Close

Uh oh...

It appears that you're using a severely outdated version of Safari on Windows. Many features won't work correctly, and functionality can't be guaranteed. Please try viewing this website in Edge, Mozilla, Chrome, or another modern browser. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused!

Read More about this safari issue.
Close
Northwest Fayetteville
Get directions
Northwest Travel 0

Mount Sequoyah Celebrates 100 Years

O

One of the most iconic places to view the city of Fayetteville, Arkansas is from the top of Mount Sequoyah, home of Mount Sequoyah Center. The center at the top of the mountain doesn’t just provide a breathtaking view of Fayetteville. For 100 years, it has been a place of retreat, spirituality and gathering. In 2016, the Mount Sequoyah Center took on a new purpose. As it celebrates 100 years of existence, Mount Sequoyah looks to become a welcoming place for all to enjoy.

How Mount Sequoyah Became Part of Fayetteville’s History

Mount Sequoyah has its roots in the Methodist Church. Over 100 years ago, the group wanted to create a conference and retreat center west of the Mississippi River. It already had one center in North Carolina on Lake Junaluska. The church considered many applications from cities and states west of the Mississippi, but the city of Fayetteville ultimately won over the others with an offer of 400 acres, $35,000 in seed money, access to city utilities, and the promise of a new road to the top of the mountain. In 1922, the organization broke ground on the new retreat center.

During its first few years of existence, Mt. Sequoyah was actively being shaped by building projects. Parker Hall (formerly called the Epworth Building) is a two-story rock and brick building that began in 1924. Its purpose was to house young adults attending youth summer camps. Fifteen upstairs rooms built dormitory-style housed the teenagers while the downstairs included classrooms and a kitchen. The acreage also held a swimming hole and a golf course at one time, though they’re no longer in existence.

In 1927, the Women’s Missionary Society broke ground on a four-story building now called Sequoyah Hall. The society housed young women here while they trained and studied for missions or provided rooms for when the missionaries needed a place of retreat. The group ran the building until the late 1950s or early 1960s. It was then given to the Methodist retreat center. Other buildings added to the center’s ability to host summer camps, conferences, weddings, and more. The famous cross that sits on the edge of Mount Sequoyah was built in 1938 and has provided a meeting point and lookout for many visitors and locals alike.

The name of Mount Sequoyah Center was originally the Western Methodist Assembly, but a naming contest was held for something more original. Mrs. A.C. Millar, the wife of the chairman of the board for the center, submitted the name Mount Sequoyah. She wanted to honor Sequoyah, the inventor of the Cherokee syllabary, which allowed the Cherokee to read and write in their own language. Sequoyah lived and worked in Arkansas for a time, and when the Cherokee were forcibly removed from Georgia in 1838, they passed through Northwest Arkansas on the Trail of Tears. The name was approved and has graced the mountain ever since.

Buses arrive at Mount Sequoyah during the first decade of the retreat center’s existence.

A New Face In A Familiar Place

In 2016, the Methodist Church decided to gift the property to the board of trustees. Mount Sequoyah shifted from a part of the church to a separate and independent non-profit organization. Although the center is no longer associated with the church, they recognize the roots of community gatherings and retreats that made Mount Sequoyah an important part of the community. Now Mount Sequoyah is continuing its historic role as a conference and retreat center, but with a greater ability to reach out to everyone in the community.

In January of 2020, Emily Gentry took on the role of executive director. She has dug into the history of the center, reading back through pages and pages of minutes from old board meetings. She also brings a new vision to a historical place. “My vision for the center is that it is seen as more of a community center for all of Northwest Arkansas. I don’t want our organization to feel out of reach to anyone, and we want to consistently offer a variety of programs and events that are attractive and accessible to as many people as possible.”

In fulfillment of that vision, Mount Sequoyah now offers a wide variety of programming in addition to its ability to host gatherings of all types on its property. Creative Spaces supports artist residencies, studios and community arts programs. The tennis courts are available for private lessons and public use, and the swimming pool offers a swim team and swimming lessons during summer. Camp Sequoyah still honors one of the center’s original programs by offering a fun and safe camp program for children from ages 5 to 12. The center also offers a range of wedding packages as well. In 2003, Mount Sequoyah sold 100 acres of its property to the city of Fayetteville to be preserved as the Mount Sequoyah Woods Trail.

It’s Time to Celebrate 100 Years In Fayetteville

The Playground Director at Mount Sequoyah during the 1920s.

The Mount Sequoyah Conference and Retreat Center is 100 years old this year. It opened for its first season of activity in 1923. Executive Director Emily Gentry has been hard at work putting together a series of events to commemorate and celebrate the center’s role in the community.

Gentry is excited about what Mount Sequoyah has planned. “The 100-year celebration means several things to me. First, it is a big celebration for our organization not only for making it to this milestone but of all that we had to work through to make it here. We made it through a potentially rocky transition into an independent non-profit, and we have survived through much of the Covid crisis thanks to the resiliency of our board and staff and the support of our community and donors.”

Mount Sequoyah Centennial Events:

  • The 100-yard swimming challenge with the Marlin swim team.
  • 100 Years of Camp Celebration – August 1-5 is Epic Camp, the last week of summer camp and campers will enjoy an end-of-summer carnival celebration to commemorate 100 years of camp on Mount Sequoyah.
  • Festival of Trees fundraiser – open November 29 – December 10. On December 10, there’s a “Cheers to 100 Years” celebration kicking off the 100th-anniversary festivities.
  • Ringing of the Bells – March 15, 2023 – We will be asking community organizations to ring bells on this day at a certain time to recreate the time that the City of Fayetteville announced to its citizens that Fayetteville was officially chosen as the site of the Western Methodist Assembly in 1922.
  • Gentry is also planning to host a Cherokee language course, a Methodist Reunion, a Homecoming celebration (with an old-fashioned dinner and dance), a wedding vow celebration with a Garden Tea party, and more.

Keep up with the Mount Sequoyah Centennial Celebration through the events calendar at MountSequoyah.org, by following Mount Sequoyah Center on Facebook, or by subscribing to the weekly newsletter.

As Mount Sequoyah celebrates in 2022 and 2023, it promises something for everyone in the community to enjoy. Gentry says, “It is truly a celebration getting here. The 100-year celebration also marks a bit of a beginning to a new chapter. We are a secular, education and arts-focused non-profit, and we want people to enjoy the grounds, come to events, engage with art, and participate in programs with us. As Mount Sequoyah continues to transition away from being a church-owned facility, we are still learning all that means for our organization, what we offer, and what that will look like for the next 100 years.”

Meet the
author.

Learn more about .

A little about .

Kimberly S. Mitchell loves journeys, real or imagined. She has hiked the Inca Trail, walked into Panama on a rickety wooden bridge and once missed the last train of the night in Paris and walked several miles home (with friends). She believes magic can be found in life and books, loves to watch the stars appear, and still dreams of backpacking the world. Now she writes adventures to send her characters on journeys, too. Pen & Quin: International Agents of Intrigue - The Mystery of the Painted Book is her debut novel. Find out more at KSMitchell.com.

Read more stories by Kimberly Mitchell

 

Visit Kimberly Mitchell’s Website

Like this story? Read more from Kimberly Mitchell

0
0
3
3
0
0

Join the Conversation

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

 

Submit a photo

We select one featured photo per week, but we show many more in our gallery. Be sure to fill out all the fields in order to have yours selected.
  • Accepted file types: jpg, png, Max. file size: 5 MB.

Regions Topics
Social

What are you looking for?

Explore Arkansas

Central Arkansas

Little Rock, Conway, Searcy, Benton, Heber Springs

Northwest Arkansas

Fayetteville, Bentonville, Springdale, Fort Smith

South Arkansas

Hot Springs, Pine Bluff, Texarkana, Arkadelphia

Explore by Topic