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Black and white photo of Ferrin Hall in Barrington, Rhode Island

History of Barrington College

The Founding

Founded by Essek Kenyon, an evangelist and pastor, Barrington College first began when Kenyon invited young Christians to live at his home in Spencer, MA where they were provided with Bible instruction. Then, in 1900, Mr. and Mrs. John Marble gifted Kenyon a seventy-acre farm in Spencer, MA that would help facilitate his particular brand of communal living, shared work, and biblical teaching. The school was named Bethel Bible Training School and, in 1906 when the school received state incorporation, the name changed to Bethel Bible Institute.

Joining Kenyon at the school was Mrs. Hannah Scheuller (matron) and Miss Amy Ridge (resident superintendent). In 1908, Thomas P. Fletcher was hired as music teacher and Dean Lydia Rebecca Smith arrived. During this time, classes were held on Tuesdays through Friday mornings with afternoons and Mondays reserved for communal work. 

Image: Spencer Students, possibly the choir (1906)

Information courtesy of A Faithful Past, An Expectant Future by Thomas & Jean Askew.

The Early Years

As enrollment continued to grow before and after World War I, a change of venue was needed. In 1923, the school moved to Dudley, MA where it assumed use of Budleigh Hall Mansion house and the gymnasium, hall, and classrooms of the then vacant Nichols Academy. The school changed its name to Dudley Bible Institute and Nichols Junior Academy.

In 1924, Kenyon resigned as President of the school to pursue evangelical work in California and was replaced by Reverend C. C. Sweet, who was president for about a year. In 1925, the then 26-year old Howard Ferrin became President and the school entered its era of greatest expansion and growth. Ferrin would serve as President for the next 40 years. 

Ferrin initiated an evangelistic radio program in 1926 called the "Dudley Radio Carollers" that featured Ferrin preaching as well as students singing. This would become "The Mountain Top Hour." 

Image: Budleigh Hall

Information courtesy of A Faithful Past, An Expectant Future by Thomas & Jean Askew.


In favor of an advantageous, urban location, the school moved in 1929 to Providence, RI and became the Providence Bible Institute (PBI). This location provided new opportunities for student employment and ministries. New faculty that were appointed before and after the move provided fresh leadership.

Richard W. Oliver, a gifted pianist, became dean of men in 1927. In addition to his administrative duties, he played a large role in building the music program at the school. His absence, though, was soon felt when he died in a car accident in 1930. 

Musician F. Carlton Booth joined the school in 1930 and became the head of the music department and directed radio programming. Booth, building on the musical excellence of the school dating back to Spencer,  developed the only nationally accredited school of music in Rhode Island. 

Terrelle Crum joined the faculty in 1932 played a large role in the expansion and growth of the school. Not only did he eventually become dean, but he organized and expanded the curriculum to include pastoral studies, Christian education, liberal arts, and music. He also led the Evening School, which began in 1929.

Following World War II, the school expanded from its three-year Bible curriculum to a full-fledged, four-year Bachelor of Arts program and a five-year Bachelor of Theology program. The school's radio ministry was now reaching from southern California to the middle Atlantic and its success led to the school founding the first noncommercial FM station in Rhode Island called WPTL. As the first Bachelor of Arts degree was awarded in 1950, it was clear that the school was beginning to outgrow its home in Providence. 

Image: Providence Bible College, Class of 1931

Information courtesy of A Faithful Past, An Expectant Future by Thomas & Jean Askew.

The Miracle Dollar

As the student numbers increased post-World War II, it was obvious that the Providence campus was reaching its limits. The opportunity to purchase the 110-acre Edgewood Junior Colleger, formerly the Frederick S. Peck estate, property in Barrington, RI presented itself in the 1950s. The school offered a bid that was matched by another institution looking to purchase the estate. Both institutions were given the chance to put in a second bid that would determine who the Peck Estate would go to. After much fundraising, a bid of $330,000 was placed. However, after much prayer, President Ferrin decided to up the bid by $1, making the final bid $331,000. The school won the bid by that $1 and the event became known as the "Miracle Dollar." 

On January 22, 1951, papers were signed and the title to the property was secured. According to Howard Ferrin, two years later, on May 30, 1953, "this magnificent 110-acre campus beame "Wholly the Lord's" as the mortgage was burned...."

Image: Peck Estate aerial view (1938)

Information courtesy of A Faithful Past, An Expectant Future by Thomas & Jean Askew and It Was a Miracle by Howard Ferrin.


In 1951, the name of the school was changed to Providence-Barrington Bible College. During this time, Dean Crum, along with the faculty, made serious curriculum changes. These changes solidified the school as a college of the arts and sciences and a Bible major was required in the core curriculum. In 1959, the name of the school shortened to become Barrington College. and, in 1960, the school was accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

President Ferrin, after forty years of service, left the presidency in 1965 and was made chancellor. This change in leadership marked significant changes for Barrington. 

Under the leadership of Charles E. Hummel (1965-1975), the curriculum focused on an interdisciplinary concept and a 4-1-4 academic calendar was instated. In 1969, the music program received accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music. On top of the academic changes, campus social and athletics opportunities evolved and further facilities were built to support the growing student population.

In 1975, Harold L. Fickett became president of Barrington and was followed by David G. Horner in 1979. Horner initiated special Summer Institutes and worked toward fiscal stability. However, in 1984, a merger of Barrington and Gordon Colleges was announced at that year's Homecoming celebrations. By the fall of 1985, Barrington and Gordon had merged to become the United College of Gordon and Barrington (later shortened to Gordon College). 

Image: Ferrin Hall, Barrington College

Information courtesy of A Faithful Past, An Expectant Future by Thomas & Jean Askew.

Presidents & Name Changes

History of Name Changes

Bethel Bible Training School (1898/1900)

Bethel Bible Institute (1906)

Dudley Bible Institute and Nichols Junior Academy (1923)

Providence Bible Institute (1929)

Providence-Barrington Bible College (1951)

Barrington College (1959)


History of Presidents

History of Name Changes

Bethel Bible Training School (1898/1900)

Bethel Bible Institute (1906)

Dudley Bible Institute and Nichols Junior Academy (1923)

Providence Bible Institute (1929)

Providence-Barrington Bible College (1951)

Barrington College (1959)

List of Presidents

Essek Kenyon (1898/1900-1924)

C.C. Swett (1924-1925)

Howard E. Ferrin (1925-1965)

Charles E. Hummel (1965-1975)

Harold L. Ficket (1975-1979)

David G. Horner (1979-1985)

Barrington College Materials

Barrington College Publications

This collection is comprised of publications created by the college or other college groups including:

  • Victory (1933 – 1935)
  • P B Eye (1948 – 1954)
  • The P-Bee (1954 – 1959)
  • The Barringtonian (1959 – 1972)
  • The Forum (1972 – 1984)
  • The Main Event (1985)
  • Alumni materials
  • The Torch (1939 – 1985)
  • Various Newsletters, student publications, etc.
  • Course Catalogs

Barrington Papers

This collection is made up of materials created by the College including:

  • Brochures, marketing, and program materials
  • Records of the Board of Trustees
  • Records of the President’s Office
  • Committees – meeting minutes, correspondence, etc.
  • Other academic and administrative offices and departments
  • Reports, Reviews, and Assessments
  • Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and Student papers
  • Syllabi
  • Histories of the College, programs, events

Pictured: The P-Bee (March 6, 1936); Barrington Bulletin (March 1960 & October 1960)

Barrington College Material

Board of Trustee Minutes (1906-1932 & 1929-1952).

Help Us Identify Your Classmates

Barrington Rock-a-thon

Students participate in the 1976 Rock-a-thon at Barrington College. Know any of these students or have a story about the Rock-a-thon? Email with the title "Barrington Rock-a-thon."

BC Company

Recognize any of the members from the BC Company? Email us at

Hanging Around

Barrington Students hanging around during the 1984-85 school year.

Student Life at Barrington

Students having fun while cleaning the fountain located outside of Ferrin Hall at Barrington College. 

Basketball at Barrington

Barrington's basketball team pictured with Coach Augustine. Know any of the students on the team? Email us at

Barrington Barbershop Quartet

Members of a Barbershop Quartet at Barrington College in 1979. Recognize any of these singers? Email us at

1976 Afro-American Society

Members of Barrington's Afro-American Society in 1976. Know any of the students featured in this photo? Email us at

Jane Andrus

Jane Andrus, as well as other beloved Gordon faculty, originally were Barrington College professors. When Barrington and Gordon merged, some professors moved to Gordon along with their students. Professor Andrus was passionate about marine biology. Do you have stories about Professor Andrus? Share them with us in our oral history form. Know who the students are that are pictured with Andrus? Email us at

Barrington 1970s

Two students at Barrington College during the 1970s pull along two donkeys. Know the context of this photo? Share it with us by filling out our oral history form!