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Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5)

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    The Paradise Valley Property

    Dr. T. S. Whitelock, who practiced in San Diego, had discovered this place in the spring of 1902. There were twenty acres of land and a building with nearly fifty rooms. The whole place could be obtained for $20,000. He eventually succeeded in getting the price down to $15,000. Officers of the Southern California Conference had visited this property and one at Pacific Beach, but felt that the Potts institution was the better buy. Nonetheless, they were not ready to devote conference funds to purchase it. In September, 1902, the manager of the Land and Town Company of National City became interested in the sanitarium project and took up correspondence with a Mr. Harrison in New York City, who held mortgages on the Potts property. They were able to reduce the price to $12,000.5BIO 361.4

    This was the same month that Ellen White visited the property for the first time. She declared, according to Dr. Whitelock, “‘If this place were fixed up, it ...[would look] just like what was shown me of the Lord.’”—DF 2a, T. S. Whitelock, “History of the Paradise Valley Sanitarium,” p. 2.5BIO 362.1

    Ellen White returned to her home at Elmshaven with no decisions made and no steps taken to secure the Potts property. The conference brethren felt they were not prepared to move forward.5BIO 362.2

    At that time the Southern California Conference included all the southern part of the State south of the Tehachapi Mountains. The church had 1,100 believers there, but as the result of poor management a debt of $40,000 hung over the conference. Also, this was during the period when consideration was being given to the ownership, control, and management of sanitarium properties throughout North America. Those that had already been established were under the control of the International Medical Missionary and Benevolent Association, over which Dr. Kellogg was so influential. With rifts developing at Battle Creek, it did not seem a good time to become involved in the securing of more sanitarium properties. However, Ellen White continued to watch the developments with interest and urged that appropriate steps be taken. Possibly the delay of the brethren was in the providence of God, for in June, 1903, the mortgages on the Potts property were offered to the church for $8,000 (Ibid., 3). To some, the hesitancy of the brethren to secure this property was the occasion for great distress. Leaders came and looked at it and declared that it was good, but went away with grave doubts concerning the future of that part of California, which was suffering a prolonged, severe drought. Properties were being offered at almost giveaway figures.5BIO 362.3

    In January, 1904, Dr. Whitelock visited the property again. While he was there, a woman drove up and met them in the buildings. She introduced herself as a friend of the Mr. Harrison who held the mortgages. When Dr. Whitelock gave his name, she said, “You are the very one I wanted to see. I have been requested by Mr. Harrison to see you and get an offer on the mortgages.” Then she intimated that she thought if church leaders were ready to buy, probably $6,000 would close the deal.5BIO 362.4

    Still, the conference felt it could not invest money in the enterprise. When word reached Ellen White, she consulted with a close friend, Josephine Gotzian, who had some means, and then telegraphed Dr. Whitelock to offer $4,000 for the mortgages. On January 25 this offer was telegraphed to New York; on the twenty-seventh an answer was returned accepting the offer. A down payment was made to hold the property until the titles could be thoroughly investigated.5BIO 363.1

    It was later learned that another party had offered Mr. Harrison, by letter, $6,000; the letter reached him in New York City only a few hours after the telegraphed offer of $4,000 had been accepted. The Potts property now belonged to Seventh-day Adventists, but not to the Southern California Conference.5BIO 363.2

    Wrote Ellen White:5BIO 363.3

    We are now beginning to see carried out the purposes of the Lord for this field.... For a long time, however, the medical missionary work in southern California was at a standstill, because of the unbelief of some. Suitable properties were found, but the brethren in responsibility would not advance.

    A special opportunity came to us in the form of a property a few miles south of San Diego known as the Potts Sanitarium. The Lord had manifestly prepared the way for us to begin sanitarium work at this point; and when the wheel of providence turned in our favor, and the property came within our reach, we felt as if we must act without further delay, notwithstanding the hesitancy of brethren in responsibility, who should have been quick to discern the advantages of this place as a center for medical missionary work.—Special Testimonies, Series B 14:4, 5.5BIO 363.4

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