Mount Pisgah Academy (MPA) is a coed boarding high school operated by the Carolina Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. It is located on the slopes of the Hominy Valley about eight miles (13 kilometers) west of Asheville, North Carolina, in the city of Candler. The campus includes 230 acres of lawns, flowers, and hills, with a scenic view of the Southern Appalachians, and the 5,721-foot peak of Mount Pisgah for which the school is named. MPA is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the National Council for Private Schools, and by the Accrediting Association of Seventh-day Adventists Schools, Colleges and Universities.1
Pisgah Industrial Institute (1914-1951)
The school began in 1914 as a self-supporting entity founded by three Adventist families: the Wallers, the Graveses, and the Steinmans. When E. C. Waller received a letter from California containing a personal check for $50 from W. C. White, mailed at the direction of his mother and prominent Adventist pioneer, E. G. White, the families saw it as providential. They proceeded with the founding of the school. Charles Graves and William Steinman sold their farms and purchased a 170-acre (69-hectare) site for the new school. They contributed implements and livestock and offered their skills in truck gardening, carpentry, and dairy for the planned vocational and agricultural programs.
The school’s vocational philosophy emphasized student work opportunities. Students were not charged tuition. Instead, they covered their room, board and laundry expenses by working on the farm and in the dairy, kitchen, or laundry. When a medical facility was later established, students also worked in it.2 E. C. and Anna Waller, who had some training from Union College and three years of teaching experience at Madison College in Madison, Tennessee, assumed the administrative and most of the academic responsibilities. They also assisted with the general work carried out by the others. Dorothy Graves, daughter of one of the founders, became bookkeeper and taught two classes. The expanding secondary school was called Pisgah Industrial Institute.
By 1916, the ten-room farmhouse could not accommodate the growing enrollment, so the barn, named Assembly Hall, was renovated. Tents pitched in the loft served as the boys’ dormitory that winter. In 1917, the laundry finally acquired running water, which was brought in by wooden troughs from a hillside spring. Also in that year, the farmhouse, which had served as kitchen, cafeteria, girls’ dormitory, and a faculty apartment, burned down. Once-suspicious neighbors helped to rebuild Assembly Hall during Christmas vacation and housed some of the girls in their homes for the winter. The Wallers’ room became a bedroom, classroom, music studio, principal’s office, and on two occasions, an operating room.
Mornings for the students were spent in school and afternoons were spent in work. The students originally worked for about two hours each day. Student-faculty government was also initiated. In 1929, the Wallers left for two years to obtain academic degrees, in accordance with accreditation requirements for the school. Accreditation by the State Department of Public Instruction was granted in 1946.
During 1914-1917, Drs. H. P and Alice Parker, of California, pioneered medical work that was closely linked with the school. In 1920 the Pisgah Sanitarium was built, and the hospital was completed twelve years later. Nursing instruction was given for a time but was discontinued after the institution was acquired by the Carolina Conference. Dr. O. S. Lindberg and William E. Westcott, and later Dr. Louis C. Waller (son of E. C. Waller), carried forward the work until the facilities were closed in 1957.
Mount Pisgah Academy (1951-present)
The E. C. Wallers finally chose to relinquish heavy responsibilities, and in 1951 the Pisgah Institute was given by the Board of Trustees to the Carolina Conference in exchange for sustentation support for the seven veteran workers when they retired.3 Renamed Mount Pisgah Academy, the school changed in many physical respects. In 1954 an administration building was finished, shortly followed by three new staff homes and, seven years later, a girls’ dormitory and four brick homes, replacing frame units.4
The gymnasium and church were added in 1966, the cafeteria-music complex in 1970, two more faculty homes in 1971, and a boys’ dormitory in 1972. During the fall of 1983, the administration building burned and a larger facility took its place. Between 1989 and 1993 slightly more than $1 million was spent upgrading and modernizing the gymnasium, cafeteria, faculty housing, water and sewer lines, and paving campus roads. During the 2000s, a new boys’ dormitory and Fleetwood Park was constructed.
The Future of MPA
As of 2018, the upcoming projects for the school were an updated girls’ dorm and gym. In the late 2010s, the Carolina Conference sold properties belonging to the Carolina Adventist Retirement Systems (CARS) and used part of the proceeds for an endowment fund in order to financially prepare for the future growth of the school.
Administrators (Pisgah Industrial Institute)
E. C. Waller (1919-1929), U. Bender (1929-1931), E. C. Waller (1931-1952), M. E. Moore (1952-1951)
Principals (Mount Pisgah Academy)
K. J. Berry (1951-1955), L. C. Strickland (1955-1958), K. R. Davis (1958-1959), M. E. Moore (1959-1961), E. F. Reifsnyder (1961-1964), J. A. Shepard (1964-1968), R. Tyson (1968-1970), S. Crook (1970-1971), G. de Leon (1971-1974), L. Caskey (1974-1983), T. Graves (1983-1987), L. Blackmer (1987-1992), A. Nielsen (1992-1995), J. Nafie (1995-2000), R. Anderson (2000-2017), B. Culpepper (2017-2018), R. Guenin (2018-present)
“About,” Mount Pisgah Academy, 2023. Accessed January 18, 2023. https://www.pisgah.us/about.
Lauda, C. H. “Mount Pisgah Academy.” Southern Tidings, April 4, 1951.
Lauda, C. H. “Mount Pisgah Academy Equipment Campaign.” Southern Tidings, July 28, 1954.
“Young Angels Noted at Mount Pisgah.” Southern Tidings, June 2004.
“Young Angels Noted at Mount Pisgah,” Southern Tidings, June 2004, 5.↩
C. H. Lauda, “Mount Pisgah Academy,” Southern Tidings, April 4, 1951, 5.↩
C. H. Lauda, “Mount Pisgah Academy Equipment Campaign,” Southern Tidings, July 28, 1954, 5-6.↩