D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections and University Archives

Overlook Castle Photograph Collection

Summary Information

UNC Asheville Special Collections and University Archives
Overlook Castle Photograph Collection
Date [inclusive]
1919-1926 (estimated)
0.2 Linear feet  ; 1 box
Physical Description
Contains photographic prints negatives

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item],Overlook Castle Photographic Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804

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Historic Note

Overlook Castle was built by Fred Loring Seely, a pharmaceutical chemist, and principal executive of a large medicine company founded by his father-in-law, Dr. E.W. Grove, who was one of Asheville's leading developers in the early 20th century. Seely subsequently designed and managed the Grove Park Inn, and later he and his wife owned the Battery Park Hotel in Asheville.

Seely was given land on top of Sunset Mountain by his father-in-law as a site for home soon after Seely arrived in Asheville. The main building was constructed about 1919 with the library wing being added later. Seely acted as architect, and the outer walls were constructed by Italian workmen who had worked on the Grove Park Inn and still lived locally. Stone from a three story rock 'bungalow' that was previously on the site was used in constructing the castle, and the in fireplace in the assembly room there were stones marked by copper plated from Blarney Castle and the Tower of London. The mantel in the library was previously owned by Sir Robert Peel, and the Italian stone lions at the entrance were given to Seely by Dr. Grove. Until around 1929, 20 or more deer were kept on the lawn of the estate.

Fred Seely died in 1942, and his wife Evelyn Grove Seely continued to live in Overlook until 1949, when the property was sold to Asheville-Biltmore College. Some of the photographs in this collection feature in a realtor's brochure for the 1949 sale. The college occupied the "College in the Sky" until 1961,and since then, the property has been owned by a number of different people and organizations.

[Partly adapted from article in the Asheville Citizen-Times, March 15, 1942, and material supplied to Asheville-Biltmore College by Mrs. Evelyn Seely in July 1951.]

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Scope and Contents

A collection of nineteen photographic prints and negatives of Overlook Castle in Asheville, NC. The images generally date from the 1920s when the castle was used as a private residence, and were originally included as part of the university archives, possibly because they were obtained when Asheville-Biltmore College purchased the castle in 1949. They have been reprocessed as a separate collection as the images all predate the years during which Asheville-Biltmore College owned the property.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

UNC Asheville Special Collections and University Archives

Ramsey Library, CPO # 1500
One University Heights
Asheville, North Carolina, 28804-8504


No restrictions. Any display, publication, or public use must credit the University Archives, 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.


Asheville-Biltmore College. Univerty of North Carolina Asheville

Processing Information

Originally processed and included in university archives by Special Collections staff, date(s) unknown. Reprocessed as a separate collection by Colin Reeve, September 2015.

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Collection Inventory

Box 1 

Overlook 1: Distant view of Asheville from Overlook Castle [Print] 

Overlook 2: Overlook Castle, exterior, south side before addition of library and east wing [Print] 

Overlook 3: Drive to playground and upper garage. Photo by Asheville Photo Co. [Print] 

Overlook 4: Distant view of Overlook seen from southeast [Print] 

Overlook 5: Overlook Castle, exterior (under construction?) with scaffolding. Photographed by A-B Photo Service, Asheville NC [2 identical prints, 5A & 5B] 

Overlook 6: Overlook Castle exterior, near view along driveway [Print] 

Overlook 7: Overlook Castle exterior, courtyard. Card mounted with memorandum of instructions dated Dec 17, 1923: "Mr. Roller: Will you please file the attached photo in the envelope containing Grove park Inn photographs? E. N. Rosenberger" [Print] 

Overlook 8: Overlook Castle looking up grassed area towards castle [Negative] 

Overlook 9: Overlook Castle exterior, looking along driveway to towards castle gate [Negative] 

Overlook 10: Overlook Castle exterior, wall and doorway flanked by two stone lions. [Negative] 

Overlook 11: Overlook Castle interior room, unfurnished [Print] 

Overlook 12: Overlook Castle interior room with grand piano in foreground [Negative] 

Overlook 13: Overlook Castle interior, reception court [Print] 

Overlook 14: Overlook Castle interior, room being painted. Photographed by A-B Photo Service, Asheville NC [Taken at same times as #15] [Print] 

Overlook 15: Overlook Castle interior, room being painted. "Nov 29 1926" stamped on rear [Taken at same times as #14] [Print] 

Overlook 16: Overlook Castle interior, room, table with vase in center 

Overlook 17: Overlook Castle interior, room with grand piano [Print] 

Overlook 18: Overlook Castle interior, music room [Print] 

Overlook 19: Overlook Castle interior, west and north sides of living room. Stairway to dining room north side [Print]