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



Marker Text:

     Asheville Farm School, the primary forerunner of Warren Wilson College, was established as a mission school by the Northern Branch of the Presbyterian Church. The site selected was a 420-acre farm in the Swannanoa Valley about ten miles east of Asheville. By combining farm work with education, the school, which opened on November 30, 1894, aimed to provide new opportunities for young men in the mountains.

     The most significant change in the school’s development came in 1942, when the Asheville Farm School combined with the Dorland-Bell School, a Presbyterian institution for young women in Hot Springs. Junior college classes were added and the new school was named for Warren H. Wilson, former Secretary of Rural Church Work for the church’s Board of National Missions. Arthur M. Bannerman served as Warren Wilson College president from 1942 to 1971.

     Lower grades gradually were dropped; the last high school class graduated in 1957. In 1966 Warren Wilson became an accredited, four-year, liberal arts college offering the bachelor of arts degree. In 1973 the school’s ties with the Presbyterian’s Board of National Missions were severed. Presently the school receives support from foundations and individual churches and operates under an independent board of trustees. Enrollment is around 450 students; all but a few live on campus. True to its origins, the school requires that every student, in addition to meeting his classes, contribute three hours of labor each day to the college in return for room and board.

Henry W. Jensen, A History of Warren Wilson College (1974)
Doug Swaim, Cabins and Castles: The History and Architecture of Buncombe County, North Carolina (1981)
Chronicle of Higher Education, September 4, 1985
Warren Wilson College website:
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Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

Warren Wilson College

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