Appalachian Hall

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Appalachian Hall
Opened 1931 (As a mental facility)
Closed 1999
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Single Building
Architect(s) Richard Greene
Location Asheville, NC
Architecture Style Tudor Revival
Alternate Names
  • USA General Hospital No. 12.
  • Kenilworth Inn
  • U.S. Naval Convalescent Hospital, Kenilworth Park
  • Charter Asheville




History[edit]

Opening[edit]

Originally opened as a resort/hotel. The primary architecture of the newly constructed resort hotel was Tudor Revival, including rough stone masonry and a re-worked porte-cochere entranceway. Masonry contrasted nicely with stucco and a half timbered exterior, while the half hipped and gabled dormers created a dramatic roof line. Unfortunately, before Chiles could capitalize on his dream of a new Kenilworth Inn, the Army saw the new construction as the perfect place for a wartime convalescence hospital.

James Chiles leased Kenilworth Inn to the Army in February 1918, just one month after the building’s construction was completed. The Army had been expressing their interest in Kenilworth since 1917, when they announced their plans for a hospital to be built in Azalea, NC. But the hospital would not be completed until September 1919. The Army’s decision to lease Kenilworth Inn while their new hospital was being built in Azalea stemmed primarily from the emergent need for a facility that could house sick and wounded soldiers, primarily those suffering from tuberculosis. So Chiles leased Kenilworth to the Army and the building became US. General Hospital No. 12, alternately referred to as U.S. Army Convalescence Hospital No. 12, or more plainly: Biltmore Hospital.

After resuming control over Kenilworth Inn in 1923, Chiles operated the resort hotel with great success until the stock market crash of 1929. Hotel services offered at Kenilworth were contemporary with other Asheville resorts, such as the Grove Park Inn. Both hotels provided rooms that were replete with modern conveniences for the well-paying guest.

Soon after annexation of Kenilworth, bank closings in Asheville caused the Kenilworth Inn Company to default on its payments to Carolina WoodProducts Company. The assets of the Kenilworth Realty Co, including Kenilworth Inn, were sold on the Court House steps for $1200. The Chiles’ holdings were essentially wiped out.

Psychiatric Hospital[edit]

After being sold, Kenilworth Inn sat empty for one year before reopening as a sanatorium. The old structure, with its spacious interior, drew the attention of two local doctors, William Ray Griffin, Sr., and his brother, Mark Griffin, who purchased and then converted the inn into a mental health facility in October 1931.

With an increasing number of patients in need of treatment during the depression, the two doctors were challenged. Their burgeoning practice had outgrown Appalachian Hall, the facility which had operated on French Broad Avenue in Asheville from 1916 until 1931.

The Griffin brothers quickly found that Kenilworth Inn, with its generous use of space, quiet halls, and impressive exterior grounds, suited their method of treatment for mental disorders. The building was renamed Appalachian Hall to maintain the connection with their previous facility.

In order to preserve the layout of the original construction as much as possible, little was changed beyond the name and the addition of examination and treatment rooms. The Griffins also resisted changing the surrounding property so that patients not needing to be placed in isolation might be encouraged to participate in the same outdoor activities as guests of Kenilworth Inn had enjoyed in previous years.

In an era when many of their contemporaries were still providing treatments solely upon physical ailments, the Griffins approach to psychiatry went beyond the standard treatments of hydrotherapy, thermo therapy and electro therapy. The facilities at Appalachian Hall provided a means for treatments that were varied according to the individual and usually included a mixture of approved recreational, occupational, and physical therapies. There were other privately owned mental health facilities in Asheville, but Appalachian Hall, under the supervision of the Griffin brothers, fostered a more forward thinking approach to treatment of psychiatric disorders.

World War II[edit]

During the Second World War, the United States government again found it necessary to seek locations for battle weary and wounded soldiers to convalesce. In February 1943, Kenilworth’s Appalachian Hall was pressed into service as “U.S. Naval Convalescent Hospital, Kenilworth Park,” and the Griffin brothers’ treatment center was temporarily moved into two Asheville area hotels, the Princess Anne Hotel on Furman Street and the Forest Hill Inn in Kenilworth.

Post-War[edit]

In 1946, the Navy vacated Appalachian Hall and the hospital there was deactivated. The building was then reoccupied by Dr. William Griffin and his brother, Dr. Mark Griffin, and reopened as Appalachian Hall. In the early 1950s, the Griffins helped to incorporate the latest medical advances and treatments at Appalachian Hall, including the use of tranquilizers, application of newly developed diagnostic methods, and labs set up for neurological science and diagnosis.

From the 1950s through the early 1970s, the Griffins made Appalachian Hall a leading light in the Asheville community as a place where patients were provided the latest diagnostic and treatment methods, as well as a relatively secluded and relaxing atmosphere where recreation was as significant to recovery as psychiatric method.

Economics again played a roll in Kenilworth’s history when, in the 1980s, the Griffins sold Appalachian Hall to Magellan Enterprises, a real estate holdings company. The sale of Appalachian Hall can be attributed to increasing costs of maintaining such a large structure as a viable hospital, as well as increasing pressure from major insurance companies looking for shorter treatments and faster results, which naturally went against the grain of the Griffin brothers’ long standing treatment philosophy.

Charter Behavioral Health System purchased Kenilworth Inn in 1994 and the building became known as Charter Asheville. Charter Asheville operated as a 139 bed psychiatric hospital employing 175 people until it closed in 1999. The following year the building was purchased by a private developer and converted into apartments.

Images[edit]

Links[edit]

Website for current use as apartments