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



Marker Text:

     Robert L. Abernathy founded a coeducational private school, Owl Hollow Schoolhouse, in Burke County in 1853. Reverend Abernathy established the tradition that “None Shall Ever Be Turned Away for Want of Means.” As many as 4,000 students attended the college under Abernathy’s presidency and 1,500 of those did not have to pay tuition. John Rutherford provided the 600 acres of land on which the school was built. His name was given to the school in 1858, when it was chartered as Rutherford Academy. In 1861, the year it was given the power to grant degrees, the school was renamed Rutherford Seminary and in 1870 the institution became Rutherford College. The site of the school was incorporated as the village of Excelsior in 1872, but in 1881 the village became the town of Rutherford College.

     In 1900, the Western North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South acquired the college. In 1932, Rutherford College merged with Weaver College. The combined school moved to Brevard and was renamed Brevard College. With the school gone, the town of Rutherford College’s charter was repealed in 1933. However, in June 1977, the town of Rutherford College was re-incorporated.

Edward William Phifer Jr., Burke: The History of a North Carolina County, 1777-1920, with a Glimpse Beyond (1982)
William S. Powell, Higher Education in North Carolina (1964)
William S. Powell, North Carolina Gazetteer (1968)
Location: County:

Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

R. L. Abernethy

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