September 20, 2020
Sep 20, 2020
Built in 15 months in 1938-1939, The Asheville Citizen Times Building was designed by architect Anthony Lord as the grand center for the city’s two newspapers and radio station WWNC. Located at 14 O’Henry Avenue, the massive three-story building of reinforced concrete, black granite and limestone is considered Asheville’s finest example of Art Moderne design. With soaring twenty-two foot ceilings, mezzanines with curved railings, and 20,000 glass blocks providing natural light and insulation, there is no other space like it in Asheville.
In 2019, Citizen Vinyl claimed the dramatic first floor and its decorative mezzanines as the future home of a vinyl record pressing plant, a bar/café and record store, as well as the third floor’s historic WWNC radio station studio, recently restored into a beautiful, modern analog recording studio and media lab.
Both The Asheville Citizen (the morning paper) and The Asheville Times (afternoon) were born in the late 19th century but did not find common ownership until 1930, under Charles Webb. He had previously bought the WWNC radio station, and in April of that year, he moved his two newspapers and radio station into the newly built Asheville Citizen Times building. The two papers were printed in the basement of the building from 1939 until 1986, when the printing was moved to a new facility in nearby Enka, NC. The papers finally merged into a single edition, The Asheville Citizen Times, in 1991. The paper’s staff still works out of offices in the building’s second floor.
And while the printing presses are long gone, Citizen Vinyl is proud to be reviving production in downtown Asheville by replacing the print manufacturing tradition with a new one—the pressing of vinyl records.
On February 21, 1927, WWNC radio (‘Wonderful Western North Carolina’) first broadcast from the nearby Flat Iron building in downtown Asheville. Its two large transmission towers on the Flat Iron’s roof earned WWNC the title of “the highest broadcasting station east of the Mississippi.” The station’s 1,000 watt signal reached across the South and East, promoting the region’s natural beauty and Asheville’s bountiful culture of arts, crafts and commerce.
From the start, the station (at 540 AM) featured live musical performances, stretching from orchestras and choirs to banjo pickers and fiddlers. In 1927, Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music, performed on WWNC and in early 1939, a new group called Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys played daily, launching a new style of American music. That same year WWNC would find a new home on the third floor of the Asheville Citizen Times Building, where a state-of-the art radio studio complex was created, drawing on the most sophisticated acoustic and sound technologies of the day. Today Citizen Vinyl has transformed the historic third floor radio station into a modern music production/recording studio, under the name of Citizen Studios. Learn more here >