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Wed, 02.15.1899

Daniel Payne College is Founded

*Daniel Payne College is celebrated on this date in 1899.  Also known as the Payne Institute, Payne University, and Greater Payne University, it was a Historically Black College (HBCU). 

Located in Birmingham, Alabama, it functioned until 1979 and was associated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME Church). The college was named in honor of Daniel Payne, the sixth bishop of the AME Church and the first Black college president in the United States. The college was founded in Selma on campus at 1525 Franklin Street. It included Bishop Gaines Hall as the primary building, two additional classroom buildings, and Coppin Hall, which served as a dormitory.

The college stayed at that location through 1922, when it relocated to its Woodlawn location within Birmingham.  Daniel Payne College was relocated to 6415 Washington Boulevard. By 1974, because of airport expansion and the building of interstate highways in the area.  The college moved to a new campus at the southeast corner of Cherry Avenue and Daniel Payne Drive on the far northern edge of Birmingham, where new buildings were constructed in 1974. On April 4, 1977, a destructive tornado tore through the campus, severely damaging buildings.  The damage and mounting financial problems forced the school to file for bankruptcy in 1978 and close its doors in 1979.  

At the time of its closure, the college had 120 students on the 153-acre campus.  Later, some students sued the former president, claiming he had mismanaged college funds. A court ruling established the precedent that students have a vested interest in the operation of the college they attend.  After the college closed, the city of Birmingham changed the name of Sayreton Road to Daniel Payne Drive in honor of the bishop and educator. The old campus still exists, although the dormitories have been abandoned. Other buildings were adapted for use as a public health clinic and as the headquarters for the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Alabama.

In 2009, the AME Church offices were relocated to downtown Birmingham.   In 2010, the AME Church announced plans to redevelop the campus as a retirement home and multi-use project. Birmingham's April 2011 tornado outbreak severely damaged the former campus.  

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