America's Lost Colleges
Brevard Institute catalogs are available on Internet Archive. Both the Brevard News and Asheville Citizen-Times carried news from the school. “Brevard College Has Undergone Transitions” by the Transylvania County Library has information about the campus.
Its purpose was “to provide a thorough and practical education at low cost to those of limited means.” Its programs encompassed grades one through twelve. In addition, it offered vocational, domestic, commercial, normal, bible, and music departments.
Brevard Institute was strong in music. The 1908 catalog shows 35 piano students and 8 voice students. One evening of commencement week was given over annually to the music department for recitals and concerts.
Brevard had two—later four—literary societies; each student was expected to be a member of one. Out of these societies came the school’s history of debate. Society debates were a part of commencement week; school-sponsored teams also participated in interscholastic debates. By 1926 Brevard Institute was one of 250 high schools to participate in the state debate tournament in Chapel Hill.
In 1931 the Citizen-Times reported that the school farm produced more than enough grain, meat, dairy products, and vegetables to feed the entire school. In addition, the farm employed many of the male students, helping them to pay their school costs.
By the 1930’s, the growth of public education made the mission of Brevard Institute less relevant. So it was closed in July of 1933.
Brevard, North Carolina
In 1895 the Reverend Fitch Taylor and his wife opened Brevard Epworth School. In 1903 control of the school passed to the Women’s Home Mission Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Brevard Institute opened with fifty female students. While the 1907-8 catalog still describes Brevard as a “Home School for Girls,” by then it had become co-educational with 64 males among its 195 students.
Bricks and Mortar
Brevard is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. Fewer than 600 people resided in the town in 1895 when Brevard Epworth School opened. The campus consisted of 108 acres, including its farm. By 1933 when Brevard Institute closed, the campus contained three main buildings--in addition to barns and cottages. Old Taylor Hall was described as “new” in the 1906 catalog; “modern in design,” with fifty rooms, it served all school functions. The frame structure was later veneered with brick and repurposed as a women’s dormitory. Spencer Hall, built in 1914, became the new administration building. In addition to an auditorium seating 250, it had 22 rooms for classrooms, offices, and a chapel. New Taylor Hall, built in 1924, was a three-story brick building with a mansard roof. It became the men’s dormitory.
In 1933 the campus was renovated and gifted to the Western North Carolina conference of the Methodist church to house a new junior college named Brevard College. Old Taylor Hall was razed in 1953; Spencer Hall was demolished in 1971. Deteriorated beyond repair, New Taylor Hall was razed om 2014.
Brevard Institute catalog images of "Old" Taylor Hall (left) and Spencer Hall (right).
America's Lost Colleges
Team name: Teams were called Tigers in
1927 and Green Flashes in 1931
In 1912 the Brevard News noted a baseball game in which the Institute defeated Brevard High School 13-2. But until the 1920’s, sports seem have been intramural events. Commencement week included the annual field day, featuring a boys’ tennis tournament and a girls’ basketball tournament.
Starting in 1926 newspapers carried news of baseball contests and both boys’ and girls’ basketball games. Opponents included similar schools such as Fruitland Institute, Sylva Collegiate Institute, Christ School, and Blue Ridge School for Boys. Basketball teams participated in the big 36 team Western Carolina Tournament held at Mars Hill College. This is remarkable because Brevard Institute lacked a gymnasium for practice or games.
In 1928 Brevard began football, losing 68-0 to the Weaver College Reserves and 7-0 to Grace High School that year. The Green Flashes also lost to what is today Western Carolina University.
In 1932 Brevard began a boxing program in response to Charlotte High School. Brevard lost 8-0 to Charlotte and also lost to Oak Ridge against a 4-2 win over Hickory High School.
Catalog image of a gym class in 1929
Cover image: The burned out shell of Martin Gymnasium at Iberia Academy and Junior College, Iberia, Missouri