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The Presbyterian Home for Children was founded by Dr. Robert Perry Smith in 1904 at the Mountain Orphanage in a four room cottage at Crab Tree, near Canton, North Carolina. Dr. Smith, a Columbia Theological Seminary graduate and President of Presbyterian College, had become Superintendent of Asheville Presbytery in 1898 During his travels in wagons, on horseback or muleback, this "Shepherd of the Hills" was moved by the plight of homeless children in the home mission area. Mountain Orphanage was built to serve the tremendous need in the area to provide for children who for the most part had no parents. In order to be a resident at the Home, they had to have a Presbyterian sponsor. The members of that church would, in a sense, "adopt" the child, giving them Christmas gifts, regular allowances, even taking the child home on weekends and vacations.
With time, the need to care for more children soon outgrew the facilities, and the Orphanage moved to a larger space in the Balfour area of Hendersonville. By the early 1920's these facilities also proved too small and a final move took place to the present location in the Swannanoa Valley near Black Mountain. All but one of the current campus buildings were constructed in the 1920's. By the time the Home moved to Black Mountain, most of the children were recommended through an informal network of Presbyterians. In 1993, the Home was licensed by the North Carolina Department of Human Services. This license allows North Carolina counties to refer children to the Home. Today, many of the children come through county departments of Social Services referrals, although private placements are still significant.
Over the years, our mission has expanded to include children whose parents are both alive. Parents may be physically or mentally incapacitated, addicted to drugs, physically or otherwise sexually abusive, in jail, or may be no longer able to cope with the demands of parenting.