HistoryA National Historic Landmark, Pine Mountain Settlement School was founded in 1913 as a school for children in the commonwealth's remote southeastern mountains and a social center for surrounding communities. The school was the dream of a local man, William Creech Sr., who was troubled by the area's lack of educational opportunities, and the prevalence of social problems and rampant disease. He donated land for the school and recruited two women, Katherine Pettit of Lexington, Kentucky, and Ethel DeLong, New Jersey native, to establish and run the new institution. These two women enlisted the help of architect Mary Rockwell Hook of Kansas City to draw up plans for the campus and its buildings.
From 1913 to 1930, Pine Mountain served as a boarding school for elementary and middle school age children. By 1930, many communities had elementary schools, but most did not offer educational opportunities beyond eighth grade. Pine Mountain evolved into a boarding school for high school students. The School stressed academics, but also encouraged students to develop their interests and talents in vocational and artistic fields. In 1949, Pine Mountain began a joint educational venture with the county school system to operate a community elementary school. The community school operated until the early 1970s, when Pine Mountain began to focus its work on environmental education.
Today, Pine Mountain provides instruction in environmental education, Appalachian culture, and crafts to students and adults.
The campus is located on 625 acres on the north side of Pine Mountain, the most imposing geological feature of the southern Appalachian Mountains. The wooded slopes of Pine Mountain's property are home to an impressive number of plants and animals, some of which are exclusive to the campus.
Helen Wykle, recently retired archivist from UNC Asheville, and Ann Angel Eberhardt, formerly with the Smithsonian Institution,have worked diligently over the last ten years to both process the archival holdings at Pine Mountain and to produce this wonderful resource which remains a "work in progress'. This new website (https://pinemountainsettlement.net) incorporates biographies of some of the former directors and many others associated with the school during its 100 year history. Historic photographs and documents relate the story of Pine Mountain Settlement's progressive education program, foodways, farming practices, and our involvement with community health issues through the health clinics and hospital.