The Wrap of Downtown Asheville

“This is not a protest, but an educational event”

– Peggy L. Gardner.[ref]Peggy Gardner, In “Downtown To Be Wrapped” The Asheville Citizen, April 16, 1980[/ref]

Scans0018On April 19th 1980, one of the most memorable events occurred during the Save Downtown Asheville movement was the Wrap of 1980. Using pieces of cloth tied together, citizens roughly outlined the proposed area of construction of the mall. Many people were drawn out to participate and quickly the city was surrounded in white sheets. The event received a lot of press attention and brought attention to just how much of Asheville was going to be demolished.

The wrap was organized by local artist Peggy L. Gardner. A UNC-Asheville senior and a native of Asheville, Gardner was inspired by the art work of Javacheff Valimiov Christo. Much of Christo’s work involves wrapping objects or using fabric to draw attention to the placement of the work. The project that mainly inspired Asheville’s wrap was Christo’s The Running Fence in California.[ref]Peggy Gardner, In “Downtown To Be Wrapped” The Asheville Citizen, April 16, 1980[/ref]

“Downtown Asheville ‘Wrapped’ The Asheville Citizen, April 20, 1980.
Lexington Avenue lined with people. “Downtown Asheville ‘Wrapped’ The Asheville Citizen, April 20, 1980. Photo courtesy of the Asheville Citizen Times.

Gardner hoped that the piece would draw attention to the area. She said that she was neither for nor against the development, but hoped the art would be educational. She also hoped to bring the Asheville community together. The cloth outlined the area starting at Lexington and Broadway. The cloth was then moved down around Haywood Street and back down Walnut. Calling for 135 people to help with the event and 15 runners to move the cloth around the city, the event drew out roughly 200 people.[ref]Gardner, In “Downtown To Be Wrapped” The Asheville Citizen[/ref]

For 10 minutes on a Saturday afternoon, North Lexington Avenue was wrapped in cloth fabric. Gardner spent all of the previous night awake, tying together the fabric, donated by recycling plant in Biltmore. People of all types participated in the wrap, independent of disability, race, or status. [ref]Tony Brown, “Downtown Asheville ‘Wrapped’ The Asheville Citizen, April 20, 1980[/ref]



[ref]Here, the “wrap” rounds the corner at Broadway and College Street, demonstrating that all buildings behind this boundary would be leveled. This corner would, in the ’90s, house Beanstreets Coffee, and currently houses Green Sage Cafe. Photo by R. Anne Martin, courtesy of of the N.C. Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library[/ref]

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