BRETHREN HISTORICAL LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES
Title: Blue Ridge College Purchase
Boxes: 1 small legal size Hollinger box
History: The Maryland Collegiate Institute was established in Union Bridge, Maryland, by the German Baptist Brethren with approval of the Eastern Maryland District Conference in 1899. In 1910, the institutional name of was changed to Blue Ridge College and two years later industrial development in the college’s vicinity led Brethren to purchase New Windsor College and relocate the campus to New Windsor, Maryland. In 1937, the college was sold to a private foundation, The Ridge Foundation, and then a year later the New Windsor Educational Foundation assumed management. These groups both tried to distance Blue Ridge College from its Brethren roots. In 1942, Arthur E. Hungerford became a trustee for the college and in attempt to collect the funds due to the college, he launched a lawsuit against the Eastern Maryland District Meeting of the Church of the Brethren, asking that the deed and mortgage of the college be annulled and that the District Meeting be required to provide an account of their expenses and payments made on behalf of the college. Hungerford accused the district of having committed fraud by keeping assets and income that should have been transferred with the college’s mortgage. The District responded that the disputed property was not a part of the negotiated deal with the college buyers. The case was withdrawn in 1943, but the financial hardships of the college caused the school to close its doors. The property was slated for sale on September 3, 1943, but the sale was canceled the day before the auction was set to take place. A second lawsuit was filed in 1943 against the district to foreclose on the college due to complaints of fraudulent behavior from the 1937 and 1938 buyers and their financiers. In 1944, Judge James Clark ruled against the Brethren, considering them to have engaged in fraudulent transactions. The District Meeting appealed the decision and in 1945, the case was overturned. Meanwhile, in 1944, the property was sold at auction and the Brethren Service Commission purchased the property to be used as a Brethren Service Center.
For more information on Blue Ridge College and the court cases, see R. Jan and Roma Jo Thompson, Beyond Our Means: How the Brethren Service Center Dared to Embrace the World (Elgin: Brethren Press, 2009), 19-60.
Description of the Records: These files appear to be have been compiled by W. Newton Long, the Eastern Maryland District Trustee placed in charge of handling the District legal matters related to the college. The records include correspondence with legal officials, Brethren Service Committee members, Brethren college presidents, other trustees, and college officials as well as legal documents, newspaper articles, and reports related to the two lawsuits and sale of the Blue Ridge College property.
Provenance: 2009.042. These records were transferred to BHLA at an unknown date.
Separations: “District News Letter,” 8:2 (April 1945) from Eastern Maryland District was
placed with Eastern Maryland District files in Record Group 7.
Processor: Denise D. Kettering August 18, 2009
Box 1 Folder 1 1942-1944