Wildacres Retreat, Little Switzerland, NC

Wildacres Retreat, Image Credit: Fred R. Sias, Jr.

About Wildacres Retreat

A conference center offering its facilities to nonprofit groups which conduct educational or cultural programs and seminars. It is a true retreat, undisturbed by through traffic or noises of the city. In 1946, it was dedicated by I.D. and Madolyn Blumenthal, of Charlotte, NC, to the improvement of human relations and interfaith dialogue. Since 1972, Wildacres has operated as a public foundation.

Wildacres is situated on 1400 acres at an elevation of 3,300 feet atop a mountain called Pompey's Knob, near the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is halfway between Asheville and Blowing Rock in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains.

The primary support of Wildacres comes from its own resources and The Blumenthal Foundation. Wildacres receives gifts from individuals, businesses and foundations interested in the philosophy and programs that are held there.

Among the many groups using the facilities are music and art master classes, religious and interfaith groups, mineral and lapidary societies, medical, social science, natural sciences, academic, environmental and senior citizens groups. All groups must be nonprofit and have planned educational programs.

Each group plans its own program and furnishes its director and staff. Wildacres supplements the programs with the aid of its staff and equipment and some recreational equipment, including scenic nature trails, horseshoes, ping pong, volley ball, basketball and a canteen. Wildacres is not a holiday resort and does not cater to the traveling public. Only group reservations are accepted with a maximum of 120 people. Small groups can be accommodated at the same time. Due to health regulations, no pets are allowed.

There are two lodges, a dining hall building, a library and auditorium, a mineral and lapidary workshop and a pottery studio. All buildings are heated. Meals are served family style. All sleeping rooms have private baths and have either two twin beds or one double and one twin bed. There is a spacious lobby and several large and small meeting rooms. When weather permits, the patio can also be used for assemblies.

Wildacres has a lending and reference library and gem and mineral displays.

All facilities at Wildacres are designed in an attempt to blend the graces of modern life with the beauty of the wilderness." Facilities can be reserved for one to seven night periods from mid April through October.

Points of interest in the area include the North Carolina Mineral Museum, Mineral and Gem Mines, Blue Ridge Parkway Scenic Overlooks, Crabtree and Linville Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain, two 18 hole golf courses and tennis nearby, and Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Rockies.

Wildacres is about 3 miles from the Little Switzerland post office. Nearest towns are Spruce Pine and Marion, NC. Access is available from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Gooch Gap, located between mileposts 336 and 337. Distance from Charlotte is about 112 miles.

By Fred R. Sias Jr., 1996

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