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Pacific Union College opened its doors in Angwin in 1909, but celebrated its centennial 20 years ago.

That's because the college was originally founded in 1882, in Healdsburg. First called Healdsburg Academy and later Healdsburg College, the school was started by Seventh-day Adventists under the supervision of prophet Ellen White, a founder of the Adventist movement three decades earlier.

The school aimed to educate students in health, morals and self-sufficiency as well as academic subjects. Students were required to do two and a half hours of manual labor each day, tending the school's farm or making shoes, tents or brooms in one of several campus shops

Enrollment grew from 26 students in the school's first year to nearly 300 in 1902, but then began to fall off. Meanwhile, Healdsburg College had developed a number of commercial enterprises, from a fruit and vegetable cannery to a woodlot.

Though run largely with unpaid student labor, not all of these businesses were successful and the school itself was not a money-maker. The result was a steadily rising tide of debt that ultimately swamped the college. In 1908, Adventist elders sold off the Healdsburg property and began looking for another site.

In September 1909, just weeks before school was scheduled to open, they found an ideal property atop Howell Mountain in Napa County: Angwin's Resort, founded as a health retreat by farmer Edwin Angwin in the 1860s. Just down the road, the St. Helena Sanitarium — now St. Helena Hospital — had been opened by Adventists in 1878, and Ellen White had settled nearby in 1900.

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With White's approval, the Adventists purchased Angwin's Resort for $600,000 and opened Pacific Union College, the first college in Napa County, in less than a month. Ten students were enrolled in the first year.

The school bell from Healdsburg College now hangs in the bell tower outside the Pacific Union College Church.

For more about the early history of Healdsburg College and Pacific Union College, see "A Mountain, A Pickax, A College" by Walter Utt. Selections from the book are online at http://www.puc.edu/PUC/newsevents/publications/Pickax/

Louisa Hufstader can be reached at 256-2265 or at lhufstader@napanews.com

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