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



Marker Text:

     William Forster, a generous Presbyterian philanthropist, permitted a school known as Union Hill Academy to be built on his property in what was soon to become Asheville some time before 1793. Robert Henry was the first instructor in the log cabin schoolhouse. In 1797 the Reverend George Newton took over the school that would later bear his name. Forster’s son, also named William, gave the building and eight acres of land to the trustees of the academy in 1803. He was motivated to provide local children with a school that would uphold and support the Gospel and offer a classical curriculum.

     William Forster III gave an additional 3.25 acres to the trustees in 1809, at which time the log structure was replaced with a brick one and the school’s name was changed to Newton Academy. Newton resigned in 1814 to move to Tennessee. Francis Porter took over the academy in 1817 and lived with his family on the campus for about six years. A larger two-story brick building was constructed in 1858 on the site for the use of the academy.

     For the remainder of the nineteenth century, the school’s buildings and land, including the two-acre historic cemetery on the property were owned and maintained by the Newton Academy Trustees. Around 1900 the academy, in decline, discontinued classes. In 1921 the trustees entered into a seventy-five year lease with the City of Asheville and the city built a public school on the site.

Douglas Swaim, ed., Cabins & Castles: The History and Architecture of Buncombe County, North Carolina (1981)
F. A. Sondley, History of Buncombe County North Carolina (1977)
Doris C. Ward, ed., Heritage of Old Buncombe County (1981)
Newton Academy Cemetery Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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