Dr. Wesley Grant, Sr. Southside Center


Approving funding for this community center was among my first votes on City Council, and it’s deeply gratifying to see the doors open. The Grant Center will be a new community hub for residents of Southside neighborhood and the River Arts District. It symbolizes healthy renewal and a integration of vision across generations. Thanks to all of the partners who helped make it a reality. I hope you’ll come and celebrate with us.

City of Asheville press release:

The City of Asheville invites the public to the grand opening of the Dr. Wesley Grant, Sr. Southside Center, Asheville’s newest community center located at the former site of Livingston Street Park. Mayor Terry Bellamy will officiate the event on Thursday, October 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the center located at 285 Livingston Street at the corner of Livingston and Depot Street. The dedication ceremony begins at 5:30 followed by an open house until 7:30.

The new center is named after the late pastor, Dr. Wesley Grant, Sr. who in 1959, founded the Worldwide Missionary Baptist Tabernacle Church in 1959 and served for nearly 50 years. Dr. Grant was a prominent leader in Asheville’s African American community during the time of the civil rights movement and the period of Asheville’s urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s. The center name also recognizes the Southside community, a large geographic area that once surrounded the new center. Southside was a predominately African American community of businesses, churches and neighborhoods that were for the most part demolished during Asheville’s urban renewal.

The center is designed to be constructed in phases. The first phase, known as the Cultural Art phase, opens in October. This phase is 7,897 square feet and features an auditorium, three classrooms, office space, storage, and parking. The Physical Activity Phase will be constructed next and will include a gymnasium, a spray ground, playground, and a section of the Town Branch Greenway. The Community Phase will be the final piece of the project and will include space for community partner operations. Future phases will be constructed as funding becomes available.

The Dr. Wesley Grant, Sr. Southside Center is the first facility constructed by the City of Asheville to be LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system to provide building owners with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. Some of the LEED features include a green roof, geo-thermal heating and cooling, storm water runoff management, and natural interior lighting. During construction, more than 75% of all construction waste was diverted from the landfill and recycled.

The center was designed by Mathews Architecture, P.A. and constructed by H&M Constructors. Mathews Architecture was recently honored with the 2011 Firm of the Year Award from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The award is the highest honor bestowed on an architectural practice by the NCAIA, and it is the first time a firm in western North Carolina has received the award. The Dr. Wesley Grant, Sr. Southside Center is one of the firm’s most recent projects considered in the award.

The $2.9 million center construction was funded by a number of contributors including the Eaton Charitable Fund, Glass Foundation, Janirve Foundation, Junior League of Asheville, the Raise the Roof at the Reid Community Campaign and the City of Asheville. Construction of the new center matches priority goals for each funder in that it serves children and their families, and provides a strategic public facility for the Asheville community.


  1. Hazelite says:

    What’s funny is that I asked you what was going in on the corner of Depot and Livingston (through this blog at the same time I asked about the traffic round on Haywood) over a year ago and you said you didn’t know. Hmmm…. must have been a misunderstanding.
    At least now I know it’s not another Fuddruckers or the like. That’s good.

  2. Big Ivy says:

    I’m sure this doesn’t matter to hardly anyone else but I wish the Livingston St. facility had been named for Dr. John Holt. What a fine, practical, hardworking man he was.

  3. Gordon Smith says:


    Sorry for the misunderstanding!

    Big Ivy,

    There was quite a bit of debate over the name selection. It’s my hope that we’ll see a lot of neighborhood leaders recognized and honored within the center.

  4. nathan says:

    Although I know several of his children, I didn’t know Dr. Grant personally outside of meeting him on a few occasions but here’s the song I remember as a kid that they sang on his television broadcast on WLOS and every time I hear it, I think of him. Thanks to the City of Asheville for honoring him in this way.

    The Lord has need of workers, to till His field today,
    So kindly He has led me to walk in wisdom’s way;
    I pray for grace to help me with all my heart to say,
    O blessed Savior, count on me.

    I count on Thee, dear Master, for cleansing in the blood,
    For constant streams of blessing, a never failing flood;
    To ever new fruition, I see Thy mercies bud,
    O blessed Savior, count on me.
    Now gird me for the battle when evil pow’rs oppose,
    And give me faith and courage to conquer o’er Thy foes;
    I pledge Thee my allegiance, my soul no other knows,
    O blessed Savior, count on me.

    I’ll bear another’s burden along a lonely way,
    Or teach that burden bearer with confidence to pray;
    In service ever loyal, at home or far away,
    O blessed Savior, count on me.

    Count on me, count on me, For loving hearted service glad and free;
    Yes, count on me, count on me, O blessed Savior, count on me. Amen.

  5. Ken Miller says:

    This is good news for the neighborhood. I’m in full support.

    I have one question, though. The new community center is not far from the Reid Center. The two centers are just a few blocks apart. Both centers abut Livingston Street.

    Is this Community Center intended to replace the Reid Center? Or was it designed to complement the Reid Center?

  6. Gordon Smith says:


    The Reid Center will be the home base for Green Opportunities and other community non-profits while the Southside Center will be the new community center for cultural arts and activities.

    And it was nice running into at the polls!

  7. Jonathan says:

    I’m glad you have high hopes for the Grant Center: “It symbolizes healthy renewal and a integration of vision across generations.”
    I think that it is going to take a lot more than a symbol to achieve anything that is close to healthy renewal or integration. The east of the river event showed some of the intentionality that it’ll take for this to happen, but I don’t believe it is enough. I think first and foremost we need to support self determination for Southside, (and it is going to take a lot of support to balance out the public and private investment in the “River Arts District” as well as all the boosterism and other brew-ha-ha), otherwise I am concerned we’ll be looking at replacement instead of renewal. Thanks for thinking about how development in and around Southside might lead to true healthy renewal and integration that is by and for the people or Southside rather than just a “look’en good” strategy for progressives that are excited about the “River Arts District.” Please keep your ears really open to try and learn what kind of support folks in Southside want to make their neighborhood the community they want it to be.