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Grove, Edwin Wiley

27 Dec. 1850–27 Jan. 1927

Photograph of Edwin Wiley Grove. Image from Wikimedia Commons.Edwin Wiley Grove, proprietary drug manufacturer and Asheville developer, was born in Whiteville, Hardeman County, Tenn., the son of James Henry and Mary Jane Harris Grove. Both of his parents were natives of Virginia; as a Confederate soldier, his father served with General Nathan B. Forrest. After attending local schools, young Grove went to Memphis, just two counties west, to study pharmacy. In 1880 he established his own pharmacy in Paris, Tenn., where he had worked earlier as a clerk in a drugstore. At Paris he developed the formula for two products that were to make him a fortune. Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic was sold widely, particularly in the South where quinine had long been used as an antimalarial drug. Grove's formula improved the unpleasant taste of the quinine. He also developed a product that he marketed as Grove's Bromo-Quinine tablets. Shortly, it was reported, his products were bringing him a million dollars a year. Grove expanded his manufacturing facilities from those originally established at Paris to St. Louis, Mo., and to England, Australia, Brazil, and Argentina. He also planned an extensive and pioneer advertising program.

Beginning in 1897 when he built a summer home there, Grove spent a great deal of time in Asheville, N.C., as he found the climate good for his health. In 1905 he took the first step of what became a large scale development of hotel, business, and residential property on the northern edge of the town. He began with the development of Grove Park, a residential area, and in 1912–13 constructed Grove Park Inn as a resort hotel on the west slope of Sunset Mountain. Built of massive stones, with a frontage of almost 500 feet, and rising in a series of terraces, it has long been regarded as one of the finest resort hotels in the world. Grove next purchased the old Battery Park Hotel, razed it, cut down the hill on which it had stood, and erected a new Battery Park Hotel. Opposite the entrance to the new hotel he constructed a mall of shops topped by offices. Earth from the hill was used to fill a large ravine, which formed a new commercial area for the growing city. East of Asheville he developed Grovemont residential area. In and around Asheville he also established and developed other areas and businesses. His interests were not centered in just this site, however, for he owned extensive property in St. Louis, Mo., St. Petersburg, Fla., Atlanta, Ga., and elsewhere.

Grove was generous and as nearly as possible kept his benefactions secret. Contributing to charitable, educational, and religious causes, he built and endowed a high school in Paris, Tenn., and endowed a number of Presbyterian churches, of which denomination he was an active member. His first wife, whom he married in 1875, was Mary Louisa Moore of Milan, Tenn. They were the parents of two daughters, Irma and Evelyn. The latter married Fred Loring Seely who was involved in the building of the Grove Park Inn. After the death of his wife, in 1883, Grove was married in 1886 to Alice Gertrude Matthewson of Murray, Ky. Their children were Hallett Hardin, Edwin Wiley, and Helen. Grove died in Asheville and after funeral services in the city's First Presbyterian Church, of which he was a member, he was buried in the family cemetery near his place of birth.

References:

Asheville Citizen, 28, 29 Jan. 1927, 8 May 1949.

National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, vol. 21 (1931).

Additional Resources:

Bailey, Heather L. "Edwin Wiley Grove (1850-1927)." The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture version 2.0.  January 4, 2010. http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entry.php?rec=1606 (accessed July 15, 2013).

"Grove Park Inn." National Registry of Historic Places Travel Itinerary. National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/asheville/gro.htm (accessed July 15, 2013).

Neufeld, Rob. "E. W. Grove & Grove Arcade." Grove Arcade. 2006. http://www.grovearcade.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/GA_BriefHistory.pdf (accessed July 15, 2013).

Waters, T. Wayne. "Asheville's Grove Park Inn celebrates centennial with special events."  Knoxville News Sentinel. January 12, 2013. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2013/jan/12/ashevilles-grove-park-inn-celebrates-centennial/ (accessed July 15, 2013).

Image Credits:

"File:Edwin Wiley Grove.jpg." Photograph. Wikimedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edwin_Wiley_Grove.jpg (accessed July 15, 2013).

Origin - location: 

Comments

Grove died at the Battery Park Hotel in Asheville, N.C. on January 27, 1927. He had suffered from prolonged bouts of hiccups, sometimes lasting for weeks at a time. One cause of death is listed as such on his death certificate. He is noted as being a capitalist on the same document. His Grove Arcade project stopped.
Prior to his death Grove was being sued by his son-in-law Fred Loring Seely. Mr.Seely believed he had been promised by Grove that he (Seely) would be given the continued management and probable ownership of the Grove Park Inn. Grove and Seely fell out over two things: Seely would not charge famous guests (Firestone, Edison, et.al.) for their visits at the Grove Park Inn and Grove was jealous over his daughter Evelyn. Seely continued the lawsuit after Grove died. The trial was held in St. Louis. In 1928 the lawsuit was dismissed and Seely was forced to admit defeat and loss of the Grove Park Inn. Seely's wife (Grove's daughter) Evelyn did inherit the Battery Park Hotel. The heavily mortgaged hotel was lost later in a 1955 lawsuit after Mrs. Seely died in 1953.
Grove left the Grove Park Inn in a trust that would provide income to Evelyn Grove Seely, Gertrude Grove, and Eddie Grove. However, Gertrude Grove claimed her widows rights and sued to break the trust.
She won and the Grove Park Inn had to be sold to pay her off. Her winnings were enjoyed only for a short while as she died in 1928. Her share of the fortune went to Eddie Seely. His fortune did not benefit him for long either. He died in 1934. Their estate fortune remained for about 70 years in a generation skipping trust until the last grandchild of Grove died.
The Grove Park Inn was closed during the Great Depression. It was used to intern Axis Powers high ranking embassy staff during WWII. These "prisoners" were occasionally used in POW exchanges during the war.
The Grove Park Inn has survived and is flourishing today under new ownership. (OMNI purchased the property in 2013...just prior to the centennial celebration of the GPI.) The 3 day celebration include speeches and fireworks and performances by David Holt and B.B. King. Grove and Seely grandchildren were treated to complimentary rooms and food feasts. A side event include a tour of the grounds of Seely's former home: the 20,000 square foot castle known as Overlook on Sunset Mountain.

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Copyright notice

This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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