Many of the first formal schools in the Swannanoa Valley were funded by the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions in the mid- to late 1800s. Until the schools were consolidated in 1919, children who were able to attend school generally walked to the nearest one- or two-room schoolhouse. These small schools served communities throughout the Valley, including Bee Tree, Riceville and Christian Creek.
The consolidated school burned in the mid-1920s, and new schools were opened for students of different ages and grades. The above photo is the old Swannanoa High School, as it looked in 1953. Located on Old U.S. 70, the building still stands and is now home to Community High School, an alternative public school with students from all over Buncombe County.
In 1955, students from Swannanoa High School and Black Mountain High School began attending the new Charles D. Owen High School. Their mascot, the Warhorse, was created by combining Swannanoa’s mascot, the Warriors, with Black Mountain’s, the Dark Horses.
Editor’s Note: With permission of the author, the above is excerpted in part from the book “Images of America, Swannanoa,” by Anne E. Chesky Smith. The book is available for purchase at the Swannanoa Valley Museum, 223 West State Street, in Black Mountain. Cost is $22 ($20 for museum members). Photo courtesy of the Swannanoa Valley Museum.