Time running out to save Our Lady of Lourdes grotto on campus of A-B Tech


There’s a push on to find a new home for a landmark known as the Our Lady of Lourdes grotto, which sits on the grounds of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. The grotto was a place for quiet meditation on the campus of a previous school on the site, the old St. Genevieve-of-the Pines school, a unique school established by a French order of nuns.

In about two months, the grotto will be demolished unless somebody comes forward to save the structure and have it moved to a new location. School alumnae are working on it, writes Asheville Citizen-Times columnist Rob Neufeld, who blogs it here:

The alumnae have two months to save the grotto before it has to be demolished for new construction at A-B Tech. Bill Wescott, Historic Preservation Consultant, has determined that the structure is stable.

“We are looking for a home for the grotto,” Osteen-Cochrane, lead alumna in the Save-the-Ivy campaign, emphasizes. “It could be located at a church or another appropriate site, and it could be repurposed for rest and meditation.”

There’s a lot of cool history connected with St. Genevieve and the grotto. Here’s some, from Carolina Day School:

Nuns from a French order known as “The Religious of Christian Education” established St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines (SGP) in 1908. In the beginning, it was both a day school for boys and girls ages six to thirteen, and a boarding school for girls ages fourteen to eighteen. In 1912, St. Genevieve’s College was added, which offered a two-year course in French as well as a four-year liberal arts curriculum. In 1930, the college evolved into a two-year college, named St. Genevieve’s Junior College, which operated until 1955, when it became the School for Secretaries. In 1949, the boys in grades K-8 from the day school moved into a separate building, and Gibbons Hall School for Boys was founded. Both SGP and Gibbons Hall were accredited by SACS; in fact, SGP was a charter member. At its zenith, the campus on Victoria Road encompassed over 35 acres.

Asheville Country Day School

Asheville Country Day School (ACDS) was founded in 1936 by a group of local parents who sought better high school preparation for their children. First housed on Victoria Road, the K-9 school grew quickly.

The merger

In the 1960s and 1970s, private schools all over the country struggled to stay open. By 1971, the religious order was no longer able to support both SGP and Gibbons Hall. With the help of parents, the two schools merged to form St. Genevieve/Gibbons Hall School (SG/GH). SG/GH was an independent, co-ed, day school for boys and girls in kindergarten through ninth grade. In 1984, in an effort to combat rising costs and declining enrollments at both schools, SG/GH and ACDS began merger talks. In 1987, the two schools finally merged. The Victoria Road campus was sold to Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College (AB-Tech), and a new school, Carolina Day School, was born on the Hendersonville Road campus.


emily March 3, 2013 - 11:38 am

what year was the Grotto built?

fido February 28, 2013 - 6:03 pm

i got room in my back-yard in the pine trees, if somebody helps me pay to move it. sad sad sad that my alma-mater would even consider demolishing such a place of solace and meditation.

Chris McNabb, Mod Sprog February 28, 2013 - 5:56 pm

It is located just beside the A-B Tech Early Education Center. If you are traveling away from Mission along Victoria, the road is between Victoria Urological and Asheville High on the right. The road splits at the crest of the hill and the grotto sits just between the roads.
Anyone going to check it out during the week, 7:30a – 5:30p, please be mindful of the children at the center, especially during typical drop-off and pick-up times.

NFB February 28, 2013 - 12:53 pm

If I recall correctly it is at the far end of the parking lot near the Pines building which is, more or less, across Victoria Rd from the back off Asheville High. I could be thinking of somewhere else but that is the part of the now AB-TECH property that was once a part of the St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines school.

Jeff February 28, 2013 - 11:44 am

So does anybody actually know where it is on the campus? It would be cool to check out before it is destroyed.

Allene February 27, 2013 - 11:44 pm

Awful the way non thinkers destroy our history…

Murphy February 27, 2013 - 6:51 pm

one would think that it would be of enough historical revelance that AB-Tech would try to relocate it on the campus … as opposed to destroying it.

Nate February 28, 2013 - 6:54 am

It’s a specifically Catholic religious shrine on the grounds of a public/government-funded organization. Leaving it in place as a historical landmark is one thing, but forcing construction plans to work around it or spending thousands and thousands of dollars in public money to re-establish it in another location would probably run into church-state issues. And rightly so.

Murphy February 28, 2013 - 10:02 am

The “government/public funded” school, bought the historical property with the grotto in place.

Jeff February 27, 2013 - 4:47 pm

Where is this on the AB Tech campus?

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