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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 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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Asheville Normal and Collegiate Institute

by Ann S. Wright, 2006

The Normal and Collegiate Institute and campus, Asheville, N.C. Asheville Normal and Collegiate Institute was an outgrowth of the Home Industrial School, an elementary school started in 1887 by Louis M. Pease and his wife. The Peases directed the school, and Florence Stephenson was its first principal, holding the post for 30 years. From the beginning, the school emphasized home training and religious instruction for girls and young women in addition to regular academic work. Within a few weeks of opening, it was filled to capacity, with 75 boarding students and 45 day pupils. High school grades were added later. With the improvement of the public school system, the elementary grades were gradually phased out, and the high school department was discontinued in 1930.

In 1892 the campus was expanded and renamed the Asheville Normal and Collegiate Institute, with the goals of providing higher education for young women from the southern Appalachians and of training teachers, particularly for rural schools. Thomas Lawrence was the first principal of the normal school and served in that role until 1907. Pease House opened on the campus in 1908 to serve as a home for girls under the age of 12 "who cannot be trained in homes of their own"; the girls were taught by seniors from the normal school. Pease House operated until 1925.

Edward R. Childs directed the school from 1907 to 1916, when John E. Calfee took over and presided over a period of rapid institutional growth. In 1921 the Asheville Normal and Associated Schools consolidated the Presbyterian missionary schools in the area; it included Asheville Normal, Home School, and Pease House on the central campus in Asheville and the Farm School for boys in Swannanoa. By 1926 the school had evolved from a two-year normal school into a four-year teachers college. In 1931 the name was changed to Asheville Normal and Teachers College.

In 1940 the Presbyterian Board of Missions withdrew its support of the college. The Asheville community attempted unsuccessfully to take on the financial burden of operating the school. Asheville College, as it had been renamed, closed at the end of the term in 1944. The campus was taken over for use by Memorial Mission Hospital, and school records were transferred to the Farm School (now Warren Wilson College).


Cordelia Camp, A Thought at Midnight (1959).

Mary Kestler Clyde, Flashbacks to Dawn: Eye Openers in Preparatory School, Circa 1914-1922 (1983).

Image Credit:

"The Normal and Collegiate Institute and campus, Asheville, N.C.c1910. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. Available from (accessed April 30, 2012).


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my grandmother Virgina Mabel Burris was a graduate of waynesville high school and then sent to Asheville Normal School to live for teachers training sometime in the 1920's. i would love to have any records or information from her time there, any enrollment records still exist?


I was interested in this article for several reasons. I ran across a letter written by my great grandmother Rebecca Wright dated 1900 to her future future daughter in law Jessie Wortman who had graduated from Grove City College and was teaching or studying at Ashville's Normal and Collegiate, In Sept 1900 she married Maurice Write who was teaching at Grove City College. Not only was your contributer Ann S Wright's article interesting, I wonder if we are related ?


I have my mother's diploma, dated 1923, sign by Dr. John E. Calfee. My mother wrote in her photograph album, by a photographic view of the manual arts classroom (the work tables, etc. seen) "My Hobby." She made the frame of walnut for it. Is it something that should be left to the collection (which I have not seen) at Warren Wilson College? She made a very fashionable dressing table for her mother, it of Arts & Crafts design and constructed of quarter-sawn oak. A relative has it, in Charlotte. I could send a photograph


Dear Robert,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia, North Carolina’s online encyclopedia, and for taking time to share your comment.  I have also replied to the email address you included with your post.

It sounds like you may be interested in donating your mother’s album to Warren Wilson College.  Is that correct?  If so, you may wish to contact them.  I’m including the web page for the library’s Special Collections.  It includes contact information:

If there is something else that you need help locating or had a different question, please let me know and I will be glad to try to help. Please feel free to reply to my email or post another comment back here.

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library

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