A. J. Gordon could not have anticipated the emergence of the liberal arts college that now bears his name. But I like to think he would feel at home if he were to walk onto campus today.
—R. Judson Carlberg, president of Gordon College, 1992–2011
Gordon College was founded in 1889 under the name Boston Missionary Training School, in the basement of Clarendon Street Church. The school is named for its founder, the Rev. Dr. Adoniram Judson (A. J.) Gordon, pastor of the church and prominent clergyman of the late 1800s. Within 30 years, Gordon grew well beyond the facilities of its founding church as well as the facilities it used at the Newton Theological Institute, Newton, Mass. The College then moved to the Fenway portion of Boston, into a facility that was financed through a very generous gift given by Martha Frost.
The Big Move
Our growth soon surpassed even the Fenway facilities. In the late 1940s, James Higginbotham, a student pastor at Gordon Divinity School, approached Frederick Prince about selling his well endowed Wenham estate to Gordon. Impressed by Higginbotham, Prince sold the 1,000 acre estate to Gordon for a very small sum and donated a large sum to construct what would become the Prince Memorial Chapel. In 1955, Gordon moved to Wenham, Massachusetts, selling its old facilities to Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT).
One Man's Vision–Two Realities
The College and associated divinity school flourished on Boston's North Shore. In 1970, the divinity school separated from the college and merged with the Conwell School of Theology formerly in Philadelphia. The merged schools settled about two miles from the Gordon College campus, forming the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. Though they share a common heritage, the college and seminary are no longer formally linked to one another.
In 1985, Gordon merged with Barrington College (formerly in Barrington, Rhode Island), with the combined school retaining the name of Gordon College. At the merger, Barrington's distinguished history of Christian service and faithfulness became a part of Gordon's history. Both schools shared a common vision for Christian higher education, ministry, and service that made a merger of the institutions sensible for both schools. Gordon has worked to integrate Barrington's tradition and history into its own.