University of North Carolina at Asheville
D. Hiden Ramsey Library
Special Collections

Nan Chase
Southern Appalachian Writers Collection



Title Nan Chase
Creator Southern Highlands Research Center
Alt. Creator D. H. Ramsey Library
Subject Keyword Nan Chase ; Southern Appalachian Writers ; Appalachia
Subject LCSH Chase, Nan, 1954 -
Description The collection contains anecdotal information on the writer.  These materials were gathered as part of an exhibition of Southern Appalachian Writers held at UNCA in the early 1980's and sponsored by D. H. Ramsey Library and the Southern Highlands Research Center.
Publisher D. H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
Date 2005-08-23
Type text 
Format 1 folder ; text
Source M2005.05.1-8
Language English
Relation The Heritage of Western North Carolina, D. H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 
Coverage 1900's - present ; Asheville
Rights Any display, publication, or public use must credit the D. H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.  Some materials in collections are electronic rights only. Please ask for assistance from Special Collections staff.
Donor 240
Acquisition  2004-03-
Citation Nan Chase in Southern Appalachian Writers Collection, D. H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
Processed by Special Collections staff,  2005
Last update 2008-08-25
Statements on writing Some notes on Asheville: A History
I wanted to share some brief thoughts on the remaining chapters, as a sort of insider's guide:
Ch. 7, Sticks and Stones. This chapter came about because as I did research on the earliest days of Asheville's history, the written records all referred to a proportionally large African American population, yet when I spent time in downtown Asheville, especially, I simply didn't see that. What happened to the black population? How, if there was a robust black commercial and social life, did Asheville become a city with a distressed and highly visible black underclass? I needed to answer those questions, and of course the answer was complicated and unpleasant in many respects. The middle class, in many cases, got disgusted and left.
    Previous Asheville histories have been of the "we live together in harmony" variety. As a Jew myself, I felt a deep responsibility to simply tell the truth, which was otherwise. I do feel my original contribution here was to "do the math," in the case of property and voting numbers (top p. 144) and in bringing to light the uneven medical and educational systems. One can suddenly understand the tremendous handicap of having emerged from slavery without capital, and how that contributed to mid-20th century social problems.
Ch. 8, The Spreading Malaise. The 1950's are often represented as an era of sunshine, fun, progress, modernity. Yet as I wrote that chapter, I could feel a physical sense of being dragged down. And I got a feel for Asheville's typical method of solving problems: everyone talks everything to death and nothing gets done. The I-26 bridge/connector issue today is an example.
Ch. 9, Lumbering Phoenix. Here was a case of "newspapers as a rough draft of history." By piecing together many months of reporting on city finances I came up with a much more devasting portrait of decline. Those numbers are frightening (p. 186) and may indicate our own future in the next decade or so. It was also astounding to recall the high, high interest rates and other poor economy indicators; I had a lot of fun looking up those numbers and trying to get the most accurate figures, and also recalled that in those days one had to have a 20 percent down payment to get a mortgage.
Ch. 10, Hoppin' and Poppin'. Here's where the previous written record started to fade away and I relied on a lot of original interviews. That was very enjoyable. This was going to the be last chapter, simply bringing the narrative up to "today" (2006). But as I did the interviews, I realized that Asheville's history is so fast-moving that the book would be out of date and "dead" before it was published. So I decided to ask all the subject what they saw for the city in the next 10 or 15 years. Those answers became the basis for Ch. 11.
Ch. 11, The Day after Tomorrow. Here, too, was a chance to relate some W. Asheville history, which always seems to get short shrift. It's interesting how that area really feels like a separate town. Also, interesting to me how fast things go out of date (city manager is gone, and the Pack Plaza is years behind schedule). This was my first book, and when I got to the last paragraph I realized I had finished. When I hit the Save button, I nearly threw up. It was that emotional. And for the first time in my life I became paranoid, and spent a couple of weeks afraid to leave the house for fear I would get hit by a car and never get the last bits finished.
It turned out OK!
Biography Article in The Appalachian



. Eat Your Yard: Edible Trees, Shrubs, vines, Herbs and Flowers for Your Landscape.
Gibbs Smith Publishers, 2010


Asheville: A History.  Jefferson
NC: McFarland & Company, 2007.


Bark House Style: Sustainable Designs From Nature. Gibbs Smith, Publishers, 2008.


 Growing a Healthy Crop For Christmas, 1996.


Chase, Nan, "Playing Garden Sleuth: Just as with your house, researching your old landscape can be half the fun." Old House Journal, 2008