Updated: April 2019
A Modern Hospital
After the Clarence Barker Memorial Hospital had suffered twice from severe fires in 1921 and with the second fire almost destroying the hospital, Edith Vanderbilt provided 15 acres to build a 100-room hospital made of fireproof bricks. Several fundraising events such as cabaret dinners and dances were conducted between 1923 and 1928 to help finance the new hospital. The Biltmore Hospital Benefit Society, Inc., was also established with membership dues of $12, all contributing to raising the needed funds.
Today, the Posh Boutique Hotel is located in the former Biltmore Hospital.
Interesting Art Deco Architecture
In 1929 Douglas D. Ellington was retained to architect the four-story, fifty-bed hospital. Construction was completed a year later in 1930. At the time, when Douglas Ellington designed Biltmore Hospital, he was already well known for his modern Art Deco style, which he had used in his prior commissions, such as the Historic First Baptist Church (1925), the Asheville City Hall (1926), the → Asheville Fire Department Station 4 (1926), the → Asheville High School (1929) and the S&W Cafeteria (1929).
To make the façade more exciting and appealing, Douglas Ellington combined “regularly-coarse, thinly cut stone” with larger randomly placed stone blocks. At both ends of the façade, at the first and third bay, two panels of stone veneer extend upwards to the cornice. Angled brick pilasters subdivide the second bay. Douglas Ellington then placed narrower windows in the space creating a unique and appealing overall appearance. To augment this appearance and to counterbalance the ubiquitous buff-colored brick, Douglas Ellington used various natural stone shades – mostly rose, pink, yellow and orange.
After opening in 1930, Biltmore Hospital operated through the Great Depression years until 1952, when the Imperial Life Insurance Company of North Carolina purchased the building. To house their mortgage loan and accounting department, Imperial Life Insurance Company retained Douglas Ellington to design a new two-story wing and to remove some non-load bearing walls in the original house to make space for large open workrooms.
In 1957, the Imperial Life Insurance Company was bought out by Western and Southern Life Insurance Company of Cincinnati OH, which remained in the building until the early 1970s. The building then became an elderly care facility. In 1999, Crescent Investors of Asheville purchased the property and opened the → Posh Boutique Hotel in 2013.
Since 2005 the Biltmore Hospital building is part of the National Register of Historic Places.
About Douglas D. Ellington (1886-1960)
Architect Douglas Ellington is known for his work in the Art Deco style.
In 1886, Douglas Ellington was born in Clayton, North Carolina. He studied architecture at the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1911 Douglas Ellington won the Prix de Paris from the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects, which allowed him to study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
In 1913, he became the first American to win the Prix Rougevin for architecture, the top honor for decorative competitions.
In the early 1920s, Douglas Ellington opened an office in Pittsburgh, PA. His work rapidly transformed from the classical Beaux-Arts to the modern Art Deco style.
In 1926, Douglas Ellington moved to Asheville, North Carolina. Besides Biltmore Hospital, he architected other buildings in Asheville like the First Baptist Church (1925), the Asheville City Hall (1926), the S&W Cafeteria (1929) and the → Asheville High School (1929).
In 1930, following the stock market crash of 1929, Douglas Ellington moved to Washington, D.C., to serve as principal architect for the federally sponsored new town of Greenbelt, Maryland.
In 1937, Douglas Ellington moved to Charleston, South Carolina.
In 1960, Douglas Ellington died at his self-designed summer home on Chunns Cove Road in Asheville, North Carolina.
8 Village Lane, Asheville, NC 28803
STREET VIEWING ONLY.
Free street parking.
Public bus stop: Lodge Street at Biltmore Ave.
Stop Gray Line Historic Trolley: 5 Boston Way (at the store Olde World Christmas Shoppe)