Or they only get to live in the house a couple years before they die.

    I love how they repurposed the phone booths!

    I love that you can still buy hats there!

    • They have done a nice job keeping this place relevant. And I know what you mean about the heartbreak- his vision resulted in something so beautiful I hate to think he missed seeing it.

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