The railroad came to Asheville starting in 1880 bringing with it lots of people, goods and services. The River Arts District, at that time, became the place for the warehousing and distribution of these goods… everything from coal, ice & lumber to corn & chickens.
Originally built in 1916, by Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, as a warehouse from which they supplied their chain of retail gasoline stations, Standard Oil also offered a full line of fuel & lubricants to the agricultural concerns in the area.
What is now the River Arts District has a rich history of innovation. Farmers Federation, a successful agricultural cooperative and AFRAM, Asheville’s first African-American owned industrial concern were housed in what is now The Wedge. After the modernization of the 1950’s & 60’s and the urban renewal of the 1960’s & 70’s, however, this neighborhood went into decline.
When CURVE studios & garden was purchase by Pattiy Torno on October, 13, 1989, the buildings had been used as a place to fix, paint and detail cars for the previous 20 or 30 years. There was no sewer to the property. It was rough.
After two years as “Squashpile”, a drug, smoke and alcohol free punk rock club, Pattiy renovated the property into live/work studio spaces for artists. Noteable residents have included Cynthia Wyn, Andy Merrick, Nick Kekick, Roddy Capers, Scott Simono, Christopher Mello, Rob Pulleyn, John Blackwell, Mark Burleson, Robin Van Vaulkenburg & Keith Phillips to name just some.
There is a history of flooding at CURVE studios & garden as we sit adjacent to the French Broad River, the third oldest river in the world. Almost simultaneous Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast Hurricanes starting on July 9, 1916 culminated in the heavy rains that caused the French Broad River to rise to 23 ½ feet. The M. T. Mitchell Corn Whiskey Distillery buildings previously located at 6 Riverside Drive went down river in that flood that also cost the lives of at least 80 people.
Similarly, in 2004 Hurricanes Frances (14.45 feet) and Hurrican Ivan (12.3 feet) caused flood waters to fill up the property at 6 Riverside Drive. The result was devastating to two of the ground floor tenants who lived and worked in their studios. The buildings hardly seemed to notice. The ground floor spaces have now been converted to strictly retail spaces, with portable businesses… just in case.
October 13, 209 will be the 30 year anniversary of Pattiy Torno buying what has become CURVE studios & gardens. Probably will be a part of some kind so put us on your calendar!