A Modern History: The Foundry Hotel

Words by Ashley Locke

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Gentrification has been plaguing American cities for decades, and the trend has only increased in recent years. While the juice bars and high-rise apartments are welcome to some, they’re often built at the expense of the rich culture and heritage of the residents who were already there–but when The Foundry Hotel set its sights on The Block in Asheville, it made preserving the neighborhood’s history a priority.

The Foundry’s name was born from the building’s beginnings as the Asheville Supply & Foundry Co. The steel mill was an integral part of the city’s construction––it provided the steel for the Biltmore Estate and much of downtown. Asheville quite literally wouldn’t have been the same without it, which is why the team at The Foundry put so much consideration into keeping its history alive.

Much of the hotel’s exterior is the original brick, and the stunning suites feature industrial style windows. Inside you’ll find gems like an original elevator pulley system, beams, and staircases, as well as a staff excited to share stories about each well-thought detail and how they tie to the building’s past. 

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Although The Foundry spent a lot of effort renovating the historical structure, they placed just as much emphasis on maintaining its cultural ties. The Block is one of Asheville’s most well known historically African American neighborhoods, and the hotel’s stand-out restaurant, Benne on Eagle, pays homage to that. James Beard Award nominated John Fleer heads the restaurant.  He worked with Chef de Cuisine, Ashleigh Shanti, to develop an Appalachian menu that feels true to the African American culinary tradition in the area. From the brunch Trout and Grits to dinner’s Onion-Braised Rabbit, there isn’t a dish you’ll want to skip.

The hotel bar, known as the Workshop Lounge, has its own way of keeping history alive. Thursday nights feature a 10-piece orchestra that plays hundred-year-old prohibition-era hits. Visitors and locals alike pack the house––drawn by the music, but staying for the smoked old fashioneds and fig derbys.

At the end of the night, there’s one last glimpse of an era gone-by. The hotel offers turn-down service––a hot mug of local tea and a treat, plus a card with the next day’s weather left on your bed. It’s a gesture that makes the hotel feel like home.

If you’re tired of playing tourist when you travel, a stay at The Foundry is a breath of fresh air. It’s more than a hotel––it’s the perfect way to experience the true culture of Asheville. Check out our weekend guide to Asheville below!

A Weekend in Asheville:

Thursday 

  • 4:00 PM: Check in to The Foundry Hotel (Forget your hiking gear? Don’t worry––they’ve got you covered!)

  • 6:00 PM: Take a short walk to John Fleer’s Rhubarb for dinner.

  • 7:30 PM: Head back to the hotel’s Workshop Lounge for live music and cocktails. (The fig-infused bourbon is a must-try.)

  • 9:00 PM: Return to your room and enjoy the turn-down service.

Friday

Saturday

  • 8:00 AM: Have a quick breakfast at Button & Co. Bagels.

  • 10:00 AM: Head to the Biltmore Estate for the ultimate Land Rover Experience. (If you’re lucky, the Foundry’s Tesla will be available to drop you off.)

  • 12:00 PM: Lunch is Benne on Eagle, round 2!

  • 2:00 PM: Explore Asheville’s Downtown, and grab dinner while you’re at it.

  • 9:00 PM: Learn your birth chart under the stars with Liv By Design.

Sunday

  • 8:00 AM: Enjoy Sunday brunch at Benne on Eagle.

  • 10:00 AM: Pack up and check out. (Sad, we know!)