Valley residents highlighted in new WWI exhibit


A centennial exhibit on World War I, highlighting services of some Swannanoa Valley residents, will open Saturday, April 22 at the Presbyterian Heritage Center in Montreat.

"The Great War & Its Consequences" exhibit probes into the immense impact of World War I – remapping Middle East and European countries, changing colonialism, affecting missionaries and altering the course of history. Information presented includes President Woodrow Wilson's mixed legacy, the peace that failed, and lives and experiences of chaplains and soldiers.

Several members of Swannanoa Valley's oldest families enlisted in the WWI effort.

“After 100 years, the first world war (1914–1918) is nearly forgotten in the U.S. due to America’s late entry into the war almost three years after it started and our brief time before peace was declared,” said Ron Vinson, the center's executive director. “America joined the war in April 1917 and armistice was in November 1918. But millions of U.S. citizens responded to the call, including members of the Penland, Morris, Walker, Burnette and Foreman families from Black Mountain and Montreat. These local soldiers and sailors are shown in photos from a rare scrapbook in the (center) archives.” Additional photos of local WWI soldiers and nurses are sought by the PHC for the exhibit, which will run for a year (contact the center at 669-6556).

The exhibit showcases rare artifacts and dramatic glass lantern pictures from the war, as well as film footage of evangelist Billy Sunday addressing American troops. Also part of the exhibit are audio recordings of popular songs of the era, President Woodrow Wilson’s hymnbook during the period, a soldier’s pocket New Testament and posters and newspapers.

During April and May, the Presbyterian Heritage Center is open Thursday–Friday from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Saturday from 1-4 p.m. and Sunday from 1:30–4 p.m. From June through Aug. 15, the center is open Monday from noon to 4 p.m., Tuesday–Friday from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Saturday from 1–4 p.m. and Sunday from 1:30–4 p.m.

Admission and parking are free. The Presbyterian Heritage Center isat 318 Georgia Terrace, Montreat, steps away from Lake Susan. For more, visit or call 669-6556.