For several decades the first Sunday in October was designated as Davidson River Day—a day of remembrance of the heritage of Davidson River Presbyterian Church and Davidson River Academy, as well as the daughter churches in Mills River (established in 1859) and Brevard (established in 1891), and a day to celebrate the future.
On October 7, 1923 the Honorable Robert L. Gash gave an address proclaiming the significance and history of Davidson River Day to those in attendance. According to Gash, “In the late seventeen-nineties, this grove was known as Walnut Grove Preaching Point.” Located along the Davidson River not far from the home of Benjamin Davidson, the first permanent settlers in the area following the Revolutionary War gathered for services led by traveling preachers of various denominations.
In 1826 Benjamin Davidson deeded the grove to trustees appointed to build a “free meeting house” used by Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists. From this beginning, the Davidson River Presbyterian Church with twenty-eight original members was constructed in 1828.
|The 1891 Davidson River Presbyterian church in the
By 1855 there was a need for a larger building to serve as a church and school. The school, Davidson River Academy, offered a mid-level education in the areas of classics and elementary reading, writing and algebra. It had already been in existence for three decades and would operate for an additional 40 years.
This new building, the second to serve the Davidson River community, burned in 1891. Gash states, “At that time the trustees of the church conveyed to the school committee the site of the present school house; and in rebuilding, they built only a church, although they permit the school to use the grove as a playground.
The 1924 Sanborn map shows the school and church located on the east side of Davidson River Road, north of the rail line into Pisgah Forest.
|This circa 1915 photo shows the “present school house” at
Davidson River that Gash referred to in his 1923 address.
After Davidson River Presbyterian and Brevard Presbyterian merged during the Great Depression, services were moved to the Brevard church, located on Probart Street. Throughout the 1930s and early 1940s the congregation continued to celebrate Davidson River Day at the old Davidson River Presbyterian grounds each October. It was attended by hundreds from near and far.
Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. For more information, comments, or suggestions contact NCRoom staff at or 828-884-1820.