Stephen Foster Collins, Fletcher
The memorial is one of a series of large granite mountain boulders, all about the same size but
of different shapes that comprise the “Open-Air Westminster Abbey of the South.” Each memorial contains a bronze plaque with date of birth and death and a statement about the person’s significance to southern culture or in some cases their relationship to Calvary Episcopal Church.
Images: Plaque | Rear view | View of memorials at "Westminster Abbey of the South"
Front: IN LOVING MEMORY / STEPHEN FOSTER COLLINS / COMPOSER OF / “SUWANEE RIVER,”
“OLD KENTUCKY HOME,” / “MASSA’S IN THE COLD GROUND,” “O SUSANNA,” / “OLD BLACK
JOE,” “NELLY BLY,” “OLD DOG TRAY,” / AND OTHER WELL KNOWN SONGS
BORN NEAR PITTSBURGH, P.A., JULY 4, 1826 / DIED IN NEW YORK CITY, JANUARY 13, 1864
Rear: ERECTED BY / CENTRAL / LABOR UNION / ASHEVILLE, N.C. / 1927
Calvary Episcopal Church
August 9, 1927
35.442600 , -82.503600 View in Geobrowse
"Westminster Abbey of South," Spartanburg Herald Journal (Spartanburg, SC) September 24, 1939, Link
Hicklin, J.B. “Elaborate Abbey to Immortalize South’s Leaders,” Forest City Courier (Forest City, NC), September 24, 1931, (accessed May 27, 2016) Link
Jenkins, Mark. “Historical Sketch of Calvary Episcopal Church,” (Calvary Parish, Fletcher, 1959) Link
“Calvary Church, Fletcher, N.C. Between Asheville and Hendersonville,” in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (PO77), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Link
“Dixie Songs” The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH), August 10, 1927
“Fletcher Markers,” The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.org, (accessed May 25, 2016) Link
“Foster, Stephen C., Memorial To,” E. M. Ball Photographic Collection (1918-1969) D. H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville, 28804 Link
“People & Events: Stephen Foster Collins, 1826-1824,” from American Experience, http://www.pbs.org, (accessed June 16, 2016) Link
“Unveil Tablet To Stephen Foster,” The Bee (Danville, Virginia), August 9, 1927
Central Labor Union
William Green, President of the American Federation of Labor, gave the principal address. The only music played (other than “America”) at the opening ceremony were songs written by Collins. These included "My Old Kentucky Home,” "Swanee River," "Old Black Joe," and "Massa's in de Cold, Cold Ground."
Stephen Foster sought to reform black-face minstrelsy, the most pervasive and powerful force in antebellum American popular culture. He sought to humanize the characters in his songs and to convey a sense that all people - regardless of their ethnic identities or social and economic class - share the same longings and needs for family and home. He instructed white performers not to mock slaves but to get their audiences to feel compassion.
Calvary Episcopal Church is located at 2840 Hendersonville Road, at
its intersection with Old Airport Road in Fletcher, NC.
Eighteen “Open-Air Westminster Abbey of the South” markers stand in two rows in a lawn area facing Old Airport Road to the right of the church. The Robert E. Lee Dixie Highway is located near the street facing Hendersonville Road. One memorial to Bill Nye is in the church cemetery and the second memorial to Bill Nye is on the front lawn of the church. The Calvary Episcopal Church marker stands near the sanctuary.
This memorial is one of eighteen “Open-Air Westminster Abbey of the South” markers that stand in two rows in a lawn area to the right of the church.
This memorial and the seventeen others now standing along Old Airport Road were originally located in a landscaped plot along Hendersonville Road (Highway 25) directly in front of the cemetery. It is likely they had to be relocated when the road was widened to four lanes.