A Jazzy Escape to Asheville
Asheville, NC is pretty much in our backyard. A short, pleasant 1 hour and 20-minute drive can literally transport us from our rural mountain retreat to a lively, food-centric community. So, when unforeseen circumstances found us with an available weekend, we headed out. Even though we only went for one night, it was a refreshing escape.
We selected The Foundry, a hotel that opened a couple of years ago for our get-away. Set in a repurposed former steel foundry, the renovation included several buildings from the early 1900s that had been long abandoned, along with new construction to bridge the segments. It made for a charming, cozy 87-room, four-story hotel. Located in an area known as “The Block”, which was the heart of the African American community during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the hotel is just steps away from today’s downtown. Steel forged in the foundry was used to build the famed Biltmore Estate and Asheville’s first skyscraper, the Jackson Building.
From our room, we had a nice view of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, built-in 1919 by James Miller, the son of a former slave, and his namesake Miller Construction Company. We could also catch a glimpse of the colorful rooftop of the beautiful Art Deco City Hall, built-in 1928. Both the church and City Hall are two of the dozens of Asheville sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
It was a rainy weekend but we didn’t mind the drizzle as we ate some terrific meals, starting with lunch at an Asheville favorite, 12 Bones. Although famous for their ribs, I ate the most incredible smoked turkey, brie. and sugared bacon sandwich in the world. (I’m not kidding, I rarely mention food details in this blog). After a delicious dinner at nearby Blackbird, our perfect evening was spent in the hotel’s comfortable, spacious Workshop Lounge, sipping a cocktail and listing to a couple of hours of really nice jazz. It was such a treat to hear live music again. For Sunday brunch we hit Benne on Eagle at the hotel, the brainchild of chef John Fleer, a five-time James Beard nominee.
The self-guided Urban Trail Walking Tour is a great way to find out some of the city’s interesting history, or if you just wander the streets, keep your eyes open for the informative plaques that mark the spots of notable history and art all around the city. I’ve been to Asheville many times, but I always find something new.
After the lockdowns due to Covid, this was such a nice break. I’m glad we went, because who knows what this next phase of the pandemic will bring.