Photo: Star Lights in Chevron Beads and Trading Post, Lexington and Walnut in downtown Asheville..

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Discover and Celebrate the Bliss of
Douglas Ellington
"Asheville's Art Deco Master"

"Ellington is one of the finest designing architects in America, having won the Paris Prize from [the Society of Beaux Arts Architects in] America, which gave him free study in the Beaux Arts school in Paris and travel throughout Europe for a period of thee years. While in this Paris school he won the highest prize for designing given by the School, and is the only American that has ever won this prize." It was the architectural work that Douglas Ellington completed in the city of Asheville during1925-1929 earned him that national reputation.

The First Baptist Church

Completed in 1927, the
First Baptist Church was Douglas Ellington's first major commissions in Asheville. From the moment it was completed, it received high praise from both Asheville's citizen and the national architectural community. Today First Baptist Church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and considered to be one of Asheville's most important architectural treasures and a highly recognizable symbol of the city.

Ellington's design is pure Renaissance, modeling the church's distinctive dome after the famous Santa Maria del Fiore dome in Florence, Italy (shown on left) which was designed by the renowned Filippo Brunelleschi. The world's first dome was built between 1436 and 1445, and was quite an engineering feat for its day.

Ellington's timelessly classical approach ran counter to the Machine Age Modernism that many architects were embracing in the early 20th century. The church is embellished by abstracted natural motifs such as a palm leaf, all of which were designed by Ellington.

The considerable public recognition Ellington received from the citizens of Asheville motivated him to move his design practice to Asheville. This move led to further commissions including the Asheville City Hall, Asheville High School and the S&W Cafeteria.

"The first Art Deco City Hall"
" ... The Asheville City Hall, built in 1926 - 1928, exemplifies Art Deco architecture and represents the style exercised by internationally known architect Douglas Ellington. City Hall also stands as a magnificent symbol of the development boom of the twenties when civic projects were undertaken in the "Program of Progress" to keep pace with speculative construction throughout Asheville.

Asheville City Hall is a colorful and massive "fortress-like" structure rising eight full stories into the Asheville sky. The materials chosen for the building included marble, brick and terra cotta and were selected in colors to parallel the clay-pink shades of the local Asheville soil. The building is topped with a stepped octagonal roof covered with bands of elongated triangular terra-cotta red tiles and crowned by a heavy conical tower...." Click Here for the rest of the story from BlogAsheville

Dedication program of the City Building of Asheville, NC. Exercises March 19th, 1928. Includes information on the Contractors, the architect, Douglas Ellington, a brief history of Asheville, pictures of the leaders in the two administrations under which the City Hall was built, and a roster of City Commissioners from 1849 Image courtesty of D. H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Asheville High School

".... A very happy asset in the evolution of the design was the availability of a beautiful and unusual local granite known as "Balfour Pink," quarries near the adjoining city of Salisbury, North Carolina.  The photographs show how the rubble run of this granite was selected and laid, the spandrel features being made up of ordinary paving blocks of this same material.  The color of the granite runs from cream through a gray to a rich pink, the general effect of the finished surfaces, laid in random shades, being a warm clay pink of brilliance and richness.  The xentire structure is roofed in tile of a deep variegated heather tone which harmonizes splendidly with the walls.  In the central tower bands of tawny Airedale brick and blocks of ordinary rust-toned terra cotta flue lining are introduced for contrast.  The ornamental seal of Asheville is introduced in the main face of the tower by brilliantly colored tiles.  the principal flaggin in this structure is in some areas Mount Airy white granite and in other areas slate-like slabs of an easily quarried, orange-colored stone which crops forth in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.  All exterior gates, grilles and lighting fixtures are iron of natural finish.  All road paving is pink granite..." From an article written by Douglas Ellington after completion of Asheville Highschool. Photo by Mollie Warlick.
See also
Ms Warlick's Page on the various incarnations of Asheville High School

"... Out of seven architects submitting proposals for the new high school, Douglas D. Ellington was selected by majority vote. In addition Dr. Nickolaus Louis Englehardt of Colombia University was hired as an advisor to the architect. Dr. Englehardt had worked a great deal in school planning and design on a national level. Ellington and Englehardt's collaboration made the new Asheville High a model facility in terms of architecture and educational offerings.... Asheville High School opened on February 5, 1929, with a dedication ceremony in the auditorium including as speakers the Mayor of Asheville, the superintendent of Asheville City Schools, Douglas Ellington, Lee H. Edwards, the president of the PTA, the Headmaster of the Asheville School and the president of Duke University.,,," Click Here for the rest of the story.

Photo by Frank Clodfelter (Courtesy of North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville NC)


S&W Cafeteria

Photo of S&W Cafeteria in 2001
courtesty of the library at ThinkQuest

Considered by many as architect Douglas Ellington's most outstanding design, the S&W Building was constructed for a pioneering cafeteria chain in 1929. Ellington wrote that the art deco facade and interior had the deliberate "note of gaiety" appropriate for this popular gathering place. The S&W Cafeteria moved to Asheville Mall in 1974...." Plaque found across street from S&W cafeteria.

The Renovating of the S&W Mosaic


Click on each of the dozens of categories to the left to uncover what makes the Asheville area so vital, so intriguing and so, well, UTTERLY BLISSFUL!


"Chunn's Cove"
Douglas Ellington House

"He was like an innocent child,” Middleton says; his playfulness along with his acute sense of color and his love of found materials became his hallmarks."

Named the "Most Significant Residence in North America" by Architectural Digest in 1932, Chunn's Cove was built by Douglas Ellington and his brother and partner Kenneth Ellington, "...of 'scraps and samples.' According to his niece Sally Middleton, ' is the result of 'two men having fun' and never wasting material. The pink granite came from the High School, the mosaics around the living room were architectural samples, the ceiling beams were from an old school house in Reem's Creek that Vance attended..." This timeless residence bermed into a mountainside was made entirely of stone by local craftsmen without the help of blueprints or heavy equipment. The stonework around the fireplace was by a highly regarded Italian stonemason.

This remarkable home was also the childhood residence of renowned artist Sally Ellington Middleton, niece of Douglas and daughter of Kenneth, whose enchanting and magical watercolors reflect her surroundings, her heritage, and her early upbringing in Chunn's Cove -- where she lives to this day.

"By looking intently and waiting for the creatures to appear, I began to see small items I might have missed, such as seeds, mosses, and lichens. As I grew older, I began to appreciate the tremendous detail in nature, how vast and how intricate it is."

When Sally was a child, her father would walk with her through the surrounding woods telling her stories of fairies, elves and leprechauns who lived under leaves or at the roots of a tree. Sally also absorbed a great deal of real life in the woods, influences that are reflected in her paintings. Many of her painting incorporate the feather of a bluejay into them, which has become Sally's trademark. Sally's paintings grace many collections, both public and private, as well as illustrating several books, and may be seen and purchased from her website which also provides additional information and photographs of this wonderful home and her childhood reminiscences.
See Ms. Middleton's oral history for additional interesting facts about her life and family.
Also look at A Town Meeting with Sallie Middleton for more examples of her art and her life philosophy and insights.

Example of work by Sallie Ellington Middleton
Artwork images are copyright by the artist

The following books illustrated by Sally Middleton are out of print, (one's so scarce it's valued at over $350), but are often available via

The Magical Realm of Sallie Middleton

The woods and wild things I remember

Sparks From My Chimney

South Carolina forests and trees

"... Many of Ellington's great buildings feature strikingly original color schemes. Famous also for his use of natural material (see the stonework in his residences), organic masses (see the Asheville High School and the Merrimon Avenue Fire Station), and for Art Deco motifs (see the S&W Cafeteria), it is fair to say that Ellington, who was a painter, painted with architecture.

The fire-flash purple, brown, red, ochre, and verdigris-green clay tiles on the roof of the First Baptist Church simulate, in an impressionistic way, aging effects on a Florence cathedral. The bottom-to-top progression of pinks and rose reds in Asheville's City Hall represent the gradation of color in the region's soil..."

From the Asheville Buncombe County Preservation Society's monograph: Douglas Ellington: Asheville's Art Deco Master by Rob Neufeld. CLICK HERE for the rest of the story.

Discover the Bliss of
Art Deco Architecture

American Art Deco: Modernistic Architecture and Regionalism "... Art deco architecture flourished in large cities and small towns throughout America in the 1920s and 1930s. Many of the best examples—office buildings, movie theaters, hotels, and churches—are still in use. Deco architects, artists, and designers drew on European styles but were most committed to a style that grew organically, as they saw it, from their native soil.
Two themes bound Deco buildings and their decorative schemes together: a regional pride that tied buildings to their specific locales and functions, and a growing national symbolism that asserted the buildings' identity as uniquely, independently American. American Art Deco features descriptions—and over 500 color photographs—of seventy-five lavish and innovatively designed buildings across the country that have been preserved both outside and in, giving the full scope of this beloved, exciting style.
From a sleekly modern apartment house in Cairo to a town hall in the Netherlands, architecture was influenced internationally by the Art Deco style, as revealed by this wide-angled, superbly illustrated survey. Bayer ( The Art of Rene Lalique ) first uncovers Art Deco's ancient and exotic sources, from Assyrian to Mayan to Moorish.
Her text, wedded to 376 jazzy, snazzy illustrations (146 in color), demonstrates how this vibrant, decorative style extended between the wars into every nook and cranny of the U.S. leaving its mark on skyscrapers, movie theaters, firehouses, factories, dams, tunnels, high schools, gas stations, roadside diners and even gravestones.
Filippo Brunelleschi's design for the dome of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence remains one of the most towering achievements of Renaissance architecture. Completed in 1436, the dome remains a remarkable feat of design and engineering. Its span of more than 140 feet exceeds St Paul's in London and St Peter's in Rome, and even outdoes the Capitol in Washington, D.C., making it the largest dome ever constructed using bricks and mortar.
The story of its creation and its brilliant but "hot-tempered" creator is told in Ross King's delightful Brunelleschi's Dome. "...he also emerges as one of the most imaginative and daring architects and engineers of any era. His dome is shown to be not just an artistic triumph, and one of the defining structures of Western architecture, but also a technical masterpiece, studied by architects to this day...."

This portable field guide to the historic architecture of western North Carolina covers 1,200 historic buildings in 25 counties in the foothills and mountains. It introduces readers to the region's rich and diverse architectural heritage—from the log farmstead to the opulent mountain retreat, and from ancient earthen mounds of the Cherokee to twentieth-century hydroelectric dams and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Featuring more than 370 photographs and 36 maps, the guide is written for travelers and residents alike. It offers concise entries on notable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities, emphasizing buildings that are visible from the road and indicating sites that are open to the public.

The following is excerpted from

American Art Deco: Architecture and Regionalism
By Carla Breeze

".... Ellington was known as a jackdaw, salvaging materials from any available source...."

"... a unique architectural talent emerged in North Carolina during the 1920s Douglas Ellington became one of the significant architects of the region... was awarded the commission to design the First Baptist Church in Asheville, North Carolina, where he moved in 1924 to supervise construction. An original architect, Ellington designed a church which was purely moderistic and attracted wide publicity including coverage in the August 1930 edition of The Architectural Record. Ellington next obtained the commission to design Asheville City Hall.

"While engaged in these and other commissions, Ellington was building his own house on Chunn's Cove with materials scavenged from the church (red Booker brick), Asheville City Hall (Georgia pink marble, buff brick), and the new high school building (Balfour Pink, a local granite, and Airedale brick). He salvaged from other sources as well. The original building was a log cabin, chinked with stone and concrete, to which Ellington added a living room whose size was determined by that of logs from a schoolhouse being torn down. Some of the steps on the interior are curbing from the city of Asheville and Belgian block from the streets. The hardware on door and windows was hand-forged by Daniel Boone who had a forge in Burnside, North Carolina and was a descendant of the iconic Daniel Boone. The woodwork, designed by Ellington and often utilizing a chevron motif, was produced by Hugh Brown who had an antique and cabinet shop in Asheville. Iron grilles on doors were made from material which is the precusor of rebar and was used in concrete work at the time. Boone made the fireplace andirons from brass fire-hose nozzles. Exterior brick, with various colors of enamel paint on the surfaces, came from a building being torn down which had a sign painted on it. Guastavinao provided tiles and engineering for the entrance arcade on City Hall and Ellington incorporated tile remnants into his home as well. Ellington was known as a jackdaw, salvaging materials from any available source. Other young architects and draftsmen provided labor, allowing him to limit costs related to construction and create the charming Chunn's residence, built and landscaped to conform with the countours of the hill surrounded by mountains...."

American Express

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