The mission of the Guastavino Alliance is to tell the fascinating story of the life of the Guastavinos, father and son, and to maximize public interest in the history and preservation of their over 1,000 unique works of structural tile, vaulting and domes by creating an alliance of over 600 sites that may still be seen in 30 states and six countries. The Alliance connects sites with each other through programs, projects, exhibitions, lectures, digital storytelling, and social media.
The goal of the Alliance is to enable all sites to work together to be more effective in preservation, research, and education.
Board of Directors
David Madden, Co-Chair
David Madden is co-chair of Rafael Guastavino Alliance. He is the author of 63 books, including 13 novels, 5 books of stories, plays, literary studies, and Civil War history. For the full story, go to: davidmadden.net. In 2012, With Mike Murphy, former director of Christmount Assembly, where Guastavino’s estate was located, Madden began an international campaign to focus more attention on the lives and works of Guastavino and his son. A native of Knoxville now living in Black Mountain, North Carolina, Madden attended the University of Tennessee, San Francisco State University, and Yale School of Drama; from 1958, he taught literature and creative writing at Appalachian State, Centre College, University of Louisville, Kenyon College, Ohio University, and, for 43 years at Louisiana State University.
Suzanne Fisher, Co-Chair
Suzanne Fisher’s heart came to the Asheville area in 2010 when she and her husband purchased a lot outside of Black Mountain; the rest of her arrived in 2013 when their home was completed. Since then she has been a member of the Board of Directors of their community, a regular volunteer at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial and with the Asheville Buncombe County Preservation Society, and is also on the Board of the local chapter of the League of Women Voters. Her entire career was at the National Institutes of Health outside of Washington, D.C. where she had a variety of research and managerial positions. There she lived in the town where F.Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were buried twice and she was an active volunteer and Board member of Peerless Rockville Historic Preservation, Ltd. She is a member of the Cosmos Club which occupies a Carrere and Hastings mansion near Dupont Circle; unfortunately Guastavino was not a part of that structure. She and her husband enjoy traveling both abroad and in the U.S., especially to be with their son, daughter-in-law and three amazing grandchildren.
Tom Patteson, Secretary & Treasurer
Tom Patteson is the secretary and treasurer of the Guastavino Alliance. He was born in Washington D.C. in 1958 and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1968 a few months after King's assassination. He earned a bachelors in philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a masters in divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary, and a masters in architecture from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He is a licensed architect in the state of North Carolina and the happily married father of a sixteen year old daughter who is the proud owner of a five month old, very curious, jet black labrador/shepherd puppy.
Anne Chesky Smith
Anne served as Executive Director of the Swannanoa Valley Museum in Black Mountain, NC, for eight years during which time the museum was the first institution in the South to host the Guastavino exhibit, Palaces for the People. Anne holds MA degrees in Appalachian Studies and Cultural Anthropology and currently serves as the Executive Director for the Western North Carolina Historical Association. She lives with her husband and daughter in Asheville.
Born and raised in the DC metro area, Anastasia spent her formative years volunteering at Gunston Hall, the home of George Mason. Deeply inspired by the power of history, narrative, and place, she earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in English. Anastasia has taught English courses as an adjunct professor and worked for several years on a bilingual literary journal. For the last 15 years, she's led a marketing team at a health care research firm. As a member of the board of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial since 2017, she has worked cooperatively with celebrated historians, authors, professors, and other professionals to raise awareness of the life and works of Asheville's native son. Anastasia, her husband, and their two young children currently reside in the North Asheville community.
Dr. Michael M. Dempsey is Dean and Director of Lenoir-Rhyne University's Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville, which is located in the Montford Historic District. Dempsey previously worked at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (A-B Tech), where he served in numerous capacities, most recently as director of educational partnerships. While at A-B Tech, Dempsey aided in the creation and growth of three innovative high schools (Buncombe County Early College, Madison Early College High School, and the Martin L. Nesbitt Jr. Discovery Academy). He also taught college world history for a number of years, with particular emphasis on ancient Rome and ancient/medieval China and Japan. Dr. Dempsey holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the College of Charleston, a master's degree in history from the University of Charleston/The Citadel, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Western Carolina University. He and his wife Jane Ann are the proud parents of Harlan and Emma Rose.
A native of Rome, Georgia, Rena Henderson enjoys the Western North Carolina Mountains where she vacationed with her family Bill, Will and Maryanne for many years. After building and managing their vacation rental home Sugarhaus for years, Rena and Bill decided to make Black Mountain their home. A former teacher, Rena enjoys connecting new folks to the area she loves. Discovering and documenting Guastavino tile work at Berry College in Rome spurred her obsession with Guastavino and the far-reaching impact of the Company's many works.
Rachel is the Interim Director and Curator at Oak Hill & The Martha Berry Museum, which is hosting the Guastavino exhibit in 2021.
Rob was born in Canada (Goose Bay AFB) and lived in New Mexico, Alaska, and California, before ending up in Texas where his dad retired from the Air Force. Having survived dust storms, tumbleweeds, and tornados, Rob finally ventured forth from the Lone Star State and found a new land called North Carolina where the trees were tall, the mountain air was cool, and the people were kind (unless you cut them off in traffic). Rob is the Executive Director of Christmount Christian Assembly, a year-round camp & conference center and the location of many of the Guastavino ruins including the Spanish Castle, the Wine Cellar, and the Chimney & Kiln where Rafael formed and fired many, many bricks.
John Ochsendorf is a structural engineer with multi-disciplinary research interests including the history of construction, masonry mechanics, and sustainable design. Trained in structural mechanics at Cornell, Princeton, and the University of Cambridge, he conducts research on the structural safety of historic monuments and the design of more sustainable infrastructure. An expert on the mechanics and behavior of masonry structures, Ochsendorf collaborates with art historians, architects, and engineers on the study and structural assessment of historic monuments around the world. His group's work on equilibrium methods has been extended to include early stage structural design tools for architects and engineers. Ochsendorf is the author of "Guastavino Vaulting: The Art of Structural Tile" (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010) and several dozen journal papers in structural mechanics. He has been awarded a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome and a MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Jennifer Cathey, NC Department of Cultural Resources
Bud Hansbury, Basilica of Saint Lawrence
Leslie Klingner, Biltmore Estate
I enthusiastically joined the Guastavino Alliance in 2018. An Asheville native, I was born in Biltmore Hospital in 1943, and have deep roots and 8 generations in western North Carolina. As a 20 year college administrator in Cocoa, Florida, I was Executive Director for customized business contract training for credit and CEU’s (continuing education units); courses for contractors, nurses, and so on. I supervised other departments including the Literacy Center, International Student Intensive English Program (Designated School official issuing I-20 Visas), Small Business Development Center, created and provided the first Before and After School programs for the School Board and created internships and courses for the International Fund for Ireland for visiting students from Belfast and Dublin (a global effort to reduce the conflict in the future through conflict skills and interaction while providing job certifications). In addition to writing grants to fund a Women’s Center and for federal JOBS workforce training centers in the housing authority throughout the county, I served on the State five year education needs assessment and planning teams in Tallahassee and on other local and state boards: the Cocoa Chamber of Commerce, Space Coast Economic Development Commission (ad hoc), Cocoa Rotary, Crosswinds Youth Services, Wuesthoff Hospital Home Care Advisory Board, Brevard Workforce Advisory Board and The Florida Solar Energy Center “Clean Cities Coalition”. Locally in Asheville, after retirement back to the mountains in 2009, I served on the board of the Preservation Society 6 years to save historic sites and as Education Director providing monthly programs. I also served on The Charlotte Street Business Association to improve that area. I am currently with the WNC Historical Society and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Committee Boards. I have a son and two daughters in Florida and Tennessee respectively it has been my privilege to raise and to know. I love research, history, reading, music and animals, especially horses, dogs and birds. Also, gardening, hiking, free diving, dancing and deep sea fishing to the degree I can still do them!