Try, Try, and Try Again

The history of the University of North Carolina at Asheville is a long and varied one.  Our story starts in 1927, with the Buncombe County Junior College.  Though technically not UNCA, the long history of this institution would evolve into what we now know as our school.  This Junior College started with less than one hundred students, and free tuition (oh, how things have changed).  Less than two years into its life, the Great Depression hit, causing the College to start charging tuition.  However, tuition could be paid in a variety of ways, such as vegetables, eggs, or other produce.  The 30’s would mark the first in a long series of relocations for the college, as the school system withdrew funding for the college, forcing them to move to what is now David Millard Junior High School.  The administration of the college was also moved to now use a board of trustees.  The college is renamed to the Asheville-Biltmore College and accredited by the US Department of Education.  Another six years after the college first moved, it moved again, to the area which is now the Memorial Hospital, just outside of downtown.  Just in case things were getting too comfortable, two years after that the administration decided to move the college onto Merrimon Avenue, which runs adjacent to the current campus, to give it a little more independence.  Believe it or not, because of increased enrollment, the college moved seven years later to Seely’s Castle.  Yes, you read that correctly.  For a brief period of time, college was held in an actual castle on Sunset Mountain.  In 1958, increased enrollment once again forces the college to relocate.  This time, they move to what is now the current university campus, right beside an old Civil War battlefield.  In 63, it became a baccalaureate institution, moving away from their traditional two-year degrees.  Because of this, there were no graduating students in 64.  1969 marked the beginning of the college officially being UNCA, as it joined the University of North Carolina system.  The following year marked the first time enrollment had surpassed one thousand students.  Nine years later, it exceeded two thousand.  Nearly every building constructed or to be constructed in the following years on the UNCA campus had been or would be named after either notable students, alumni, or members of the community.  The next thirty years mostly saw additions to the campus in the form of new buildings, along with a steady increase of new students and faculty.  The liberal arts aspect of the college grew, and the more artistic aspects of the city influenced the direction of much of the campus and students.  Last year, UNCA received just over a thousand new students.  Thirty-five years ago, the campus had roughly that many students total.  It’s growth since moving to the current campus and joining the UNC system has been astronomical, and provided much-needed security for the future of the institution.  The history of UNCA has been one of many setbacks and speed bumps, but despite all, the campus has endured and prospered despite many relocations and renamings.  UNCA is truly an artistic beacon in the “land of the sky”.

“UNCA Timeline.” Accessed September 9, 2016. 

Seely’s Castle. 1920. Asheville. In WNC Magazine. March 2014. Accessed September 9, 2016.

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