North Carolina Education - Buncombe County

Year County Established

County Webpage Herein

County Seat Webpage Herein

1791

Buncombe County

Asheville

William Forster, a generous Presbyterian philanthropist, permitted a school known as Union Hill Academy to be built on his property in what was soon to become Asheville some time before 1793. Robert Henry was the first instructor in the log cabin schoolhouse. In 1797, the Reverend George Newton took over the school that would later bear his name. Forster’s son, also named William, gave the building and eight acres of land to the trustees of the academy in 1803. He was motivated to provide local children with a school that would uphold and support the Gospel and offer a classical curriculum.

William Forster III gave an additional 3.25 acres to the trustees in 1809, at which time the log structure was replaced with a brick one and the school’s name was changed to Newton Academy. Newton resigned in 1814 to move to Tennessee. Francis Porter took over the academy in 1817 and lived with his family on the campus for about six years. A larger two-story brick building was constructed in 1858 on the site for the use of the academy.

For the remainder of the nineteenth century, the school’s buildings and land, including the two-acre historic cemetery on the property were owned and maintained by the Newton Academy Trustees. Around 1900, the academy, in decline, discontinued classes. In 1921, the trustees entered into a seventy-five (75) year lease with the City of Asheville and the city built a public school on the site.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

Apparently in 1805, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to establish Newton Academy in Buncombe County - see January 29, 1849 below to find the amended Act that references 1805.
On November 17, 1818, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to establish the Asheville Academy in the town of Asheville in Buncombe County. Seven (7) trustees were named in the Act.
On January 7, 1830, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Vance Circulating Library Society in the town of Asheville in Buncombe County.
On January 10, 1835, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to establish the Sulphur Spring Academy in the town of Sulphur Springs in Buncombe County. Five (5) trustees were named in the Act.
On January 11, 1841, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to the Asheville Female Academy in the town of Asheville in Buncombe County. Nine (9) trustees were named in the Act.
On January 29, 1849, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the 1805 Act that established Newton Academy in Buncombe County. One (1) existing and nine (9) new trustees were named in this Act.
On February 16, 1855, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Holston Conference Female College in the town of Asheville in Buncombe County. Fifteen (15) trustees were named in the Act.
On February 16, 1859, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate Bascom College in the town of Leicester in Buncombe County. Five (5) trustees were named in the Act.
Also on February 16, 1859, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Mechanic's and Farmer's Institute in the town of Asheville in Buncombe County. Forty-four (44) trustees were named in the Act.
On February 25, 1861, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the above Act incorporating Bascom College. Twenty (20) trustees were now authorized and spirituous liquors were prohibited to be sold within two (2) miles of said college.
On December 15, 1873, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate Weaverville College in the new town of Weaverville (was Reems Creek) in Buncombe County. Fifteen (15) trustees were named and the college was authorized $20,000 in assets.

Weaverville College was chartered in 1873 to offer four years of college work. Prior to that time, an academy, operated by the local Sons of Temperance beginning in 1851, stood on the site. Montreville Weaver contributed the land on which the first buildings were situated. Through gifts and purchases the campus grew to fifty-five (55) acres. Initially the college was governed by a local board of trustees independent of any denomination. The school’s first president was Dr. James A. Regan. Only in 1883 was the property deeded to the Methodist Episcopal Church and the school placed under the supervision of the Western North Carolina Conference.

In 1912, the school was renamed Weaver College and the change made from four-year to junior college status. Preparatory classes continued to be offered. The college from the outset was co-educational. Student activities revolved around literary societies and the sports programs. Graduates of Weaver include North Carolina Chief Justice Walter P. Stacy, Congressman Zeb Weaver, and University of North Carolina Professor Hugh T. Lefler.

The Western North Carolina Conference decided in 1933 to merge Weaver College and Rutherford College (of Burke County) to create a single co-educational Methodist junior college on the grounds of the old Brevard Institute. In the fall of 1934, thirty (30) Weaver students and five (5) faculty members moved to Brevard College in Transylvania County. Today Brevard continues to preserve the earlier institutions through the Weaver Room of the library and plans for a Weaver College Bell Tower. In Weaverville three structures remain from the original campus, the 1874 Administration Building, now used as a Masonic Temple, and two dormitories.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

On March 12, 1877, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Orphans' Home of Western North Carolina, at or near the town of Asheville in Buncombe County. Twenty-four (24) trustees were named in the Act.
On March 10, 1879, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act authorizing the qualified voters of Asheville to decide on a special tax being levied in support of graded public schools to be established in the town of Asheville in Buncombe County.
On March 14, 1879, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to appoint ten (10) new trustees for Newton Academy in Buncombe County.
On March 6, 1885, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to establish a Normal School in the town of Asheville in Buncombe County (among two more normal schools established by the same Act).
On March 11, 1885, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize qualified voters in the town of Asheville, Buncombe County to decide whether to levy a special tax to fund a graded school in Asheville.

Under the guidance of Dr. Thomas Lawrence, with the generous donation of land by the Pease family, and with the support of the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions, the Normal and Collegiate Institute was born in 1892. The Normal, as it was later called by locals, had its foundations in the Home Industrial School which opened in 1887, in the Pease home located between Asheville and Biltmore Forest. Pease and Lawrence sought to provide education for young girls and train them to become educators. The first year saw one hundred and ten (110) pupils ranging in age from five (5) to twenty (20).

The school prospered and a normal school was added in 1892 with the purpose of training teachers to work in the rural highlands. It went through several name changes and eventually became a conglomerate of several sister schools, called the Asheville Normal and Associated Schools, including the Normal, Farm School, Home School, and Pease House. Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa is a descendant institution. The school sought to train the whole student, providing practical knowledge in furniture and house construction as well as music and teaching methods. Faculty members were brought to the associated schools from throughout the country who taught topics such as weaving, mathematics, literature and cooking.

By 1918, the school had graduated five hundred and seventy (570) women. The motto of “Service” was the guiding force for many of the school’s graduates. Service for the school meant work with the people of western North Carolina and the Appalachian region to “stimulate them to higher ideals” through faith. The Normal and Collegiate Institute was one of many women’s schools that flourished in western North Carolina in the late nineteenth-century and the early twentieth-century. Not all had the service mission of the Institute since most were typical “finishing” schools.

The Board of Home Missions changed the school’s name to the Asheville Normal and Teachers College in 1931 and the school then offered a Bachelor of Science in Education. The newly-organized college was approved by the American Association of Teachers’ Colleges in 1933. Financial support from the Board of National Missions ended in 1940 and, to fill the void, local citizens banded together to support the school, changing its name to Asheville College. Attempts to keep the school open failed and it closed its doors in 1944. The property and buildings were sold for a hospital and were later torn down to make way for Memorial Mission Hospital.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Caorlina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

On March 4, 1887, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to establish the Asheville Military Academy in the town of Asheville in Buncombe County. Two (2) founders named in the Act, who have already leased the lands and buildings of the existing Asheville Male Academy.
On March 7, 1887, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize qualified voters in the town of Asheville in Buncombe County to decide whether to levy a special tax to pay for public schools in Asheville.
On March 11, 1889, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act increasing the amount of special tax that may be levied to fund public schools in the town of Asheville in Buncombe County.
On March 6, 1891, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to establish a Children's Home in Buncombe County, which is to include the education of indigent children.
On March 7, 1891, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize qualifed voters in the town of Asheville to decide whether to issue up to $25,000 in bonds to build public schools in said town.

Never robust, William Bingham died in 1873 at age thirty-seven. Robert Bingham took over the school, guiding it for the next fifty-four years, through three devastating fires, internal strife regarding administration, and a long-distance move. Robert moved the Bingham School campus to Asheville in 1891, leaving William’s widow to operate an academy that she named The William Bingham School. The Bingham School prospered in Asheville, closing the year after Robert Bingham’s death in 1927.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources


William James Bingham was born in Chapel Hill in 1802, while his father Reverend William Bingham taught briefly at the University of North Carolina. The elder Bingham went on to serve as principal at Hillsborough Academy and later of his own school, Mount Repose. When Reverend Bingham died in 1826, William James finished out the year as principal at Mount Repose and then closed the school in order to take the helm of Hillsborough Academy. He remained there until 1844 when, like his father before, he left to open a school at Oaks, northeast of Chapel Hill.

In an 1844 Hillsborough Recorder advertisement for his new school at Oaks, Bingham stated that “his leading motive is to educate his own sons in the country; and his selection has been made with special reference to this object.” He built a brick school building with a brick-columned piazza near his farmhouse. An entirely private academy, Bingham advertised his venture as “Select Classical and Mathematical School” and later as “W. J. Bingham’s Select School.” Although his school may have been known informally as the Bingham School, that name was not adopted until 1864.

During the American Civil War, the health of the younger William prevented him from serving in the regular army, even though he eventually rose to militia colonel. Robert enlisted in early 1862, leaving William and his father, in declining health, to run the Oaks. William assumed daily operation of the school by 1864, and in December moved the campus to Mebaneville (present-day Mebane), closer to the railroad for easier access to supplies and travel for students. When William incorporated his Bingham School in 1864, it became a “military and classical academy.”

Never robust, William Bingham died in 1873 at age thirty-seven. Robert Bingham took over the school, guiding it for the next fifty-four years, through three devastating fires, internal strife regarding administration, and a long-distance move. Robert moved the Bingham School campus to Asheville in 1891, leaving William’s widow to operate an academy that she named The William Bingham School. The Bingham School prospered in Asheville, closing the year after Robert Bingham’s death in 1927.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

Also see March, 2, 1895 below.

During construction of his lavish home in Asheville, George Vanderbilt (1862-1914) established a community center for his African American workers and for residents of the town. The building, constructed between 1892 and 1893, was designed by Richard Sharp Smith, supervising architect of the Biltmore House. The center, known as the Young Men’s Institute (YMI), held an organizational meeting in February of 1893.

The YMI offered the black community speakers, a gym, bathing facilities, and classes for youths and adults. By 1910, the organization even had its own orchestra. In addition, churches, schools, and civic organizations were permitted to use the venue for special events. Church congregations used the YMI space for their worship services when needed. A variety of businesses and institutions utilized the YMI building over the years. African American professionals, such as Dr. James A. Byron, one of Asheville’s first black physicians, kept offices at the YMI building. The Asheville Public Library operated a branch there from 1926 until 1966.

Mr. Vanderbilt in time separated himself from the YMI and in May 1906 it was incorporated with forty-nine (49) of Asheville’s black leaders as members. Although the organization was not able to raise enough money to purchase the property outright, they garnered $10,000 and secured a mortgage for the remainder.

While the YMI thrived for three decades, the Depression took its toll. In the early 1940s, the YMI ceased to operate and the building fell into disrepair. Re-organization of the YMI took place in March of 1944. Money was raised to restart programs and renovate the building, and it re-opened a year later. In 1946, the South Market Street Branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) purchased the property and carried on the recreational aspects of the YMI.

The neighborhood had deteriorated by the 1970s and in 1977 the building was condemned. The African American community in Asheville rallied to save the structure and was able to get it placed on the National Register of Historic Places in July of 1977. Renovations were completed in 1988 and today the YMI Cultural Center operates the facility, offering cultural arts, economic development opportunities, and community education. There is also an auditorium, a museum, and community meeting space.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

On March 3, 1893, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate Lindley Training School in Buncombe County. Seven (7) incorporators were named in the Act.
On March 6, 1893, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Board of Education of the Buncombe County Missionary Baptist Association. Fifteen (15) trustees were named in the Act.
Also on March 6, 1893, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate Flat Creek Public School near Dula's Spring in Buncombe County. Five (5) incorporators were named in the Act.

Asheville Farm School, the primary fore-runner of Warren Wilson College, was established as a mission school by the Northern Branch of the Presbyterian Church. The site selected was a 420-acre farm in the Swannanoa Valley about ten miles east of Asheville in Buncombe County. By combining farm work with education, the school, which opened on November 30, 1894, aimed to provide new opportunities for young men in the mountains.

The most significant change in the school’s development came in 1942, when the Asheville Farm School combined with the Dorland-Bell School, a Presbyterian institution for young women in Hot Springs. Junior college classes were added and the new school was named for Warren H. Wilson, former Secretary of Rural Church Work for the church’s Board of National Missions. Arthur M. Bannerman served as Warren Wilson College president from 1942 to 1971.

Lower grades gradually were dropped; the last high school class graduated in 1957. In 1966, Warren Wilson became an accredited, four-year, liberal arts college offering the bachelor of arts degree. In 1973, the school’s ties with the Presbyterian’s Board of National Missions were severed. Presently the school receives support from foundations and individual churches and operates under an independent board of trustees. Enrollment is around four hundred and fifty (450) students; all but a few live on campus. True to its origins, the school requires that every student, in addition to meeting their classes, contribute three hours of labor each day to the college in return for room and board.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

On March 2, 1895, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Bingham School in the town of Asheville in Buncombe County.
On March 1, 1897, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to allow graduates of the Asheville Normal and Collegiate Institute for Young Women to teach in the public schools without examination.
On March 6, 1897, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Hominy Valley Institute in Buncombe County. Ten (10) trustees were named in the Act.
On March 8, 1897, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act authorizing the sale of the school house and land associated with School District Number 10-½ in Buncombe County, and for the proceeds of the sale to be used to acquire stock in the Hominy Valley Institute (above).
On January 18, 1899, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the charter of the Bingham School in Asheville, Buncombe County.
On March 6, 1899, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act pertaining to the Asheville public schools in Buncombe County. This Act defined when school trustees and county superintendent of public schools were to meet. Relates to the next item directly below.
Also on March 6, 1899, the North Carolina General Assembly passed and Act to abolish the county board of education, all school committees, and the county supervisor in Buncombe County.
Also on March 6, 1899, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize qualified voters in the town of Asheville to decide whether or not to levy a special tax to pay for public schools in said town.

The community now known as Montreat was founded by Congregationalist minister John C. Collins in 1897 on behalf of his Mountain Retreat Association. The village was established “for the encouragement of Christian work and living through Christian convention, public worship, missionary work, schools, and libraries.” Although the community was originally called by the name of the association, Collins later adopted the truncated version. In 1905, Dr. J. R. Howerton, of the First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, secured an option on Montreat, providing that the Presbyterian Church would adopt the original mission of the Mountain Retreat Association. The Montreat enterprise was adopted by the Southern province of the Presbyterian Church of the United States, and the Mountain Retreat Association was purchased by the church in 1907.

In 1913 Dr. Robert C. Anderson, Association president, proposed that the grounds and buildings in Montreat be used for a school during the academic year. Two years later the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church decreed that “the property of the Mountain Retreat Association be used for a Normal School.” The Montreat Normal School, with Anderson also as its president, opened in 1916 as a combination four-year preparatory school and two-year college for women.

In 1934, the college department of the school was renamed Montreat College. The college expanded its programs and began offering a four-year degree program in 1945. In 1959, the institution was restructured as a coeducational junior college and its name was changed to Montreat-Anderson College. The school was able to return to the original mission of its founder, Dr. Anderson, in 1986 when it again became a four-year college. The name was changed back to Montreat College in 1995 to merge “the original vision and identity.” Montreat College now offers a graduate program and operates satellite campuses in Charlotte and Asheville. William Henry Belk and members of the Belk family have been among the principal benefactors. Montreat was long a gated community; the massive gate today is a landmark and symbol for the college and the Presbyterian conference center.

The University of North Carolina at Asheville was established in 1927 as Buncombe County Junior College, under the auspices of the Buncombe County Board of Education. The college operated separately as a free public institution until 1930, when financial difficulties compelled administrators to begin charging tuition. The name of the school was changed to Biltmore Junior College. In 1934, the Board of Education relinquished its authority to a board of trustees, who obtained a charter under the name of Biltmore College. Control was passed again in 1936, this time to the Asheville City School Board. The institution then became Asheville-Biltmore College, although the name was not widely used for several years.

The North Carolina General Assembly approved state support for the college in 1955, and when the same body provided for the community college system in 1957, Asheville-Biltmore College was the first institution to qualify as a state supported community college. By 1958, the college, with the help of community leaders, launched a development campaign that eventually gave the institution the financial backing to purchase a 157-acre tract of land on the north side of town and to construct seven (7) buildings there. The campus officially moved to the site in 1961. At the recommendation of the Governor’s Commission on Education Beyond High School, Asheville-Biltmore College became a four-year state college on July 1, 1963. Exactly six (6) years later, the college became a part of the Consolidated University of North Carolina system, adopting its current name, the University of North Carolina at Asheville. The campus, still in its scenic North Asheville location, now encompasses two hundred and sixty-five (265) acres.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

Black Mountain College was established in 1933 by a group of Rollins College faculty, disgruntled over the firing of Professor John Andrews Rice by the college president. Led by Josef Albers, the Black Mountain College faculty included several scholars forced to leave Europe during the 1930s. The new school was incorporated on August 19, 1933, and, according to the first catalog, was founded “in order to provide a place where free use might be made of tested and proved methods of education and new methods tried in a purely experimental spirit. . .”

The institution was unconventional by almost every standard. As an experimental college that served as an alternative to traditional education, it was one of the first schools in the nation to create an educational plan embodying the principles of progressive education. There was even an attempt to implement an organization plan giving the faculty full legal control of the school. One of the major tenets of the school’s plan was to elevate the fine arts to full curricular status.

Owing partly to the imbalance between the arts and sciences, Black Mountain College was never accredited. Still many of its graduates enjoyed successful careers in the fine arts, education, and letters. Among the artists who were either students or faculty were: in architecture, Buckminster Fuller and Walter Gropius; in art, Josef Albers, Willem DeKooning, Robert Motherwell, and Robert Rauschenberg; in dance, Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor; in music, John Cage; in film, Arthur Penn; and in literature, Eric Bentley, Robert Creeley, Paul Goodman, Alfred Kazin, Charles Olson, Joel Oppenheimer, and Jonathan Williams.

In 1941, the school moved from the Blue Ridge Assembly grounds to a large internationalist-style building designed by faculty member W. Lawrence Kocher. Following World War II, Black Mountain College fell into a period of decline and it ceased operation in 1956. The school received renewed attention with the publication of Martin Duberman’s study in 1972.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

 
 
 


© 2017 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved