The same year Montreat was being founded, Huyler was running this 1897 Christmas Ad for his Bonbons.


Huyler Advertising mirror circa the 1890s.


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


Candy worker circa 1904 at one of Huyler’s operations

Founding & Saving Montreat, 1897 – 1907


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

Untold was John S. Huyler’s pivotal 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.

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.


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 percent 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 operation, 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 similar 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.