Looking Back at Upland College

Upland (former Beulah) College, situated at the intersection of San Antonio and Arrow HIghways, was closed by the Brethren in Christ Church in 1965, and later sold. (Courtesy of the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives)

Upland (former Beulah) College, situated at the intersection of San Antonio and Arrow HIghways, was closed by the Brethren in Christ Church in 1965, and later sold. (Courtesy of the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives)

Upland College was a Brethren in Christ college that operated in Southern California for nearly 45 years. Financial hardships forced its closure in 1965, and it merged with another Brethren in Christ institution — Messiah College in Pennsylvania — that same year.

Recently, the Upland Daily Bulletin published an article looking back at Upland’s history and its educational “vision for service.” The piece draws heavily on E. Morris Sider’s history of the college, published in the late 1960s.

Here’s a taste of the article:

Nearly a century ago, a college was born on Third Avenue in Upland driven by the desire to keep young people within the folds of the Brethren in Christ Church.

For 45 years, Beulah College — later Upland College — instructed mostly young members “for home and foreign mission or evangelistic work.”

The church in California only numbered less than 200 members in September 1920 when the doors opened for a handful of students in the Brethren of Christ Church in Upland.

The goal was to create “a church-operated school whose curriculum and activities were designed (as) … an effective way to save the young people of the church,” wrote Upland College graduate E. Morris Sider, in a 1976 book on the college, “A Vision for Service.”

When it opened, Beulah College served all ages from elementary grades to college, though its grammar school was abandoned after two years due to low enrollment and costs. . . .

By 1949, the Board of Trustees decided to change the name – Beulah referred to the “Promised Land” in the 1678 Christian allegorical novel, “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” by John Bunyan. Sider said because of the name many thought it was a girl’s school and confusion often occurred, so Upland College seemed a better alternative.

The 1960s was a decade of change for the college. The Academy was moved off campus as Western Christian High School which was moved several times, finally returning to Upland several years ago to a campus on Euclid Avenue.

Financial problems plunged the college deeply into debt — a fundraising program in 1960-61 had an optimistic goal of $200,000 but raised only $67.000.

The board decided to finally close the doors before the opening of the 1965-66 school year, technically merging with Messiah College of Pennsylvania, another Brethren of Christ institution. To raise money to reduce its debt, the college was put for auction on Oct. 25, 1966, and the campus sold for $550,000 to the Salvation Army. The campus on the west side of San Antonio Avenue changed hands a couple of times before it was acquired again in an auction in 1995 by the Pacific Conference of Brethren in Christ Churches and today serves as the Pacific Christian Center.

The original church building on Third Street is now the Upland-Mt. Baldy Masonic Lodge, while the former administration building that was once a hospital was recently broken into individual offices.

The Search for Piety and Obedience has documented some of Upland’s architectural history in previous posts.

Read the whole article here. And readers with memories of Upland College should share their thoughts in the Comments section below.

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About Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Father to Lucas. Husband to Katie. Prof and administrator at Messiah College. PhD student at Temple University. Member of Grantham BIC.
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