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A Brief History
By Bill Lowry
The Assembly is named for Chief
Junaluska of the Cherokee
Indians. In 1838 when the Cherokees were
By the spring of 1913 twelve hundred acres of land
purchased, the grounds had been laid out, and construction of
begun. While the auditorium was the only building ready for the June
conference, a hotel was under construction as were thirteen private
homes. Today there are over 700 private homes and cottages located at
The lake was created by constructing a dam across
Creek which flowed through the center of the property. While the dam
completed in the spring of 1913 the lake was not filled with water by
opening of the Conference. There were no facilities for overnight
that time. The Southern Railway provided transportation to and from the
Assembly grounds three times a day.
By 1914 the first hotel was completed and in addition there were several other “lodges” and “inns” of various sizes. Other facilities were under construction. This growth was to continue for years to come.In 1917 a large hotel, the Junaluska Inn, was opened. Unfortunately it burned in the summer of 1918. Later the Board of Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South built a hotel on the same site. It was originally named “Mission Inn” but the name was changed to “Lambuth Inn” to honor a missionary Bishop, Walter Russell Lambuth. At the other end of the
During the early days of the Assembly the majority of visitors came via the railroad. A beautiful depot was constructed by the Southern Railway on the south side of the lake. In 1915 a large boat was constructed to carry guests from the depot to the hotels across the lake. It would also serve as a sightseeing boat. Its original name was Oonagusta but it was later changed to the Cherokee. Four such “Cherokees” have served the needs of the Assembly through the years.
In 1932 with the coming of the great depression and increasing debt, the Assembly was forced into bankruptcy. In a move that borders on miraculous, first Jerry Liner, who operated the Junaluska Supply Company near the dam, and a year later James Atkins Jr., the son of Bishop Atkins were named as the receivers. These persons, both of whom had a deep love of the Assembly and its ministry, managed to hold the Assembly together.
In 1938 The General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South accepted the ownership of the Assembly thus fulfilling the dream of those who had begun it in 1913. A year later, with the merger of three Methodist denominations, the Assembly became the property of the new denomination, The Methodist Church. At its first General Conference in 1940, the Church formally accepted the Assembly and the 1948 General Conference transferred the ownership of the Assembly to the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the Church.
Following World War II the Assembly experienced another period of extensive construction. The Memorial Chapel was built to honor all who served in the armed forces. Many Methodist churches of the Southeast sent the names of these of its membership along with a donation. A book containing those names is in the Room of Memory.
Other needed buildings were built,
In addition to leaders of renown from within the ranks of Methodism other well known teachers and leaders have appeared at the Assembly. Some of these are Dr. William E. Sangster, Dr. Billy Graham, Chet Huntley, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon.
The World Methodist Council decided to
International Headquarters at the Assembly and, in 1955, their building
Over the years the Assembly has become the gathering place for ‘the people called Methodist” and a place of inspiration and nurture for thousands.
For the complete script of the brief
History of the Lake
Junaluska Assembly by Bill Lowry travel to the
e-mail Carriage Quarters or call 828-450-0678
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