- Lake Junaluska, NC 
Cabin Rentals & Vacation Properties, just minutes from Maggie Valley and Waynesville, NC

View Rentals
Area Golf
Property Owner Services
About Lake Junaluska
Contact Us
Search Engine Visibility
Starting at $19.99/year
Put Your Ad Here
Contact Keith
Put Your Ad Here
Contact Keith
A Brief History

By Bill Lowry

The Assembly is named for Chief Junaluska of the Cherokee Indians.  In 1838 when the Cherokees were removed to Oklahoma via the infamous “Trail of Tears,” Chief Junaluska walked west with his people. After learning that a remnant had hidden in the mountains, walked back to North Carolina and remained the chief of the Eastern Band of the Cherokees until his death.

The highest peak of the mountains seen from the Junaluska Cross was originally named Mr. Junaluska. The lake was named for the mountain, and the Assembly was named for the Lake. In 1929 the Assembly adopted the name of the Lake as its name.

By the spring of 1913 twelve hundred acres of land had been purchased, the grounds had been laid out, and construction of facilities had begun. While the auditorium was the only building ready for the June conference, a hotel was under construction as were thirteen private summer homes. Today there are over 700 private homes and cottages located at the Assembly. 

The lake was created by constructing a dam across Richland Creek which flowed through the center of the property. While the dam was completed in the spring of 1913 the lake was not filled with water by the opening of the Conference. There were no facilities for overnight guests at that time. The Southern Railway provided transportation to and from the Assembly grounds three times a day.

By 1914 the first hotel was completed and in addition there were several other “lodges” and “inns” of various sizes. Other facilities were under construction. This growth was to continue for years to come.

In 1917 a large hotel, the Junaluska Inn, was opened. Unfortunately it burned in the summer of 1918. Later the Board of Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South built a hotel on the same site. It was originally named “Mission Inn” but the name was changed to “Lambuth Inn” to honor a missionary Bishop, Walter Russell Lambuth. At the other end of the Lake a large classroom/auditorium building was built in 1923.  It was named for John Shackford, a leader in Christian education. Both of these buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.

During the early days of the Assembly the majority of visitors came via the railroad. A beautiful depot was constructed by the Southern Railway on the south side of the lake.  In 1915 a large boat was constructed to carry guests from the depot to the hotels across the lake. It would also serve as a sightseeing boat. Its original name was Oonagusta but it was later changed to the Cherokee. Four such “Cherokees” have served the needs of the Assembly through the years.

In 1932 with the coming of the great depression and increasing debt, the Assembly was forced into bankruptcy. In a move that borders on miraculous, first Jerry Liner, who operated the Junaluska Supply Company near the dam, and a year later James Atkins Jr., the son of Bishop Atkins were named as the receivers. These persons, both of whom had a deep love of the Assembly and its ministry, managed to hold the Assembly together.

In 1938 The General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South accepted the ownership of the Assembly thus fulfilling the dream of those who had begun it in 1913. A year later, with the merger of three Methodist denominations, the Assembly became the property of the new denomination, The Methodist Church. At its first General Conference in 1940, the Church formally accepted the Assembly and the 1948 General Conference transferred the ownership of the Assembly to the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the Church.

Following World War II the Assembly experienced another period of extensive construction. The Memorial Chapel was built to honor all who served in the armed forces. Many Methodist churches of the Southeast sent the names of these of its membership along with a donation. A book containing those names is in the Room of Memory.

Other needed buildings were built, including the Paul Kern Youth Center, the Jones Dining Hall, new lodges, a new administration building, and a swimming pool. Stuart Auditorium was enclosed and extensively renovated including new flooring and seating.

In addition to leaders of renown from within the ranks of Methodism other well known teachers and leaders have appeared at the Assembly. Some of these are Dr. William E. Sangster, Dr. Billy Graham, Chet Huntley, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon.

The World Methodist Council decided to locate its International Headquarters at the Assembly and, in 1955, their building including the World Methodist Museum was completed. Today, this Council is made up of 77 denominations who trace their faith through the influence of John Wesley. These are located in more than 100 nations of the world.

Over the years the Assembly has become the gathering place for ‘the people called Methodist” and a place of inspiration and nurture for thousands.

For the complete script of the brief History of the Lake Junaluska Assembly by Bill Lowry travel to the SEL Heritage Center on the grounds.

e-mail Carriage Quarters or call 828-450-0678

Your Performance Consultant...
Keith Corbeil
PO Box 1443
Lake Junaluska, NC 28745