History + Heritage

The Crown Story

Crown College was started as a small Bible college in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1916. For over 100 years, Crown has focused on preparing students to live out their faith in the world.

Now located 40 minutes west of the Twin Cities, we offer on-campus, online, and graduate degree programs. We have 18 NCAA Division III athletic teams, internship opportunities, and summer outreach programs around the globe.

Though a lot has changed, our dedication to helping students grow in their faith has not. Our programs deeply integrate a Christian worldview into every class, helping students to become all that God desires them to be. We look forward to the next 100 years as we continue to innovate Christian higher education.

Explore the Story

History Timeline

Humble beginnings with Rev. J.D. Williams

It was 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.


We got a shiny new campus on Sherburne Ave.

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 boldly Christian school with strong ties to the Alliance.


3rd President was inaugurated, Reverend E.C. Swanson.


He was instrumental in the move to the Englewood Ave. Campus.


4th President was inaugurated, Reverend J.A. Peterson.


While keeping up with his Alliance district work. He personally supervised many of the updates that the Englewood Campus needed before students could move in on time.


New Englewood campus was purchased

One of the biggest changes in the thirties for the school was a campus move. The first campus, built in 1917 on Sherburne Avenue, was not going to be able to meet the needs of the growing student body much longer. A Lutheran Seminary building on Englewood Avenue was purchased and a move was made in the summer of 1935. The large, red, brick building was located on spacious grounds and eventually became known as “Old Main.” This new campus – with its chapel, dormitories, classrooms, and room to build – suited the needs of the school for decades.


Our name changed to St. Paul Bible Institute

The simple name of the school, “Alliance Training Home,” was changed in 1922 to the “St. Paul Training School of the Christian Missionary Alliance.” Enrollment fluctuated, influenced by everything from the stock market crash to late harvests. Tuition was $12 a semester and room and board was $6 a week. In 1936 we became “Saint Paul Bible Institute” to better reflect our mission.


5th President was inaugurated, Reverend Dr. George Strohm.


He served for sixteen years, the longest term out of all the presidents to date.


Our Board of Trustees was formed

In 1943, Dr. G.D. Strohm became the fifth president of the college. He served for sixteen years – the longest term out of all the presidents to date. The motto used by the school during this time, “Vision, Training, Service,” was created by Dr. Strohm.

Also in 1943, it was decided to form a distinct group, the Board of Trustees, to govern the institution instead of the Christian Missionary Alliance. Louis King (later to be a president of the C&MA) and A.W. Tozer were just a couple of members who served on the board during this time.


We started men’s and women’s basketball teams

The 1950s brought organized sports for both men and women.  Men’s basketball started in 1956 and women’s basketball started in 1958. The women’s teams competed with other colleges long before Title IX programs mandated it.

The mascot Crusaders, to indicate crusading for Christ, was chosen at student initiative. The symbolism was that of bearing the cross for and of Christ in every area of life.


6th President was inaugurated, Reverend Dr. Harry Hardwick.


His years as president of St. Paul began in 1959 and extended into 1968, years of strong accomplishment. Dr. Hardwick memorized the name of each student and made sure every staff member felt appreciated.


7th President was inaugurated, Reverend Dr. Donald Trouten.


During his service, perhaps the most momentous event in St. Paul’s history occurred: the purchase of the St. Bonifacius campus.


The “Miracle Campus” was purchased in St. Boni

After the Arden Hills Project lost momentum, other alternatives were explored. One of them was a Jesuit College for sale in the town of St. Bonifacius, a suburb of the Twin Cities. The main building had only been built ten years before and held 175,000 square feet of room within its cross shape.

In September 1969, papers were signed to purchase the 173-acre campus for $3.1 million on an 8% contract for deed. The faculty showed their faith in the move by immediately purchasing houses in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota.

It was indeed a “Miracle Campus” amazingly suited to the needs of St. Paul Bible College. The facilities already in place and the room to expand would serve the needs of the students for decades to come!


8th President was inaugurated, Reverend Dr. Arthur Johnston.


He provided leadership in the last months on the 1361 Englewood campus and the first days in St. Bonifacius.


9th President was inaugurated, Reverend Dr. Francis Grubbs.


His administration was characterized by the greatest growth numerically the College had ever seen.


Strohm and Richardson Hall were built

Because the College had grown so much in the years since the move to St. Bonifacius, additional dormitory facilities were needed. In 1974, a unit to the west on “the Hill,” later named Hardwick Hall, was constructed to serve as housing for single men. In 1976, Strohm Hall, a women’s dorm located on the east side of the campus, was erected to house over 90 women. The following year, its twin, Richardson Hall, was constructed next door.

A friend of the College donated property and a home on Tabor Lake in northern Wisconsin in 1977. This site was used by the College for small retreats and family gatherings.


10th President was inaugurated, Reverend Dr. Joseph Tewinkel ’57.


He had been a part of the College since he was hired at the age of 21. During his time he taught classes, painted hallways, directed choirs, coached teams and directed the athletic department.


11th President was inaugurated, Reverend Dr. John Eagen.


Eagen was 34 years of age at his inauguration, the youngest president in the history of the institution.


Our football program started

The athletics program continued to be an important aspect of college life. The official start of the football program in 1984 provided an exciting element to college life.

A new stadium to seat 500 fans was constructed and gave the football team, called the Crusaders, a place to compete.


12th President was inaugurated, Reverend Dr. Bill Lanpher.


Lanpher came to the Crown staff as vice president for student development in 1985, at which post he served for two years. The College moved strongly into the use of computer technology under the President’s direction.


We changed our name to "Crown College"

Since moving the campus to St. Bonifacius, there had been confusion over the school being called St. Paul Bible College. There were also questions over whether “Bible College” accurately represented the broadened course offerings. A committee was selected to look at the problem and come up with possible alternatives. President Lanpher, inspired by spiritual and heavenly crowns, suggested Crown College.

So, in 1992, the name of the school was changed to Crown College!


13th President was inaugurated, Reverend Dr. Gary Benedict ’72.


Achievements included the new athletic center, student union, and the development of the online program. HE very memorably rode into his first chapel on a motorcycle.


Crown Online was born, offering fully online degrees

In 1999, Crown offered its first online course. This would be the beginning of a successful online school, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees to students around the world!

Also in 1999, the Honors Program was initiated. Accepting exceptional students, the Honors Program features educational opportunities, collaborations with faculty, and additional scholarships.


The Wild Athletic Center was built

The old gym at Crown College was not suiting the needs of the students anymore. Seating was inadequate for fans, and the athletes themselves were short on space.

So in response, a brand new gym facility was constructed in 2000. Called the Wild Athletic Center, the new facility has two side-by-side basketball courts, retractable bleachers seating 400, and a suspended running track.


14th President was inaugurated, Mr. Timothy D. Savaloja.


Having served as CFO of the college since 1997, he had the knowledge and strength to lead the college while a search was conducted for the fifteenth president.


15th President was inaugurated, Reverend Dr. Richard P. Mann.


Dr. Mann had experience as a missionary in China, held a Ph.D., and had been academic dean at Crown since 2000.


Library Renovations

In 2006, the library underwent extensive renovations to accommodate the need for more space and necessary updating. Previously only occupying the North Wing, the library expanded into the West Wing and doubled its square footage. New shelves and carpet were installed, as well as a computer lab and study rooms.

The library is one of the most popular places on campus. Comfortable couches abound, rows of computers are ready for use, collaborative study rooms are quiet, a long list of technology is available for checkout, the staff is always eager to help, and there’s a stunning view of the pond.


16th President was inaugurated, Reverend Dr. Joel P. Wiggins ’76.


He brought a variety of experience, including pastoral work and time spent in the entrepreneurial business world. At Crown, Dr. Wiggins emphasized the importance of building relationships and launched the church residency program across the nation.


The KleinBank Stadium opened for games

Crown College and KleinBank announced the latest achievement of their nearly 30-year relationship – KleinBank Stadium. The new complex, which opened September 6-7, 2013, was made possible because of KleinBank’s sizable donation. The $2.4 million project has seating on both sides and holds more than 1,300 fans. In addition, the field features state-of-the-art synthetic turf, lights for evening games, and a press box with full audio and video streaming capabilities.


KleinBank Stadium changed name to Old National Bank Stadium

Crown College is home to some of the best athletic facilities in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. Our 212-acre campus is home to Old National Bank Stadium, an all-turf outdoor facility that is home to Crown’s football and soccer teams. The newest of Crown’s athletic facilities, Old National Bank Stadium opened in the fall of 2013 (under the original name “KleinBank Stadium”) with an over-capacity crowd of 1,421 people in attendance for the inaugural football game under the lights to celebrate the beginning of the 2013 Crown Football season. With home and visitor seating, 360-degree lighting, and a state-of-the-art press box, Old National Bank Stadium is perfect for hosting team practices, summer tournaments, or big-time high school football and soccer games.


We launched a new mascot.

Spring of 2020, during the worldwide pandemic, Crown announced their new mascot to the graduating seniors: Storm, the Polar Bear. Crown College’s mascot has been Storm since 2002, but the selection committee has been working toward choosing a new icon for several years. The new identity leans into our winter wonderland and provides athletics with a fresh new look.

With the turn of a new decade comes a new mascot to represent the pride of the Crownies. The Crown College Storm will return to the fields and courts this fall — this time with Storm the Polar Bear leading the fans in spirit and exclamation.


New President

17th President was inaugurated, Reverend Dr. Andrew C. Denton. With 15 years of executive leadership in Christian Higher Education before coming to Crown, Dr. Denton used his experience to bring a new level of excellence to the community, emphasizing the student experience. He is committed to Crown's roots and keeping the institution as a Boldly Christian College. During his first year, he led the school in 7 capital projects on campus, the first groundbreaking in over 2 decades, a restructure into a 3 school model in the traditional undergraduate programs, relaunching of the Honors Program, and overall enrollment growth.


Completed 8 major renovations

Eight capital projects transformed Crown campus — Benedict Student Center, Wiggins Welcome Center, Dining Center, Simpson Auditorium, Locker rooms, Weight room, Faith Village, and SPBI Hall.


Opened residence hall

Crown College built and opened SPBI Hall, the first new building in over two decades. SPBI Hall was named to honor the legacy of St. Paul Bible Institute


Visit our Alumni Page

Heritage + Purpose

Crown College + The Christian And Missionary Alliance

From the very beginning in 1916, Crown College has been aligned with the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination. While students attending Crown come from many different church denominations, Crown is one of four Christian and Missionary Alliance colleges in the United States. Today, more than five million Christians from 81 different countries call themselves “Alliance.”

The Alliance is a light-bearing, Jesus-centered missions and church-planting movement with deeper life at its heart. Instead of being a denomination intent on building its own kingdom, the Alliance is a people who take action out of love for Jesus Christ that compels them to fulfill His last command on earth: The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).