Life Sketches of Ellen G. White


In Search of a Site

As a preliminary step toward the carrying out of the recommendations of the General Conference and of the stockholders of the Review and Herald, representative men were chosen to serve as a locating committee. Before proceeding with their work, they wrote to Mrs. White, requesting her to communicate to them any definite light she might have regarding the exact place where they should transfer the publishing interests. In her first response to their request, Mrs. White wrote: LS 390.2

“I have no special light, except what you have already received, in reference to New York and the other large cities that have not been worked. Decided efforts should be made in Washington, D. C. It is a sad thing that the record stands as it does, showing so little accomplished there. It will be best to consider what can be done for this city, and see what ways of working will be the best. LS 390.3

“In the past, decided testimony has been borne in regard to the need of making decided efforts to bring the truth before the people of Washington.... LS 390.4

“May the Lord help us to move understandingly and prayerfully. I am sure that He is willing that we should know, and that right early, where we should locate our publishing house. I am satisfied that our only safe course is to be ready to move just when the cloud moves. Let us pray that He will direct us. He has signified, by His providence, that He would have us leave Battle Creek.... LS 390.5

“New York needs to be worked, but whether our publishing house should be established there, I cannot say. I should not regard the light I have received as definite enough to favor the movement. LS 391.1

“Let us all lift our hearts to God in prayer, having faith that He will guide us. What more can we do? Let Him indicate the place where the publishing house should be established. We are to have no will of our own, but are to seek the Lord, and follow where He leads the way.” The Review and Herald, August 11, 1903, p. 6. LS 391.2

The locating committee met in New York City, May 18, 1903, formed their plans, and began at once an investigation of properties in suburban places, and along the Sound and up the Hudson. Day after day they continued their search, until finally they began to despair of finding anything suitable for their needs. Two or three of their number had already returned to Battle Creek, when a second letter was received from Mrs. White, in which she gave further counsel, as follows: LS 391.3

“During the past night many things have been presented to me regarding our present dangers, and some things about our publishing work have been brought most distinctly to my mind. LS 391.4

“As our brethren search for a location for the Review and Herald publishing house, they are earnestly to seek the Lord. They are to move with great caution, watchfulness, and prayer, and with a constant sense of their own weakness. We must not depend upon human judgment. We must seek for the wisdom that God gives.... LS 391.5

“In regard to establishing the institution in New York, I must say, Be guarded. I am not in favor of its being near New York. I cannot give all my reasons, but I am sure that any place within thirty miles of that city would be too near. Study the surroundings of other places. I am sure that the advantages of Washington, D. C., should be closely investigated. LS 392.1

“The workers connected with the publishing house must be closely guarded. Our young men and young women must not be placed where they will be in danger of being ensnared by Satan. LS 392.2

“We should not establish this institution in a city, nor in the suburbs of a city. It should be established in a rural district, where it can be surrounded by land. In the arrangements made for its establishment, the climate must be considered. The institution should be placed where the atmosphere is most conducive to health. This point should be given an important place in our considerations, for wherever the office of publication is established, preparation must also be made to fit up a small sanitarium and to establish a small agricultural school. We must, therefore, find a place that has sufficient land for these purposes. We must not settle in a congested center. LS 392.3

“My brethren, open up the work intelligently. Let every point be carefully and prayerfully considered. After much prayer and frequent consultation together, act in accordance with the best judgment of all. Let each worker sustain the other. Do not fail or become discouraged. Keep your perceptive faculties keen and clear by learning constantly of Christ, the Teacher who cannot err.” The Review and Herald, August 11, 1903. LS 392.4

As the locating committee had found nothing in the vicinity of New York City that seemed to meet their requirements, and as they had been counseled in both letters to study the advantages of Washington, some members of the committee decided to go to that city, although with but little hope of finding the advantages desired. But they were happily surprised. LS 393.1

“We had not looked about the place long,” wrote one of the committeemen, “before there began to steal over us a conviction that, after all, Washington might be the place for our headquarters. The longer we continued to search, the deeper this conviction grew. We found conditions here far more in harmony with the counsel ... received, than we had found anywhere else.” The Review and Herald, August 20, 1903. LS 393.2

It was not long after the brethren had come to this conviction, when they received a third letter from Mrs. White, in which she stated: LS 393.3

“We have been praying for light regarding the location of our work in the East, and light has come to us in a very decided way. Positive light has been given me that there will be offered to us for sale places upon which much money has been expended by men who had money to use freely. The owners of these places die, or their attention is called to some other object, and their property is offered for sale at a very low price. LS 393.4

“In regard to Washington, I will say that twenty years ago memorials for God should have been established in that city, or rather, in its suburbs.... LS 393.5

“We are many years behind in giving the message of warning in the city that is the capital of our nation. Time and time again the Lord has presented Washington to me as a place that has been strangely neglected.... If there is one place above another where a sanitarium should be established, and where gospel work should be done, it is Washington.... LS 393.6

“I present this to you as a matter that is stirring me mightily. One thing is certain: we shall not be clear unless we at once do something in Washington to represent our work. I shall not be able to rest until I see the truth going forth as a lamp that burneth.... LS 394.1

“From the light given me, I know that, for the present, the headquarters of the Review and Herald should be near Washington. If there is on our books and papers the imprint of Washington, D. C., it will be seen that we are not afraid to let our light shine. Let the publishing house be established near Washington. Thus we shall show that we are trying to do what God has bidden us do to proclaim the last message of mercy to a perishing world.” The Review and Herald, August 20, 1903. LS 394.2