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Montreat History Spotlight
This page will change frequently to provide highlights into the history of Montreat, its conferences, people and its heritage. Click for more Montreat photos (being developed).

The Man Who Saved Montreat —
John S. Huyler, The Candy King

The Oct. 2, 1910 New York Times headline blared: "Millionaire Candy Manufacturer and Philanthropist Passes Away."

Untold was John S. Huyler's privotal role in founding and saving Montreat, as well as passing it to the control of the Presbyterian Church.

A lifelong Methodist, John S. Huyler (shown right circa 1905) was born in New York City on June 26, 1846. His father, David Huyler operated a bakery in Greenwich Village (apparently on Jane Street) and the family lived over the store. Educated in public schools, Huyler went to work at his father's store around 1863.

Working on his own to develop an old-fashioned molasses candy, John S. Huyler opened his first store in 1876 on 18th Street in New York City. A few years later he opened three additional shops — another in Manhattan, one in Brooklyn, and one in Albany. Huyler's candy had started its rise to national prominence. When he died on October 1, 1910, Huyler had 54 stores across America, supplied by his 14 candy factories employing about 2,000 people.

Above is a candy worker circa 1904 at one of Huyler's operations.

In Spring 1883, Milton Hershey started working at Huyler & Company. By 1885, Hershey had moved back to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and started what would make him the 20th Century Candy King — Hershey's Chocolate.

Montreat & The Candy King
John S. Huyler was well known to the Rev. John C. Collins of new Haven, Connecticut. When Collins went looking for financial support to create his mountain retreat for Christian workers, he turned to Huyler and William H. Wannamaker for funds. Both were named incorporators in the original Mountain Retreat Association (MRA). Huyler served on the MRA board from 1897 to 1907.

Huyler was well-known for tithing at least 10 per cent of his income to charity and religious causes each year.

When Collins stepped down as MRA President, Huyler was named to the post on Nov. 30, 1899. Huyler was active in visiting Montreat during the first decade of opereration, but Collins handled the programming from 1897 - 1899, with Weston R. Gales taking over as General Manager and program developer during the 1899 - 1902 period.

As part of efforts to improve the Montreat experience, Huyler started construction of the Hotel Montreat in 1900, which opened for visitors by summer 1901 (shown below in early 1900s). Previously, conference attendees only had options of staying in tents or boarding in one of the few houses at the property.

After Gales died in 1902, Huyler appointed different leaders for each year's summer conferences, while he tried to find a director or buyer for the property. Because of his investments, the board had given him a mortgage on the property, except for those lots already sold. Huyler offered to sell his mortgage to the board if it would commit to completing the conference center, but the board took no action.

On August 6, 1904, Huyler and the board considered a proposal to have the Rev. Wilber Chapman, head of the Winona Lake, Illinois, religious conference center ("The World's Largest Bible Conference" at the time) to run Montreat with conferences similiar to those at Northfield, Massachusetts. Nothing was ever implemented from this proposal.

After these efforts, Huyler discussed selling the property in 1904 or 1905 as a conference ground for the Young Men's Christian Association, but the group turned down the concept, because it objected to private property owners on the conference center grounds.

In 1905, Huyler responded to a proposal by the Rev. J. R. Howerton, First Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, North Carolina, to have the Synod of North Carolina take over the ownership and operation of Montreat. The agreement was fully implemented in 1907 (see articles at right).

For previous Spotlights on Montreat History, click below
Early Missionaries at Montreat
1897 - 1907 Montreat Summer Religious Conferences
1897 - 1902 Leading Mountain Retreat —
          John C. Collins & Weston Gales
1897 - 1907 Founding & Saving Montreat — John S. Huyler
The Lake: the Lure & Lore of Montreat's Dam
Early Businesses in Montreat (1899 - 1915)
Historical Foundation
MRA Presidents/Executive Directors
Montreat Musicals
Current Month's Montreat History Spotlight

The same year Montreat was being founded, Huyler was running this 1897 Christmas Ad for his Bonbons. Below is a Huyler Advertising mirror circa the 1890s.

Huyler's Candy Factory, 18th Street & Irving Place,
New York City, circa 1906 drawing from photo.

Above photos courtesy of ResolutionArchives.

Reports on the transfer to Presbyterians were noted in the January 9, 1907, edition of The Washington Post (note the copy editor made the community's name Montreal),
as well as in the June 3, 1907, article from
The New York Times (below).

© 2007. Presbyterian Heritage Center at Montreat.
PO Box 207, Montreat, NC 28757

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