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Fri, 10.04.1872

Edward Waters College is Founded

The founding of Edward Waters College (EWC) in 1872 is celebrated on this date. It is among over 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America (HBCUs).

EWC is located in Jacksonville, FL.  Following the American Civil War, the first bishop of Florida, Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, sent the Reverend Charles H. Pearce to Florida to establish another church.  Pearce heeded the call to educate newly emancipated Blacks in the state, and he raised funds to establish a school in 1866, which evolved as Edward Waters College, named after the third bishop.

Courses were first offered at the elementary, high school, college, and seminary levels. In 1870, during the session of Florida's Tallahassee Conference of the AME Church, the school’s name became Brown Theological Institute, chartered in 1872. It then purchased ten acres of land in Live Oak, where construction of the first building began.

That year, the name was changed to "Brown University." But financial difficulties that resulted from an embezzlement scheme awarded the school properties to creditors, and the school was dormant for a decade. By 1883, the school was reopened as the "East Florida Conference High School" and later the "East Florida Scientific and Divinity High School." In 1892, educational programs were extended, and the name was changed to Edward Waters College in honor of the third bishop of the AME Church. In 1901, a storm destroyed the college and much of the city of Jacksonville.

In 1904, following several years in rented quarters, Edward Waters College purchased its present King's Road site. The Centennial Building, the B.F.Lee Theological Seminary, is the college's administration building. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools first accredited Edward Waters College in 1955 as a junior college. In 1958, the school expanded to offer senior college work. By 1960, the college restored its four-year curriculum and granted the bachelor's degree.

In 1985 EWC grew to an average full-time enrollment of 650 students and became the 43rd member of the United Negro College Fund. EWC places its worth on developing morally and well-accepted citizens among its students.

All on-campus students must attend chapel every Wednesday morning, which is also professional dress day, and they are expected to bring business casual attire to be properly dressed for school-based special occasions. The college library also features a distinctive collection of African art.



Black American Colleges and Universities:
Profiles of Two-Year, Four-Year, & Professional Schools
by Levirn Hill, Pub., Gale Group, 1994
ISBN: 0-02-864984-2

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