5 Lost Colleges & Universities of the Inner City

October 22, 2015 4 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Many would like to see an urban university grow up in the heart of the city. Here's five schools that got away.

5. Trinity Baptist College

Former McDuff Avenue campuse of Trinity Baptist College.

Established in Lackawanna in 1915, Trinity Baptist Church grew from a small neighborhood church into a megachurch after Robert C. Gray became the congregation's pastor in 1954. Gray credited the church's expansion with the completion of the Jacksonville expressway system, which enabled it to spread its ministry countywide.

In 1962, Trinity established the Trinity Rescue Mission on Bay Street in downtown Jacksonville. In 1967, it launched its bus ministry, which grew to become the second-largest bus ministry in the nation, carrying more than 2,400 to church each Sunday during the 1970s.

By this time, the church had outgrown its 6.5-acre McDuff Avenue campus. In 1972, to facilitate additional growth, Trinity moved to a 148-acre tract on Hammond Boulevard off Interstate 10 in Marietta. Two years later, it opened the Trinity Baptist College on its former 426 South McDuff Avenue location. Only allowed to admit 320 students, Trinity Baptist College was a fixture in Jacksonville's urban core until 1998.

A few years earlier, college officials placed the campus up for sale, due to plans to relocate the school for preachers and Christian workers to a site that could accommodate additional growth, put the campus up for sale. That site was the Hammond Road campus in West Jacksonville that the church had relocated to in 1972. This move was made possible after receipt of a $5 million gift from an anonymous donor.

In 1996, Christian Recovery Ministries agreed to purchase Trinity's McDuff Avenue campus. Christian Recovery's plans called for using the college's residential facilities, chapel and library as a facility to house women, children and its social services programs. The purchase was officially completed in 1998. Today, Trinity Baptist College remains on Jacksonville's westside. The campus is home to 377 undergraduates and 28 full-time administrative staff.

Article by Kristen Pickrell and Ennis Davis, AICP.

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