Michael Oppenheim
Look Up Asheville is a creative exploration of Asheville’s architecture rendered through stunning photography by Michael Oppenheim and creative prose by Laura Hope-Gill.

This journey through Asheville’s Eclectic architecture takes us back in time to the early 20th century, the Golden Age of Engineering and the rise of this mountain town to international regard as the “Paris of the South.” Asheville's early architects experimented with new materials while exploring styles of the past, from Romanesque to Renaissance and Neo-Classical and also reached for the new Art Deco and European Style.
Laura Hope-Gill

Their creations invite us to see through the present and explore the millennia of masonry.

Asheville’s dream of becoming a Manhattan of the mountains ground to a halt in 1929. But there is a saying, “Poverty is a friend to Preservation.” Because Asheville voted to pay back its debt rather than sink deeper into it, the architecture remained intact while other cities demolished their own early treasures in favor of urban development. Asheville became the Sleeping Beauty of the eclectic age of architecture. Whereas in the fairy tale, the castles were covered in thorny vines, our buildings were covered with polymerized plastic and brightly colored aluminum. In the late 1980s, the people who live here, themselves awakened by the near-loss of 11 blocks of buildings, started rescuing our architectural resources, waking them into the beauty that defines the city today.

For every old building that stands in Asheville, there are countless untold stories. These are stories of the people who wanted them built, of the contractors who built them, the architects who designed them, the masons who made them, the artisans who decorated them and of course the stories of the people who have lived and worked in them and the preservationists who protect them from decay. Asheville’s stories in the stone are rich and deep; some are as troubling as others are inspiring. The history of the 20th century lives on in our architecture.

Engaging the buildings of Richard Sharp Smith, E.L Tilton, Ronald Greene, Douglas Ellington, Tony Lord, James Vester Miller and many more, Look Up Asheville transforms the walk between bookstore and bank, condo and coffee shop, into a walk through history.

© 2010 Look Up Asheville www.lookupasheville.com Michael Oppenheim • Laura Hope-Gill