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



Marker Text:

     Under the guidance of Dr. Thomas Lawrence, with the generous donation of land by the Pease family, and with the support of the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions, the Normal and Collegiate Institute was born in 1892. The Normal, as it was later called by locals, had its foundations in the Home Industrial School which opened in 1887, in the Pease home located between Asheville and Biltmore Forest. Pease and Lawrence sought to provide education for young girls and train them to become educators. The first year saw 110 pupils ranging in age from five to twenty.

     The school prospered and a normal school was added in 1892 with the purpose of training teachers to work in the rural highlands. It went through several name changes and eventually became a conglomerate of several sister schools, called the Asheville Normal and Associated Schools, including the Normal, Farm School, Home School, and Pease House. Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa is a descendant institution. The school sought to train the whole student, providing practical knowledge in furniture and house construction as well as music and teaching methods. Faculty members were brought to the associated schools from throughout the country who taught topics such as weaving, mathematics, literature and cooking.

     By 1918 the school had graduated 570 women. The motto of “Service” was the guiding force for many of the school’s graduates. Service for the school meant work with the people of western North Carolina and the Appalachian region to “stimulate them to higher ideals” through faith. The Normal and Collegiate Institute was one of many women’s schools that flourished in western North Carolina in the late nineteenth-century and the early twentieth-century. Not all had the service mission of the Institute since most were typical “finishing” schools.

     The Board of Home Missions changed the school’s name to the Asheville Normal and Teachers College in 1931 and the school then offered a Bachelor of Science in Education. The newly organized college was approved by the American Association of Teachers’ Colleges in 1933. Financial support from the Board of National Missions ended in 1940 and, to fill the void, local citizens banded together to support the school, changing its name to Asheville College. Attempts to keep the school open failed and it closed its doors in 1944. The property and buildings were sold for a hospital and were later torn down to make way for Memorial Mission Hospital.

Cordelia Camp, A Thought at Midnight: The Story of the Asheville Normal (1968)
Liz Chandler, “Teachers’ School Left Legacy of Love” Charlotte Observer, October 24, 1993
John Preston Arthur, History of Western North Carolina (1914) online edition:
Asheville Normal and Teacher’s College Archives (at Warren-Wilson):
“The Normal and Collegiate Institute, Asheville, North Carolina”:
Location: County:

Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

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