Dorland Memorial Presbyterian Church

Right on Bridge Street in the heart of the town of Hot Springs is one of the town’s buildings which is on the National Register of Historic Places (1986).Dorland Memorial Presbyterian Church (at the corner of Bridge Street and Meadow) was built in 1900 for the cost of $4000, the money paid by friends of Dr. Luke Dorland. His widow, Juliette, wanted the church to honor his memory and worked hard toward that goal. The Dorlands established Dorland School in the late 1890s when they moved to the area and the school had a 45-year history eventually merging with Bell Institute from Walnut and later forming the foundation for Warren Wilson College in Asheville. The cornerstone of one of the original buildings was saved and incorporated into the church.

The dedication was a four-day event with ceremonies which included visitors not only from Asheville but from out of state. Ministers from both “Northern” and “Southern” Presbyterian churches spoke. The architect was Richard Sharp Smith who had designed Biltmore Estate in Asheville and stayed in the area to design many other structures (including the Madison County Courthouse in Marshall). An Asheville reporter commented that “the new church is indeed a beauty and is quite an ornamental addition to the town.” The stained glass windows are inscribed “in memoriam” to the Dorlands, and many of their friends and church officials.

Information about Dorland Church was provided by Jacqueline Burgin Painter, a native of Hot Springs, who has written The Season of Dorland-Bell: History of an Appalachian Mission School, a wonderful recounting of the history of the school and a glimpse into the life in the small town of Hot Springs and An Appalachian Medley: Hot Springs and the Gentry Family.