Lake Junaluska, the first 50 years
By the time Lake Junaluska reached its 50th anniversary, it weathered tragic fires, bankruptcy and rapid growth. World leaders took the stage to inspire conference attendees, some of the best minds in academia journeyed to Haywood County to help lead activities at Lake Junaluska and those seeking spiritual enrichment flocked to the facilities.
In the 1920s, Duke University set up a summer school on the Lake Junaluska campus, and a School of Missions was held annually. Conferences on the Bible, evangelism, social service, stewardship and leadership were targeted to both clergy and the laity. In addition, there were women’s and youth conferences, offering a mountain experience for the entire family.
A band and orchestra school was established and a Florida boys school leased property at the lake during the off-season. This source of income proved fateful a tragic fire, only years later found to be started by several young smokers, burned the Auditorium Hotel to the ground in. This fire was on the heels of a July 1918 blaze that claimed the Junaluska Inn, a grand hotel on the premises that only operated a single season.
In the early years, passengers arrived by train, a travel mode that stopped in 1949 when automobiles came into their own.
By the 1930s, just before the name was changed to Lake Junaluska Methodist Assembly, a golf course had been completed, more than 1,000 acres around the lake had been acquired, about 20 miles of roads had been built and the auditorium seating capacity was increased to 3,500.The book “Junaluska Jubilee” by Elmer T. Clark noted there was an educational building on campus, two large hotels, nearly a dozen privately owned boarding houses, an administration building, a bath house, boat facilities, a cafeteria, a playground and tennis courts and more than 100 cottages that surrounded the lake area.