1910s

The 1910s were a time of change for the United States, with the first World War, strikes, and the approval of prohibition.  It was also and important decade for Crown College, with the Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor Rev. J.D. Williams creating the school in 1916.  In addition, the school’s original campus was built and the first class graduated (with just five students!).

A School is Born

It was in 1916 when a farmer came to the door of a pastor and his wife (J.D. and Harriet Williams) and said, “I am here for you to teach me the word of God.”  In response, Rev. and Mrs. Williams started teaching Bible classes to him, three other boarding students and 40 students in the evening.  On October 13, 1916 J.D. Williams took the first steps towards creating an official school, which was called the Alliance Training Home.

First Campus Construction

In March of 1917, the first campus started its construction process.  Located at 1635 Sherburne Avenue in St. Paul, it was ready in time for the school’s second year.  Complete with offices, a chapel, dining room, dormitories, and more, the first campus became a spiritual and study haven for students for almost two decades.

Also in 1917, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Dr. A. B. Simpson, visited the new campus.  In a missionary meeting on campus, Dr. Simpson spoke about the history of the Alliance and the importance of having a spiritually strong center.  Nearly 100 years later, Crown College continues to be a Christ-centered school with strong ties to the Alliance.

Tabernacle Construction

The Tabernacle was constructed behind the main campus building in 1918.  Nicknamed the ‘Glory Barn,’ the Tabernacle was a gathering place for special services and Sunday evening services.  Over 2,000 people could fit inside at once!  This was the era of big tent revivals and students gained a lot of practical experience from the meetings held at the Tabernacle.  When the Tabernacle was torn down in 1937, Simpson Memorial Church was built in its place and continued to be a central feature in students’ spiritual lives.

First Graduating Class

The first class to graduate did so in 1918, after completing the two-year program.  There were a total of five students: Harold Freliegh, Ira Root, Ella Holsted, Ezra Gerig, and Grace Johnson.  Ezra Gerig was the farmer who, in 1916, asked J.D. Williams to teach him about God’s word (which inspired the school’s formation).  Ezra continued on to be a pastor in Oregon.  Ira Root also became a pastor, but came back to his alma mater in 1939 to be the caretaker.  Harold Freliegh stayed at the school as a teacher and later as a principal, and even married his former classmate Ella Holsted!

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