Ellen G. White Writings

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Ellen G. White: The Later Elmshaven Years: 1905-1915 (vol. 6), Page 177

successful starting of the Avondale school in Australia in a country location, both Ellen White and conference constituency thought in terms of moving the college away from a crowded town to a place where the students would have “more opportunity to engage in agriculture, carpentering, and other lines of manual work” (Letter 141, 1904). At the California Conference session held in February, 1908, a comprehensive resolution was passed calling for the disposal of the school properties in Healdsburg and establishing “an industrial college” in the country that would provide work for students and “furnish at least the agricultural and dairy products necessary for the college home” (Pacific Union Recorder, February 27, 1908). The Educational Society, which carried legal control, took official action to this effect three weeks later on March 19.

It was hoped that a property could be located rather quickly so that it could open in the fall on the new site. Consequently conference officials and Ellen White and her staff were on the constant lookout for a suitable place, perhaps with a building on it that could be put to immediate use. At the well-attended Oakland camp meeting in early June, a special session of the California Conference was called. Here on June 9, after considerable discussion and a divided vote, plans to close Healdsburg College were approved and a committee of seven appointed to search for a new site. W. C. White, as well as conference officers, was on this committee. From time to time various sites were examined. In August, a property near Sonoma came to the attention of conference officers. This property, two or three miles north of the town of Sonoma, consisted of 2,900 acres of land, hills, mountains, valleys, and flatlands. On it was a spacious three-story, thirty-eight room mansion called “The Castle” (36 WCW, p. 725; S. N. Haskell to EGW, August 13, 1908). Since the property was less than a mile from a tiny Western Pacific Railway station called Buena Vista, that was the name used in designating it for inspections and negotiations. The estate had been developed by a millionaire, a Mr. Johnson, about twenty-five years earlier, but soon after he had built and furnished the house, and landscaped the grounds with ornamental and fruit trees, he died. His heir squandered his inherited fortune, and the property was sold at auction. Currently it was owned by a

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