The Asheville Antiques Fair:
        Preserving the Past, Present & Future

An Inspired Beginning

It began one day with a conversation on a train bound for New York City. The year was 1945, and two Asheville women, Beulah Harrison and Ava Keener, were headed to the City’s renowned Antiques Fair.

The trip inspired the pair, who believed that serious study would foster an understanding and appreciation of antiques, to create the Vetust Study Club of Asheville and later, the Asheville Antiques Fair.

Since 1946, the Vetust (from the Latin root meaning “of the ancient”) Study Club has hosted the nationally-known Asheville Antiques Fair to raise money for area organizations and foundations in need. It also has remained steadfast in its commitment to support the conservation, preservation and restoration of Asheville’s unique historical and cultural landmarks.

Supporting Community Efforts

The Asheville Antiques Fair has generated and contributed more than a half-million dollars to numerous projects benefitting the greater Asheville-Buncombe County community.

The profits have aided the restoration and furnishing of the Smith-McDowell House Museum, the oldest surviving house in Asheville and one of the earliest homes in the county. Other grants were made to the Pack Place Education, Arts & Science Center; the Thomas Wolfe Memorial house; Asheville Symphony; Asheville Urban Trail; Habitat for Humanity; and the Richard Sharp Smith-designed building housing Asheville’s public radio station WCQS and The Grove Arcade Public Market Foundation..

The recipient of the 2018-2019 Asheville Antiques Fair will benefit The Preservation of the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Archives at Mars Hill College.

The Club also continues to make annual gifts to several community charities each year, such as Western Carolina Rescue Ministries, Meals on Wheels, the Asheville-Buncombe County Community Ministry, and the Salvation Army.

A History of Giving

Since its beginnings, many have been touched by the generosity of the Vetust Study Club members.

The Club’s first known contribution was $5.00 to the Library Fund at Asheville Biltmore College (UNCA). In time, the Club’s sizable reference book collection was transferred to the Western Carolina Historical Society and later provided to the library at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

Meanwhile, the Club’s social services committee has addressed a variety of community concerns since it began decades ago. Among the first was the need for food and basic life supplies for displaced Koreans. Through CARE (Cooperative Association for American Remittances to Everywhere, Inc.), the Club contributed food to an orphanage with 300 children and became foster parents to a Korean child.

Children’s welfare has remained a focus with gifts distributed to several children’s homes, the Boys Club, Santa Pal, the Eblen Children’s Foundation, the Irene Wortham Center and the Association for Retarded Children of Buncombe County. In addition, the Club contributed many items to disabled children at the Asheville Orthopedic Hospital, including a refrigerator, washing machine, sewing machine, special tables and chairs, walkers, a page turner, record players and records.

Education also has been a priority for the Vetust Club, which has provided college scholarships and assistance to Asheville Biltmore College (now UNCA), Brevard College, Mars Hill College, Maryville College, and Warren Wilson College. A scholarship was awarded to a student at Eliada Home for Children and Mountain Orphanage, currently Presbyterian Home for Children, and local secondary schools have also received gifts.

Recognition for its Efforts

Throughout the years, the community has shown its appreciation for the Vetust Club’s important work and the success and contributions of the Asheville Antiques Fair.

Awards received have included: The Silver Cup for Historical Research, by the Western North Carolina Historical Association, for research, location and actual placement of furnishings at the Zebulon Baird Vance Birthplace, Reems Creek, Buncombe County (1962); The Raymond A. Hurst Philanthropic Leadership Award from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (1997); and The Griffin Leadership Award, from the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County (2009), a Proclamation from the City of Asheville presented to the Vetust Study Club and signed by Mayor Terry Bellamy – declaring , July 22, (2009) as Vetust Study Club Day, recognizing the work of the Vetust Study Club in the community serving as an ambassador of goodwill, representing the City and the Citizens of Asheville.

“Let us seek to know, to find, and to preserve worthily the handiwork of our forefathers. May we always remember that we are the inheritors of the past and the trustees of the future.” – Vetust Study Club

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