The history of Lake Logan Conference Center and Camp Henry 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 sawmill 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 ensure 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, and named for Logan Thomson who was Reuben Senior’s brother-in-law, the son of Peter G. Thomson, and the President of Champion in the 1940s. Today, 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 truly is.
Adjacent to 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 Smoky 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.
This is where part two of our history begins, but in order to fully understand the history of Lake Logan, 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.
Camp Henry spent a transition year at Camp Mishemokwa in Bat Cave, NC while the newly named Lake Logan Episcopal Center was being prepared as the new home of Camp Henry. 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 Episcopal Center opened its doors in the summer of 2002 welcoming Camp Henry to its new home. Since then, Camp Henry has taken place at Lake Logan and has carried on the legacy of faith, friendship, community, and environmental stewardship established over 60 years ago. Grandparents and parents who attended Camp Henry are now seeing the same joy, transformation, and growth that they experienced as children and youth on the faces of today’s campers. In 2016, the legal name was changed to Lake Logan Conference Center and Camp Henry, Inc. and now does business as, simply, Lake Logan, with its three distinct program areas – the Retreat Center, Camp Henry, and the Outdoor School.