When the Battery Park Hotel opened in downtown Asheville in July of 1886 the youngest Civil War veterans were just in their forties. As Asheville’s first “modern” hotel, with electric lights and an Otis elevator, the Battery Park was advertised far and wide, hoping to bring a larger tourist base to Asheville now that the railroad had finally made it through the mountains.
The Hotel was built by Col. Frank Coxe, who himself had been drafted as a Union and Confederate soldier, living in the South but having coal investments in Pennsylvania – Coxe actually paid “proxies” on both sides to replace him – men that were killed on the same day at the day battle (reportedly.)
Coxe was the Vice President of the Western North Carolina Railroad, and foresaw that Asheville needed a big modern resort to bring in tourists that were used to such accomodations in cities like New York. Once opened, ads were taken out in newspapers, including the New York Times, and brochures were widely distributed. The Ramsey Library has one of these brochures in its Special Collections, with a special inscription written on the back page:
Better keep you [dam?] Rebel Circurlar to yourselves. Understand already that you are filled with “Rebs” who continually insult any of the Northern fools who come to your place.
Do not Send any more of [?] things North
I love this. It brought me straight into the time – 1886 – just 20 years after the end of the Civil War, and some wounds had not had time to heal. Asheville was South, New York was North, and A. Yank would not be staying at the Battery Park Hotel.
I’d like to think that by the time the Grove Park Inn was built – Yank had decided to give Asheville a try.