Montreat College is a private Christian liberal arts college located in the town of Montreat, North Carolina. Montreat College also has campuses for adults and professionals across the state of North Carolina. The School of Professional and Adult Studies has campus locations in Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, and Morganton, North Carolina.
In 1897 a Congregationalist minister named John C. Collins from New Haven, Connecticut, joined with a number of likeminded associates from other denominations, including evangelist Weston R. Gales, to form the Mountain Retreat Association. “The corporation was not owned by one denomination but it was interdenominational in its makeup without church connection or control. The original Montreat idea has changed, grown and developed into what now is. Its name was derived from the words ‘Mountain Retreat.’”  The purpose of the original organization was stated in its charter as follows: “…to establish and maintain in the mountain section of North Carolina, a municipality containing assembly grounds for the encouragement of Christian work and living through Christian convention, public worship, missionary work, schools, libraries, orphan homes, manual and trades training and other operations auxiliary and incidental thereto; also a community and health resort with places for dwellings, permanently and temporarily, for health, rest, recreation, Christian work and fellowship, together with whatever may be connected therewith, directly or incidentally.” 
Today the name ‘Montreat’ is used for at least three different entities including Montreat College. The original Mountain Retreat Association still exists, but was transformed into a Presbyterian conference center less than ten years after its creation when J. R. Howerton of Charlotte, North Carolina, conceived and carried out the idea of purchasing Montreat for the Presbyterian Church in the United States (also known informally as the Southern Presbyterian Church). In 1913, Dr. Robert C. Anderson, then president of the Mountain Retreat Association, proposed that the grounds and facilities of the Association be used for a school during the academic year. In 1915, an Ad Interim Committee of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. reported: “1. We have made a careful examination of the Montreat property, and believe that it could be made suitable for school purposes by installing heating facilities and adding up-to-date school equipment. In this way provision could easily be made for 350 to 400 pupils. 2. We have carefully considered the various schools within the bounds of our General Assembly and under the control of the various Synods and Presbyteries, and we believe that one need of our ecclesiastical school system is a Christian Normal School for Teachers. We believe that Montreat is well located and adapted for a school of this nature.” 
Having been granted a charter by the State of North Carolina in January 1917, the minutes of the Mountain Retreat Association ‘Managing Committee’ dated July 13, 1917 voted “The Mountain Retreat Association hereby offers to the Board of Trustees of the Montreat Normal School so much of their buildings grounds and equipment as may be needed for school purposes for eight months during the year, it being understood that the Montreat Normal School shall pay for water, lights, insurance and ordinary repairs to the property for the time covered.” 
In this way the predecessor to Montreat College was created as a part of the Mountain Retreat Association to make year-round use of the facilities previously used only for summer conferences. But from the beginning “the accounts of the Mountain Retreat Association and Montreat College were kept separate. No money was ever transferred from one to the other.” 
The Town of Montreat came into being in 1967 after the Mountain Retreat Association found it increasingly burdensome to maintain the roads and the water and sewer systems of the retreat center. The Board of Directors voluntarily agreed to surrender “all municipal powers and functions and permit Montreat to be governed by the laws of Buncombe County and the State of North Carolina.” 
The Montreat Normal School, a four-year preparatory high school followed by a two-year college program, opened its first session in October 1916 with eight students. This school continued to grow over the ensuing years. Throughout times of war, economic fluctuations, and rapid social change, the school sought to provide a Christian setting in which to prepare young women to become teachers.
In 1934, during the tenure of Dr. Robert C. Anderson as president, Montreat Normal School was renamed Montreat College. The college grew as its academic program expanded. It began a four-year degree program in 1945. After 14 years as a four-year women’s college, the college was restructured in 1959 as a coeducational junior college and renamed Montreat-Anderson College to honor Dr. Anderson.
One of the school’s benefactors over the years has been local resident Billy Graham, whose wife Ruth Bell Graham was actively involved with students for many years. During a time when the school’s identity was being defined, Dr. Graham gave a total of $150,000 over a period of three years.
In 1962 Rev. Calvin Thielman who had been living in Montreat for some time as a Special Assistant to Billy Graham was called as Pastor of the Montreat Presbyterian Church and at the same time served as the first chaplain to students at Montreat-Anderson College. He held both of these jobs until 1992 when Ed Bonner was called as college chaplain, while Thielman continued as Pastor of the Church until his retirement in 1995.
In the 1975 the college and the Mountain Retreat Association conference center formed two separate organizations with Dr. Vaughn as College President and Mr. Monroe Ashley, a Baptist minister who had done extensive work in camp and conference ministry, as the President of the Mountain Retreat Association.
In 1986, the college Board of Trustees, realizing the demands and changing circumstances in higher education, made the decision to become again a baccalaureate institution. The dream of its first president, Dr. Anderson, was for the college to serve as an accredited baccalaureate institution. The college has realized that dream. It returned to the original name of Montreat College in August 1995, sharing the original vision and identity. The change reflects the Montreat College of today, a four-year college with several growing campuses and a graduate program.
Many of the older buildings are constructed out of stone. In the early days Emilie Miller Vaughan described it thus: “I wish I could tell you of the scenery around here & at the retreat. People who have travelled say it is only equalled by Switzerland” 
Organization and administration
Mr. Joe Kirkland is the interim president of Montreat College.
Montreat College’s traditional program is made up of 400 students who are pursuing a Christ-centered liberal arts education in areas of study that range from Business Administration and Bible and Religion, to Environmental Studies, Outdoor Education and Music Business – totaling 15 tracks of study. The School of Professional and Adult Studies began offering classes on September 19, 1994. With online programs and physical campuses in Asheville, Charlotte, Morganton, Raleigh, and Rocky Mount, the college seeks to serve adults in the work force who want to improve themselves and earn a college degree. In June 1998 Montreat College was accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a level three institution to offer the master’s degree in business administration. This accreditation was reaffirmed in December 2012.
The Montreat campus' student body consists of around 400 undergraduate students. The School of Professional and Adult Studies consists of 420 adult undergraduate, graduate, and online students.
Montreat College athletic teams, nicknamed athletically as the Cavaliers, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, track & field and volleyball.
In popular culture
- Montreat College is featured in the 2009 novel One Second After, written by William R. Forstchen. He is a Professor of History and Faculty Fellow there.
- C. A. Rowland, The Genesis of Montreat, (Athens, GA: Charles Alden Rowland, 1952), page 2
- Robert C. Anderson, The Story of Montreat from Its Beginning, 1897-1947, page 2
- Robert C. Anderson, The Story of Montreat from Its Beginning, 1897-1947, page 3
- Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (Richmond, VA: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1915), page 168
- Minutes of the Managing Committee of the Mountain Retreat Association dated July 13, 1917, page 179
- Anderson, Robert Campbell, The Story of Montreat from its Beginning, 1897-1947. Montreat, NC: Robert C. Anderson, 1949, page 34-35
- C. Grier Davis, Montreat: A Retreat for Renewal, 1947-1972 (Kingsport, TN: Arcata Graphics, 1986) pages 1-2
- Davis, Calvin Grier, Montreat: A Retreat For Renewal: 1947-1972. Arcata Graphics: Kingsport, TN, 1986, page 132
- Maxwell, Elizabeth, A Flowing Stream: An Informal History of Montreat. Alexander, NC: WorldComm, 1997, page 160.
- Maxwell, Elizabeth, A Flowing Stream: An Informal History of Montreat. Alexander, NC: WorldComm, 1997, page 109.
- Vaughan, Emilie Miller, Mother Pioneered at Montreat: Her Letters 1898-1899. Ithaca, NY: Emilie Miller Vaughan, 1972.