An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Valle Crucis, North Carolina

In 1842 Bishop Levi S. Ives of North Carolina decided to form a religious community in North Carolina on the model of the one that was beginning in Nashotah, Wisconsin. It was established in western North Carolina, near the Tennessee border, where three streams make their junction and thus form the shape of a cross. Valle Crucis (from the Latin “Valley of the Cross”) was also the name of a pre-Reformation monastery in the mountains of Wales. It was to be a place for an agricultural mission and a school for training clergy. The bishop intended it to be modeled after the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He planned to serve as the general of the community. The first missionary there was the Rev. Henry H. Prout, who began his work late in 1842. In 1845 a training school for the ministry was opened, along with a classical and agricultural school for boys. The school opened with thirty boys and seven candidates for the ordained ministry. The first head of the school was the Rev. William Thurston. William West Skiles joined the community as a missionary and worked as a deacon in the area until 1862. Skiles practiced medicine among the mountain people and worked in the missions. The religious community which formed there was called the Order of the Holy Cross. The first members were professed in 1847 at St. Luke's Chapel, New York, while Bishop Ives attended the General Convention in New York. The first superior of the community was the Rev. William Glenny French. At first the Associate Mission and Training School for the Ministry was successful. Controversy plagued the community because of its monastic character. It disbanded in 1849. Valle Crucis closed when Bishop Ives resigned in 1852. Bishop Joseph Blount Chesire revived the school in the 1890s, but it closed in 1943. In the 1960s the property and facilities were converted into the Episcopal Church Conference Center. See Skiles, William West.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.