The history of Lake Logan Conference Center begins in the early 1930s, when “logging operations of the Champion Lumber Mill at Sunburst, NC had clear cut all the timber on the surrounding mountains, the saw mill had been sent to another location and Sunburst, the company town in the valley, was essentially deserted. The President of the company, Reuben Robertson, convinced his Board that if the valley were dammed and a lake formed there, it would assure a reserve water source for paper operations at Champion's paper mill in Canton downstream. So the town was disassembled, the dam was built and the water from the Pigeon River was impounded to form Lake Logan, named for Mr. Robertson's brother-in-law, Logan Thomson. Today, more than 75 years later, we are the beneficiaries of one of the most beautiful mountain lakes on the East coast. It is the centerpiece of an ecologically bountiful environment punctuated only by the scenic byway that runs through it and whose occasional traffic reminds us how peaceful this remote valley really is.
Beside his new lake, Mr. Robertson created a family compound called Sit 'n Whittle Village, consisting of a main Lodge and six log mountain cabins moved from the Great Smokey Mountains National Park and reconstructed at Lake Logan. Sit 'n Whittle became the nucleus of Champion Paper Company's Executive Retreat, which eventually grew to accommodate 80+ visitors. In the late 1990s, Champion sold out to its employees; and in 2000 the Executive Retreat was divested to the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina for its present use as a conference center, while the surrounding timberland was acquired by the North Carolina Land Conservancy and transferred to State and Federal ownership.”
But why did those wacky Episcopalians buy Lake Logan you might ask yourself. This is where part two of our history begins, but in order to fully understand the history of the Lake Logan Episcopal Center, one must go back even further than Lake Logan itself. In the year 2000, The Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina decided to sell its camp and conference center in Black Mountain, NC called “In-the- Oaks” to Montreat College.
“In the Oaks was originally built as the grand estate of Franklin Silas Terry and his wife, Lillian Estelle Slocomb Emerson. In-the-Oaks was one of the last of the grand estates built between the coming of the railroad to western North Carolina in 1880 and the Great Depression. This was a period of building large, extravagant residences designed by some of America's most notable architects. Designed by the New York architect Frank E. Wallis, the estate was constructed between 1919 and 1921 and included more than 240,000 square feet and was built on 80 acres. The Terrys' daughter, Mrs. Lillian Boscovitch, donated the property to the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina in 1957. After receipt of the property, the church established Camp Henry for young people and began programs in 1959.”
In 2000, the Episcopal Diocese of WNC decided to sell the 80-acre property of In the Oaks, and purchase the 300-acre property of Lake Logan. The difficult decision to sell this beloved property was made to better suit the growing needs of Camp Henry and to provide a new home for programs ranging from spiritually based to environmental education, and much more.
Beginning in 2001, the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina began developing the Lake Logan property into a Camp and Conference Center designed to accommodate a wide variety of groups. At that time construction of the Bishop Robert Johnson Dining Hall began, as well as the refurbishment of the Lodge, and many of the cabins. Lake Logan Conference Center opened the doors in the summer of 2002 welcoming Camp Henry to its new home.