We are excited to be able to announce, after several months of behind-the-scenes planning, fundraising, and negotiating, the launch of Davenant House, our permanent residential study center in the foothills of the Carolina Blue Ridge mountains. In the last week, our board finalized arrangements for the purchase of Laureldale Cottage, a beautiful log home that has long served as a vacation rental in the area, and which we have used in previous years for our Convivium Irenicum conference. We will also be acquiring a five-acre lot surrounding the cottage for gardening and recreational use, and have the option to rent the nearby Ridgeview House for our summer programs.
The acquisition of this property will enable us to take some dramatic new steps forward in renewing the minds of today’s churches and students with the wisdom of classical Protestantism. As valuable as the Internet has been in helping us to forge partnerships and disseminate resources across the US and indeed the world, we know that the best relationships are formed, and the best learning experiences happen, in face-to-face contexts. Each year at our Convivium Irenicum, we have been amazed by the friendships that have been formed and the vibrant exchange of ideas that have taken place in just three days at the cottage, which seemed uniquely well-suited to the purpose, and last summer we began to think about what else we might be able to achieve at the property.
The chief aim of Davenant House will be to provide a L’Abri-style residential study center for undergraduates and other young adults, initially for summer terms only, and eventually during the academic year as well. Students will come for work, rest, conversation, and study, gaining horticultural and landscaping skills on the beautiful surrounding woodland property in the mornings, while reading and engaging in Socratic discussions in the afternoons and evening. The course of study, although flexible depending on different students’ interests, will seek to provide a grounding in the rich tradition of classical Protestantism and how it provides the resources for faithful public engagement today. The great natural beauty and botanical diversity of the surrounding area will also provide opportunity for lessons in natural history and reflections on a Christian philosophy of nature.
However, we also envision other uses for the property outside of the residential study terms, including:
- A property which Davenant can use for small conferences, our Convivium Irenicum, Davenant Latin Institute residential courses, etc.
- A venue for churches in the region to reserve for sabbaticals, officer’s retreat, prayer retreat, etc.
- A focal point for nearby churches and institutions to come together for regular events—seminars, day-conferences, etc.
- A quiet study space which could be reserved for individual scholars to use for a time of focused study and writing.
Please spread the word about this exciting new extension of our ministry, and consider financially supporting us or donating books, as we still have a ways to go before meeting all of our goals.