Berry College, which sits on the nation's largest campus, was founded by Martha Berry. Using her land and inheritance, this remarkable woman dedicated her life to providing an education for mountain children. She attracted support from numerous philanthropists, among them Henry Ford. There is an anecdote which recounts her visit with Henry Ford and her plea for money. After hearing her out, Ford patiently explained that though he had a wealth of money, he also received many requests for funding, 'if I gave money to everyone who comes to me, I'd soon have none left.' As the disappointed Berry turned to leave, Ford, as a lark, tossed her a quarter. Less than two years later Berry sent Ford a letter along with several hundred dollars, which she claimed was a return on his investment. Amused, he contacted her for an explanation. She explained, she had used the 25 cents to purchase seed corn which was planted and tended for two seasons by the mountain children. Needless to say, she got some money- a lot more than she had hoped for. Ford became a staunch supporter of Berry. The Ford building, which was funded by Ford is still in use today.
The college campus resembles a park. The chapel is a work of art which is often booked for weddings. The old grist mill, still in working condition, is a scenic picnic spot. The college has among other industries, its own dairy herd. The college gift shop overflows with crafts, manufactured by current students. The weaving shop turns out beautifully woven, handloomed items. I purchased a natural fiber shawl, woven in a rainbow of soft pastel colors for less than $100. We also bought childrens wooden toys and puzzles for $2-4 each.
It seems odd to think of a college campus as being a tourist site, but Berry College is visited by thousands each year.