north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

      The Yancey Collegiate Institute opened its doors on September 9, 1901. The idea for a Baptist Academy in Yancey County originated at a meeting of the Baptist Association at Crabtree Church in 1899. In that period, most secondary education could only be received through private academies because of a lack of public high schools in the state. Local citizens felt that their children deserved a proper education and endorsed funding by the Baptist Church.

      Soon after the Crabtree Church meeting, the elders chose a two-acre site offered by S. M. Bennett. The deed was signed on March 2, 1900, and construction of the building began shortly thereafter. The Baptist State Mission Board and the Baptist Home Mission Board, along with private donors, provided the necessary funds to erect several brick buildings on the campus.

      By September 1901, the original building had been finished and soon thereafter, a male dormitory was complete. The school officially was incorporated by act of the General Assembly in 1903. In 1905, builders completed a female dormitory, named the Watson building after leading private donor E. F. Watson. The school offered a curriculum consisting of mathematics, reading, writing, and literature courses. Until 1917, the school offered only traditional high school courses. That year, the institute began offering a range of college courses in history, Biblical studies, and classical languages. Many of the students who graduated from Yancey Collegiate Institute later attended Wake Forest College or Mars Hill College.

      Student activities at Yancey Collegiate Institute included literary societies and athletics. The school provided venues for basketball, baseball, and tennis for both boys and girls. Male students could take part in boxing and wrestling.

      Yancey Collegiate Institute ceased to operate as a private institution in 1926, and became a public high school. In 1993, the institute, which had become Burnsville Elementary School, closed its doors. Presently, the site is home to the Blue Ridge Reading Team, a non-profit literary organization for several mountain counties. In 2003 the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

James Hutchins, A Sketch of the Yancey Collegiate Institute (1951)Lloyd R. Bailey, The Heritage of the Toe River Valley (1994)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

Yancey Collegiate Institute, c. 1903

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources