HeardTell: The North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library

Where Research is a Delight!

June 1908

 

ivy gap color.jpg

IVY GAP YMCA.jpg

Here are two commonly found early postcard views of Ivy Gap from Craggy.  Both versions of the postcards were published by the Hackney & Moale Company, one of the early publishers of books and postcards in Asheville. The cyanotype version beneath is one I’d never seen; the title printed in red across the top intrigued me. With just a click it could be added to the-ever-growing North Carolina Collection postcard collection!

In online searches I found different postcards—with earlier and later dates—announcing Y.M.C.A. conferences. They were published by Hackney & Moale Company as well, using different images from their stock of local views:  Rapids on the French Broad, the ubiquitous “above the clouds”, a view of Pack Square with trolley tracks, and others. The full color cards and the cyanotype cards were printed in Germany, but I assume the red type was added here in Asheville when the order for the cards was received from the Y.M.C.A. conference staff.

Rapids.jpg

rapids ymca.jpg

Cyanotype Version of Rapids on the French Broad (above)

Courtesy of Patrick Enfinger

 http://www.mmpe.net/blueridge/index.html

My first guess was the Y.M.C.A. conference was being held in Asheville, so I located an image of the Y.M.C.A. Building that stood at 25 Haywood Street from 1902 to 1921. I thought a few photographs and articles chronicling the events might be found in the Asheville Citizen. Perhaps the attendees stayed at the old Battery Park Hotel; the Grove Park Inn was not yet built on Sunset Mountain. And perhaps conference activities might have been held at 25 Haywood Street.

YMCA.jpg

A search on newspapers.com (available for your research use in the North Carolina Room) yielded only a couple of articles and no photographs documenting the conference. To my surprise I discovered that the 1908 Southern Student Conference Y.M.C.A. was held in Montreat, NC.

Sleuthing through a variety of sources I discovered that the conference had been held in Western North Carolina since 1896. It was held at Bingham School (1896-1901) and The Asheville School for Boys (1902, 1903, and 1905). In the summer of 1904 the conference was held at Haywood White Sulphur Springs Hotel in Waynesville.

In 1906 and 1907 the conference was held at “Farm School, N.C.” according to an article encouraging students to attend the conference in the April 1, 1908 issue of The Trinity College Chronicle (now Duke University, Durham, NC). The Farm School later became Warren Wilson College.

Farm School.jpg

The railway station in Black Mountain (and Asheville) must have been very busy in 1908 as more than 300 young men representing 90 colleges from 12 states—VA, NC, SC, TN, KY, GA, AL, MS, FL, TX, AR, OK—made their way off the trains and up the road to the Montreat Assembly. The Richmond Times Dispatch of 6/21/1908 reported that 38 delegates came from Virginia colleges alone.

BM station.jpg

The Hotel Alba had just been completed in 1906 and provided lodging for some of the participants and the older speakers from around the nation. According to the Trinity Chronicle there were “two commodious hotels” in Montreat. Many young college men lived in numerous tents pitched across the eastern bank of Flat Creek.

hotel alba postcard.jpg

A tent large enough to hold 1,000 was set up on the grounds for the large group meetings held every morning and evening. According to the Asheville Semi-Weekly Citizen of 6/16/1908 the young men spent the first morning “arranging college pennants and college colors” in the chapel.

Bugle call at 6 a.m. every morning summoned everyone to breakfast in the Alba Hotel. Breakfast was “frequently interrupted by college yells and songs given with an enthusiasm peculiar to the college man.” After breakfast, there were mission and Bible study classes; in the evenings, delegation meetings were held.

Afternoons were dedicated to college singing, social activities, recreation, and athletics. In Hopkins’ The History of the Y.M.C.A. in North America (1951) he wrote that “…physical education {was} a means to separate young men from temptations to vice… ” After all,  William Morgan an instructor at a YMCA thought basketball was too strenuous for business men. So he combined elements of basketball, tennis, and handball in a game he called “mintonette”—in 1896 it became known as volleyball. And James Naismith—the father of modern basketball—was a YMCA instructor as well.

Tennis, basketball, baseball, track “work”, and swimming were just some of the activities enjoyed by the young men. Of special interest was the option of mountain climbing. On the 16th of June, “a party of 30 climbed to the summit of Lookout Point in heavy rain according to the Asheville Citizen. If you continue reading  you’ll see that this was not an uncommon occurrence for the conference attendees!

rapids ymca back.jpg

Reverse of Cyanotype Version of Rapids on the French Broad (above)

Courtesy of Patrick Enfinger

 http://www.mmpe.net/blueridge/index.html

In the June 24, 1908 edition of the Asheville Citizen a headline read YMCA Students Climbed Mount Mitchell; Drive Over Biltmore. 120 young men (1/3 of the conference attendees) had looked forward to visiting the highest peak east of the Rockies. The young men “braved the hardships and the fatigue of the long climb.” They “made beds of balsam brushes, covered with blankets on the rocks, with the clear heavens as the only covering.” Later on, rainy winds of “icy coldness” resulted in “harrowing tales of a sleepless night among the clouds on Mount Mitchell.” The next morning only one brave soul walked all 16 miles back to Montreat, “up and down 15 peaks” in three hours and forty minutes!

men under the rocks.jpg

Y.M.C.A. Students from all over the south.

Courtesy of Special Collections Research Center at NCSU Libraries

The next day a party of young men “motored” to the Biltmore Estate which at that time was still a private home. According the writer in the Asheville Citizen, “The un-American appearance of the entire place called forth many remarks of surprise.”

Tuck Biltmore 1907.jpg

Promised Gift to the NC Collection

 

The Y.M.C.A. conference was held in Montreat from 1908 through 1911. Dr. Willis Duke Weatherford—the director of conference for several years prior to 1906—had been looking for a permanent home for the conference. He offered to purchase the Montreal property, but was turned down. He wound up purchasing a large tract of land in Black Mountain and named it Blue Ridge Assembly. From 1912 on, the annual conference would be held in the newly built Robert E. Lee Hall at Blue Ridge Assembly. For additional information about later Y.M.C.A. conferences check out https://ymcablueridgeassembly.wordpress.com

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Post by Terry Taylor Friends of the North Carolina Room Board Member

 

Related posts:   Greetings from Asheville!

A Very Popular View

 

 

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