AshevilleNews Stories

Oakley, Sayles Village and the Bleachery: A Working Community

PSABC RS

Preservation Society Revisits Urban Village of Days Gone By

The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County (PSABC) invites everyone to travel back to Oakley’s past with the story of Sayles Village and Bleachery and the surrounding neighborhood development. The saga starts in the 1920s when Frank Sayles built a textile bleachery and a company town for the people who worked there. The corridor east of downtown Asheville was the logical next step in City growth. It was a bustling, promising period –- researched and now shared by Dale Wayne Slusser.

A 20-year resident of Oakley, Dale Slusser has long studied the Bleachery era and how Sayles Village offered workers both a livelihood and neighborhood. Besides the factory, there were homes and churches, schools and stores, sidewalks and parks, all part of this working community. Slusser has developed a map of storied sites, which he’ll distribute after the talk. Attendees can then take a self-driving tour with special entry to one of the first churches built in Oakley, a remnant of the neighborhood’s mercantile past and a private residence in the arts and crafts mode.

Dale Slusser is likely familiar to many PSABC members. A board member active in Asheville preservation, he’s also co-chair of the Endangered Properties Committee, Architectural Designer with Helps Ministries, and a published author currently writing a book about forgotten homes along the Swannanoa. Dale’s take on our area’s first urban village should prove topical.

“Sayles Village and Bleachery is now a Walmart shopping complex. Things change…or do they?” says Kieta Osteen-Cochrane, Education Committee Chair. “We’ll find out, and Oakley will never look quite the same.”

This history talk is scheduled Saturday, July 23rd, from 1-3 pm at the Oakley Community Center, 749 Fairview Road (park and enter from the lower parking lot on Liberty Street beside the Center). While there is no fee, a suggested $10 donation helps support local preservation. Generous sponsors include B. B. Barns Garden Center and Landscape Supply and the Oakley Community Center.

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