About History Swannanoa

Swannanoa’s Grovemont Neighborhood A Vibrant Community with a Fascinating History Part II

This oral history is the recollection of Bill Alexander, whose family was one of the first to settle in this Valley. Written by Valerie Taylor.

St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Grovemont

Edwin Wiley Grove returned from his grandparents’ hometown in England with a good idea of how he wanted his new – and last – building project, Grovemont on Swannanoa, to look.

First, to get the raw materials for this project, he bought 1,000 acres of land, starting with the area now named theĀ Grove Stone Quarry on Old US 70 and Grovestone Rd., and up to Lake Eden. In fact, Lake Eden Properties was the Country Club for people who bought homes in Grovemont.

He dug out the lake there and also two lakes in Grovemont (yes, Grovemont had two lakes!), Lake June and Lake Wildwood. Grovemont children – and adults – spent many fun-filled summer days in those lakes.

Grove’s plans called for a hotel to be built on the site where St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church now stands. The vision was for guests of the hotel to enjoy swimming, fishing and boating in the lakes.

On the four corners outside the “Square,” as we call it, he planned to build a Town Hall, a Post Office, a Library and the Hotel. Inside the circle (the park) were to be an apothecary (drug store), a haberdashery (gentlemen’s clothing) a mercantile (hardware) store and the sales office for prospective homebuyers. The site where the Library now stands was the Town Hall, and later a Community Center where dances were held and various clubs met. It was the only building that was completed.

An average lot size in this community was 80′ frontage x 160′ deep, and ranged from $750-$1,250 per lot. Prices of homes ranged from $8,500- $13,500. There would be only two designs for homes: stucco and river rock. Some homes were a combination. Several original homes still stand in Grovemont.

Much of Grove’s dreams for Grovemont on Swannanoa died with him in 1927. The property manager returned to St. Louis; the dams that held the lakes began to leak and deteriorate; and with no one to fix them, the lakes dried up.

Beacon Manufacturing Co. was being constructed at the same time as Grovemont, and after Grove died, the Catholic diocese in Asheville bought the property that was slated to be a hotel (now the church). This was most probably the influence of Beacon’s Mr. Owen, whose managers were from Massachusetts and New England, and many were Catholic.

There is much more rich history in this community. Anyone interested in seeing the plans, photos or getting more information about Grovemont, can call Bill Alexander at 669-1169.

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