The Church building that houses the congregation now dubbed ‘Holy Chaos’ was originally built around 1891. It was renovated in 1917 by Smith & Carrier – the firm of Richard Sharp Smith, Asheville’s most influential and prolific architect.
Smith was born in England in 1852. After studying architecture he immigrated to the United States, and in 1889 moved to Asheville to oversee the construction of the Biltmore Estate while working for the renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt.
After the completion of the Biltmore in 1895 Smith went on to build 700 other structures in the area. Between 1900 and 1920 Smith made a heavy mark on Asheville,responsible for nearly every landmark in the city at that time, many of which still stand: The Masonic Temple, the YMI Building, The Vance Monument, the Elks Home Building (Malaprops) and the Loughran Building across the street (Mobilia) He collaborated with Guastavino on the Basilica of St. Lawrence, designed buildings in Biltmore Village, and his homes in Montford have set the building and design standards for the neighborhood today. His firm also designed the Jackson County Courthouse in Sylva, and the Madison County Courthouse in Marshall.
The Haywood Street Methodist Church is a brick, Neo-Tuscan Renaissance style church with arched stained glass windows on the sides. During the 1917 renovation the tower and narthex were added in front, as well as a rear wing. The Sunday school wing added in 1950’s.
The church operated as Haywood Street United Methodist Church until 2006 when it merged with Central United Methodist Church on Church Street (Asheville’s first and longest continuously operated church according to their website). The Haywood Street building was kept for mission-oriented activity, although it was no longer used for church services.
In 2009 Rev. Brian Combs answered the call for a urban ministry in Asheville, reaching out to the community with the mission of reminding every person, no matter their circumstances, of their sacred worth. Today the church offers a mid-week and Sunday worship service, along a free community lunch at the Downtown Welcome Table. They have a clothing closet where those in need can shop at not cost, and free hair cuts, yoga and acupuncture are offered, along with clean needle exchange services. There is a community garden called Loaves and Fishes, and even chickens, goats, and bees. In 2014 Haywood Street also opened Haywood Street Respite in the former Sunday School wing, where homeless adults can stay and recover from surgery or other hospital visits, healing through community.
Richard Sharp Smith died in 1924, but many of his buildings, including the Haywood Street Methodist Church, remain today, an indelible mark on the landscape and an influence of style that can not be duplicated.
For more information about Haywood Street visit their website
And check out this article in WNC Woman