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



Marker Text:

     A landmark in western North Carolina, Calvary Episcopal Church has held services in Fletcher for over 150 years. In 1857, the Calvary Episcopal congregation was organized at the house of Daniel Blake, who also purchased land for the church and arranged funding for its construction. Edward Jones, from Charleston, designed the church in the Gothic Revival style of architecture, and Asheville resident Ephraim Clayton completed construction in 1859. After a fire destroyed much of the church in 1934, it was rebuilt in 1937, again in Gothic Revival style and incorporating a tower from the original church.

     Many prominent members of the Asheville and Fletcher communities are buried in the church cemetery, which has remained in use since the later half of the nineteenth century. One of the more illustrious patrons was Edgar W. “Bill” Nye, a nineteenth century author and journalist. Nye was renowned for his depictions of life in the western United States as well as for his collections of wit and satire. Born in 1850, Nye grew up in Wisconsin and began his career as a journalist in local papers. In 1876, he moved further west to Laramie, Wisconsin, where he wrote humorous articles and in 1881 published his own newspaper, the Laramie Boomerang.

     Due to frequent bouts of meningitis, Nye moved to the Asheville area in 1891 to ease his worsening health. Receiving a grand reception from the citizens of Asheville, Nye soon found himself on a lecture circuit with local hero Zebulon Vance. He died as a result of meningitis complications at his home in Arden on February 22, 1896. In addition to the Nye gravesite, there are public memorials to prominent southern figures including Jefferson Davis and Francis Scott Key. The memorials, largely the work of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, are known collectively as the “Westminster Abbey of the South.”

Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to Historic Architecture in Western North Carolina (1999)
Catherine W. Bishir and others, Architects and Builders in North Carolina: A History of the Practice of Building (1990)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, IV, 382-283—sketch of Edgar W. Nye by James Meehan
Calvary Episcopal Church website:
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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