Maybe President Obama is tired of looking at pillars, and porticos, and all that formal Federal-style decoration. That would explain why he and Michelle are fleeing Washington for a weekend at a place that’s about as different from the White House as you can get, architecturally speaking: the Grove Park Inn, in Asheville, N.C.
Well, we think that’s where he’s going, anyway. The White House is saying only that the first couple is going to Asheville, without confirming where they’re sleeping. But local media – which would know, because they’d see the Secret Service advance guard – are reporting that the Obamas are Grove Park Inn-bound.
The Grove Park Inn is one of the best remaining examples in America of an Arts and Crafts resort. Arts and Crafts (sometimes called Mission) is a style that relies on big slabs of quarter-sawn oak, rough stones, and a generally rustic appearance. It’s a plain look that dates from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was a reaction against the fussiness of the Victorian era.
In fact, for 20 years the Grove Park has hosted one of the premier US annual Arts and Crafts conferences.
Yes, maybe Barack and Michelle will be in the new part of the hotel, which resembles a luxury conference center, circa 1999. But they won’t be able to miss the great main building, with its huge granite fireplaces, and a big porch overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. And they’ll see the resort’s outstanding collection of Mission furniture, which includes stuff bought for the Grove Park Inn opening in 1913 from the famous Roycroft community of craft workers.
No chairs that look like Thomas Jefferson sat in them, or could have. No eagle decorations. No acanthus leaves.
Of course, instead of admiring hammered copper lamps, the president might be on the links. He stayed at the Grove Park during the final months of the presidential campaign and complained that he spent all his time preparing for debates, and none playing golf.
It won’t be a long break. On Sunday, Mr. Obama is scheduled to travel to West Virginia to address a memorial service for the miners who died there in a mine accident on April 5.