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Eliada Homes, Inc.
2 Compton Dr. P.O. Box 16708
Asheville, NC 28816
Phone: (828) 254-5356
Founded in 1903, Eliada Homes, Inc. is a non-profit agency serving the children and families of Western North Carolina.
Originally a refuge for women and children and later maintained as an orphanage, Eliada’s services now include Residential and Day Treatment for high risk children and adolescents; Child Development Center services, including Day Care, Summer Camp and School Age care; Foster Care and Therapeutic Foster Care; Therapeutic Recreation featuring TASC (Therapeutic Animal Stewardship Cooperative) and NYPUM (National Youth Project Using Minibikes); and Community Support services.
Eliada Homes strives to meet community needs in innovative ways, remaining committed to the fulfillment of its mission statement: Helping Children Succeed. Eliada’s vision is to provide an optimal learning environment that empowers children and their families to succeed.
Note: Eliada’s historic records are archived at UNCA’s D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections repository. Access some of these records online here.
Eliada was founded in 1903 by Reverend Lucius B. Compton as a home for unwed mothers. Later, he expanded Eliada to include an orphanage. As time went on and the needs of the community grew, so did Eliada.
The names Dr. Lucius B. Compton and Eliada are almost synonymous. There would be no Eliada today if it were not for Dr. Compton’s vision, faith and desire to reach out to a disenfranchised segment of society: unwed mothers. The time was 1903 and the place was Asheville, North Carolina. With very little money, Lucius Compton rented a house in Asheville as a safe and short-term haven for these girls and women. He named this house (the first of five such homes) Faith Cottage. He depended on God to provide the monthly rent for Faith Cottage. Although he was able to finally purchase a permanent home to be Faith Cottage, this dependence on providential care would continue throughout his life and ministry. The last Faith Cottage was built on Victoria Road in 1957 and closed its doors in 1971. All together, these five homes reached out to help several thousand women.
It didn’t take long for the number of children not kept by their mothers to exceed the capacity of the various Faith Cottages. Dr. Compton dreamed of finding a permanent home with land for these babies and toddlers. By 1906 he located a small cabin with a few acres of land located about five miles west of Asheville. His daughter Mary Elizabeth writes, “I don’t know what he paid for the house. I think he paid $1.00 an acre for the land—complete with beautiful pine and hardwood trees, and probably more weeds and blackberry bushes than he wanted.” It was at this time that Dr. Compton named the home Eliada. Eliada was one of King David’s sons; the Hebrew word means “one for whom God cares.”
As time went on, Dr. Compton became a well known preacher along the Eastern seaboard and inland. Not only did he attract crowds of people each year for the summer camp meetings, but he received many requests to preach throughout the country. It was at one such meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio that he was to meet his future wife, Edith Van Dusen from New York. Together they would become known as Dad Compton and Mama Edith to several thousand children. They even adopted a baby girl left on their doorstep, when he was 61 and Mama Edith was 55. Mary Elizabeth still marvels at their courage. Over the years, dedicated individuals from many states and walks of life came and served the children. Several of these venerable matrons are buried on Slippey Mountain along with the babies and children who passed away while in care here.
As the years went by many miraculous things happened. Never blessed with large donations, faith seemed the way Eliada was destined to grow. More land was bought and donated (including a farm) until the campus swelled to over 1200 acres. The acreage included Slippey Mountain, upon which a large reservoir was built in 1914; a small lake in which kids swam for years; rolling hills where the hay was baled each year; and a great view of the Biltmore Estate on a clear day. Buildings were quickly added: the Old Main was built in 1908 and burned down in 1914 (the fate of many of the wooden structures built on the campus); the school and chapel were built in 1911; the first telephone was installed in 1913; a new Main Building – the Big House – was constructed in 1915; a wood-covered amphitheater with seating for 2,500 and used for the tent meetings was constructed in 1917; and the main barn was built along with two others in 1927-1928 after the first one burned. The fireproof Allred building, which served as the baby house, was completed in 1930, and along with the Green Buildin, the Barn is currently listed in the National Historic Register.
During these years the children and staff maintained “The Farm” in a variety of ways. Together they bottled and sold milk from Dr. Compton’s prize Guernsey cows. They kept chickens, sold eggs, grew much of their food, canned and pickled the produce, and helped with the maintenance of the land and buildings. This continued throughout the 1970′s, and returning alumni still refer to Eliada as “The Farm.”
When Dr. Compton passed away in 1948, his long-time assistant, Miss Grace Green, helped to guide the agency for the next six years and authored a biography of Dr. Compton titled The Pilgrim from the Hills. She is still fondly remembered by alumni who lived here from the 1930’s through the mid- 1950’s. The present day Tabernacle was built in her honor and in honor of Mr. A.J. Garner III, a former board member.
In 1956, Mr. Archibald H. Cameron became the agency’s director. An engineer and educator, Mr. Cameron began an extensive building period that resulted in the construction of five residences outlining the main part of campus. Mr. Cameron’s contribution to Eliada marked a shift from the orphanage/dormitory setting to a more family oriented residential care run by house parents. Competitive sports, 4-H, academics, and religious training were all emphasized.
In 1981, Mr. J. Stewart Humphrey became the Executive Director. Mr. Humphrey’s experience as a church pastor and director of FWB Children’s Home, along with his graduate degree in Childcare Administration, served him well during his 20-year career at Eliada. Mr. Humphrey set the standard in Asheville for serving, housing, and equipping homeless families transitioning into independent living through the Alternative for Families program. During his tenure, the MANNA food bank was begun on Eliada’s campus; the PAL or Preparation for Adult Living program was begun for children leaving our Level III program; Eliada’s Child Development center was opened; and many renovations of cottages, roads, and other buildings were completed, including the renovation of the long defunct shop building into the School Age/Summer Camp Building. Thus a profound philosophical and practical shift from residential care to a mental health facility occurred and Eliada’s continuum of care was born. Eliada also attained national accreditation through the Council on Accreditation (COA) during this period.
Mr. Mark Upright became the President/CEO in 2002. His diverse degrees in accounting, law, human resources, and mental health have equipped him to confidently guide this agency into its second hundred years of operation. His RISE Program for newly graduated college students in intern positions has proved both financially prudent and beneficial to the Residential program. Mr. Upright also oversaw the conversion of Eliada’s campus to serve children and adolescents through Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) care. Thanks to this conversion, Eliada is able to offer a new hope for the most vulnerable young people in the mental health system. Under Mr. Upright’s leadership we approach the future with hope, optimism, and a renewed enthusiasm for our mission: Helping Children Succeed.
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