In April 1882, the Sunday School Convention of Tennessee sought to establish a Sunday School Congress for the following summer. On October 4, 1882, the charter was drawn for Monteagle Sunday School Assembly. The Board then selected a site, laid out the grounds, and planned a program. Monteagle Sunday School Assembly opened its first session on July 17, 1883. The Assembly was an immediate success although few comforts were available that first summer; a restaurant and amphitheater were the only permanent structures on the Grounds. An ambitious building program soon resulted in scores of boarding houses, public meeting rooms, and private cottages to accommodate the thousands who visited the Assembly every summer.
Where we began
For a number of years, until southern colleges and universities began to offer summer courses on campus, schools at the Assembly were very popular. At one time at least 19 different schools of courses were available, from ancient languages to music. School teachers from across the South thronged to Monteagle to attend classes that would broaden their educational experience.
In those early years, the Assembly maintained close ties to Chautauqua Institution at Chautauqua, New York, the first Assembly established. Their goal was to combine the training of Sunday school teachers with a broader program of educational and cultural pursuits. The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle held annual graduation ceremonies for southern students at the Assembly, the recognized southern headquarters for C.L.S.C. In the early 1900s, through a coalition with other Assemblies (International Chautauqua Alliance), Monteagle Sunday School Assembly presented nationally known lectures, ministers, and entertainers in the Auditorium.
World War I, the Depression, and World War II took their tolls on Monteagle Sunday School Assembly. Fewer people meant declining revenues; many programs were discontinued; some cottages stayed vacant year after year.
The 1960s and ’70s brought a reawakening of interest in Monteagle and its programs. Families re-opened and repaired cottages; the Endowment Fund provided the means for rejuvenation of the platform programs and other activities. Many old programs were updated, and new ideas were introduced. The 1980s and especially the Centennial Celebration in 1982 brought active interest and participation in the Assembly and its programs.
Today, Monteagle continues to honor its charter and history with varied religious, educational, and cultural programs and activities. Warren Chapel, the heart of Assembly life, is located on the Mall in the center of the Assembly. In addition to all religious programs held here, the Chapel is used for lectures and programs for the platform. Assembly Members affirm their commitment to fulfill the purposes of the Charter by their support of all these programs.