Montreat Minute December 17, 2021

Watch Night Service Returns New Year’s Eve

After a “Covid interruption” last year, the Cottagers’ Watch Night Service will be held on Friday, December 31, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. in Graham Chapel.  The brief service will be led by the Rev. Edna Banes.

Watch Night Services have been observed on New Year’s Eve for several centuries in many different traditions. Moravians in Europe held the first one in 1733 as they gathered to watch over their past and determine if they were ready to meet God in the new year. John Wesley brought the tradition to America in 1770 and adapted it as a covenant renewal service. In 1862 the service took on added significance as enslaved Blacks watched for the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.

The Cottagers will draw on these traditions and add some of their own as Watch Night is celebrated in Montreat. Through music, scripture, and reflection participants will acknowledge the many ways that God has watched over them this past year and consider the many ways to watch for God in the year ahead.

Montreat Placed on Assistance List

The Town of Montreat has been placed on the North Carolina Treasurer’s Unit Assistance List, which means we are delinquent in submitting our annual audit for fiscal year 2019-2020. The audit was due by January 1, 2021. However, due to a staff personal issue and the work load/scheduling of our contracted audit firm, the final audit draft was only recently submitted to us by the auditor for review. It is now being reviewed by Town staff and the Audit Committee and will be forwarded to the State Treasurer’s office as soon as the review is completed.

Being placed on the Unit Assistance List does not carry any consequences in and of itself- no fines, no reprimands. It is a mechanism for the Treasurer’s office to offer help and assistance to ensure the financial report is properly submitted. We regret this circumstance and are working to ensure such a significant lapse does not occur again.

Lots of Leaves!

Katherine Morton Achtemeier, owner of the Morton Saltbox on Virginia Road, has been busy! Recently she filled 30 bags of leaves and set them out for pickup. Walking by and seeing the collection of bags was an impressive sight! Has anyone beat Katherine in the number of bags filled at one time? Katherine, we hope you contacted Nancy Midgette ([email protected]) to report the hours you spent bagging your leaves! The Town collects hours worked for the purpose of receiving annual Firewise certification. Good work, Katherine, and your yard looks great!

Board of Adjustment Update

The Montreat Board of Adjustment is still in the process of receiving testimony on the application for a Special Use Permit (SUP) to build a 40 room hotel at 309 Assembly Drive. They met on January 13 and January 15 for thirteen total hours of testimony. A recording of the January 13 meeting is available by CLICKING HERE. The January 15 meeting recording is available by CLICKING HERE. The Board will take a break until January 4 when it reconvenes at 9:00am in the Montreat Town Hall to continue the SUP hearing. Watch for additional information.

The Board also met last night to consider a setback variance for the expansion of a non-conforming residence. They approved the request.

We are extremely grateful to the Board for their dedication during this time of unusually heavy demands on their time.

Did You Know?

Community Center circa 1900, our current Post Office

In the last “Did You Know?”, we told you about John Collins, primary founder of Montreat. Collins had a partner- Weston R. Gales. Gales was a Southern evangelist who shared Collins’ dream of a Christian Conference Center in the Appalachian Mountains and joined forces with him to bring the Mountain Retreat Association into existence in 1897. 

In the first early years a lottery system apportioned lots to people who paid $50 for a 99 year lease and some cottages appeared on the landscape.  But Collins was not an effective manager and in November 1899 he returned to New England.  John Huyler became president, C. A. Rowland became vice-president, and Weston Gales assumed the role of general manager.  He moved to Montreat for such a meager salary that he was forced to continue his evangelistic work. While the conferences in the summer were reasonably well-attended, there were few places for people to stay and all meetings were held in tents.  Huyler agreed to build a hotel and Gales began immediately to gather funds to construct a much-needed church and school building.  What we know today as the Community Center (current Post Office) became a reality in the spring of 1900, at a cost of $1870.13.  It was funded entirely by private donations.  Rowland was the largest contributor at $400. 

Beginning in the summer of 1900 this building hosted conference sessions, Sunday and Wednesday services throughout the year, and a day school for local children (most of whom lived outside Montreat) taught by Gales’ daughter Anna.  Gales died on November 20, 1902, following a brief illness, but during his short tenure Montreat gained a hotel and some additional boarding houses, somewhat improved roads, and a church and school building that has served Montreat in many capacities.

Thanks to the Presbyterian Heritage Center, especially Nancy Midgette, for this glimpse from the past. Stop by the PHC for even more Montreat history and so much more.

Updates and Reminders

  • Town offices and services (except Police) will be off December 24 and 27 for the Christmas holiday. Sanitation collection will resume on Tuesday, December 28.
  • Town offices and services (except Police) will also be closed on January 3 for the New Year’s holiday. Sanitation collection will resume on Tuesday, January 4.
  • There will be many vacancies on Town Boards and Committees as of January 31 because terms of many current members expire. If you are interested in volunteering for the Board of Adjustment, Planning & Zoning Commission, Tree Board or the Open Space Conservation Committee, submit an electronic application by CLICKING HERE or drop by the Town Hall to pick up a form. Applications are due by December 31.


Do you have Town-related questions you would like answered? If so, please send them to Angela Murphy at [email protected] and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Have a great weekend!