PSABC Announces 2018 Griffin Awards

Bill Bell accepts the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County 2018 Sondley Award / Photo by Cindy Kunst

By Mark-Ellis Bennett

The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County announced the 2018 recipients of their annual Griffin Awards in a presentation at the historic Asheville Masonic Temple. The ever affable executive director Jack Thomson served as master of ceremonies. The Historic Resources Commission of Asheville and Buncombe County also presented their Sondley Award at the event, and the recipient was John W. “Bill” Bell, Jr.

Thomson said the Historic Resources Commission was created in 1979 with the support of the Preservation Society and for the local ordinance adopted by both the City of Asheville and Buncombe County. The Sondley Award is presented to an individual or group in the community who by word or deed has kindled among the citizenry of Asheville and Buncombe County an appreciation for the history or historic resources of the area. HRC chair Brian Moffitt presented the award to Bell.

Moffitt noted that for over 60 years Bell has had a community presence as a local retailer. “More than that, he is passionate about retailing. Mr. Bell has been involved through his own buildings, and now as a founding member of Biltmore Property Group, with the historic preservation of many buildings in and among Biltmore Village, the historic Biltmore School, and other properties in the area,” he said.

Bell, who lives in a Biltmore Forest home constructed in the 1920s said, “If we didn’t have this Preservation Society then Biltmore Forest and Asheville wouldn’t be what they are today. I’d like to thank them for what they’ve done, and what they will continue to do. Thank you very much for this award.” 

The 13 Griffin Awards were presented in the categories of Adaptive Reuse, Rehabilitation, Restoration, and Education.

Adaptive Reuse

Curate Expansion – Expansion of the ever popular Curate Tapas Bar into the neighboring space at 13 Biltmore Ave. while celebrating the building’s 1920s history.

4 Riverside Drive: Arts & Culture Center – Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this building was donated to the city of Asheville by PSNC Energy and will be used as an Arts & Culture Center after being unused for more than 50 years.

Sean Piper used his life savings to rescue this property, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was once neglected to the point of condemnation, and open Jargon.

The Bunn House – When for sale, the property was marketed with plans to convert the home into office space and add dense development to the 1.3 acre site. However, the current owners saw an opportunity to preserve and honor the history of the house and neighborhood by converting it to a bed and breakfast.

Charles George VA Medical Center – With holes in the roof and nature taking over, historic Building No. 9 was once slated for demolition. But with community support and encouragement, the Veteran’s Administration made the commitment to save Building No. 9 from being lost forever.

White Labs Asheville – This project is special because they were able to take a building that was more than a century old, that in most cases would have been torn down, and give it new life, as well as providing a growing area with a new business.


21 Dyer Drive – Abandoned for more than 15 years and considered by many to be a tear-down, this home was given new life by Patricia Mabe and Jesus Ortiz.

97 Broad St. – Homeowners Jo Stephenson and David Larsen had to deal with a failing foundation before rebuilding the home built by Asheville Fish Market proprietor C.C. Willis in 1908 from the inside out.

Hedden House – The date of the original home is unknown, but it is believed that the home was rebuilt in 1929 after a fire, which is supported by a number of fire damaged bricks found on the property and a copy of an Atlanta Journal newspaper dated Nov. 17, 1929, found in the attic wall during the rehab project.

New Gunston Hall – This meticulous rehabilitation in Biltmore Forest went so far as to locate the still in business brickyard for the 1920s home and using the original invoice, have them replicate the brick to use in repairs.

Possum Trot Cottage – This rustic shingle style home is a contributing structure in the Albemarle Park Manor-Grounds National Register Historic District and owners Will and Amy Hornaday have ensured it will continue to be a special place on the hillside of Albemarle Park for decades to come.


Funded through memorial gifts to honor Greg Byrd, Christopher Byrd, Phillip Byrd and Jackelyn Kulzer who died in an Atlanta plane crash, the church’s stained glass windows by famed glass artist Mary Elizabeth Tillinghast have been lovingly restored.


Kieta Osteen-Cochrane – PSABC board member and education committee chair Kieta Osteen-Cochrane was recognized for the outstanding education programming she has facilitated for the community over the past several years.

Osteen-Cochrane is an Asheville native with deep family roots spanning of eight generations in western North Carolina. She joined the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County in 2010 to form a committee to save from demolition the beautiful St. Genevieve of the Pines auditorium, a Gothic Revival jewel on the Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College campus also known as the Ivy Building. Also saved by her efforts was the nearby and much beloved Grotto of Lourdes.

Osteen-Cochrane has served as education chair on the Preservation Society board since 2013, hosting eight to ten events annually. The script for the awards concluded, “Through Kieta’s guidance the Preservation Society has served thousands of our citizens with intriguing and important stories. There are award winners here tonight that have come to preservation through Kieta’s work, and we are humble to have her leadership and honored to have her here tonight.”