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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.
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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.
Robert Campbell Anderson, The Story of Montreat From its Beginning, 1897-1947 (1949)
Calvin Grier Davis, Montreat: A Retreat for Renewal, 1947-1972 (1986)
Elizabeth Maxwell, A Flowing Stream: An Informal History of Montreat (1997)
College website: http://www.montreat.edu/about/history.asp