Ellen G. White: The Later Elmshaven Years: 1905-1915 (vol. 6)

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Chapter 1—Loma Linda, “Hill Beautiful”

To Ellen White the stopover on May 4, in 1905, in Los Angeles was all too short. She was with the party of workers traveling east to Washington, D.C., to attend the 1905 General Conference session. During the past several months her mind had been repeatedly called to the Redlands-Riverside-San Bernardino area, some sixty miles east of Los Angeles, as a place where the church should have a sanitarium—it would be the third such institution in southern California. 6BIO 11.1

“I hope,” she wrote to Elder E. S. Ballenger on February 26, 1905, “when you see a suitable place in Redlands, which could be used as a sanitarium, offered for sale at a reasonable price, you will let us know about it. We shall need a sanitarium in Redlands. Unless we start an enterprise of this kind, others will.”—Letter 83, 1905. 6BIO 11.2

Three days later she wrote: “In closing, I would ask you not to forget that sometime a sanitarium will be needed in Redlands.”—Letter 89, 1905. Six weeks later she wrote to Elder J. A. Burden, manager of the Glendale Sanitarium: “Redlands and Riverside have been presented to me as places that should be worked.... Please consider the advisability of establishing a sanitarium in the vicinity of these towns.”—Letter 115, 1905. 6BIO 11.3

Elder Burden reports that at about this time, in the course of a conversation at Elmshaven, Ellen White told the president of the Southern California Conference and one of his committee members that there was a “Sanitarium waiting near Riverside and Redlands,” and she thought it was nearer Redlands. She told them they could find it if they wanted to (DF 8, J. A. Burden, “The Location and Development of Loma Linda,” p. 96). 6BIO 11.4

In response to the repeated messages, a committee was appointed to look for such a site. They felt it must be the Loma Linda resort hotel they had visited earlier, but as it carried a price tag of $85,000, they had turned from it. Now the business had completely failed and the hotel had closed up on April 1; the committee found that it could be bought for $45,000. 6BIO 12.1

On Thursday, May 4, when the eastbound train stopped at the Los Angeles station, a few of the brethren, including Elder Burden, boarded the car to tell Sister White about Loma Linda. She was immediately interested and excitedly urged, “Look up all the particulars and write me at once in Washington.”— Ibid. 6BIO 12.2

She wanted to hear more, but the train was pulling out and the men hurried off. In parting she was urged to watch for the place, which could be seen from the right-hand side of the car. But her berth was on the left side, so it is unlikely that she saw it as the cars sped by. 6BIO 12.3

The conference-bound party reached Washington on Tuesday morning, May 9. The session opened on Thursday morning. Friday afternoon, May 12, the promised letter describing Loma Linda was placed in Ellen White's hands. 6BIO 12.4

She read it aloud to her son W. C. White: 6BIO 12.5

“Dear Sister White,

“While on the train at Los Angeles, we spoke to you of a property for sale near Redlands which seemed to be well adapted for sanitarium purposes. I asked those with you to call your attention to it as the train passed the place. I am sending you a little pamphlet that contains a few views and a brief description of the property, but words and pictures can but faintly describe its beauty. It is simply ideal and grand for a sanitarium.

“The buildings are in excellent condition, well furnished, heated with steam heat, and lighted with electricity. Everything is complete to begin business at once. The main building has forty-six rooms, and there are four cottages having four rooms each, with bath and toilet. Three of these cottages have four porches each, with broad windows so that beds can be wheeled right out on the porch, and patients can sleep in the open air. There is another beautiful building—a two story cottage of nine rooms, with bath and toilet. Another building which has been used as a recreation pavilion, and has four nice rooms, would make a fine gymnasium and chapel. 6BIO 12.6

“There are barns and sheds, and a house for the workmen. There are ten acres of good bearing orange orchard, fifteen acres of alfalfa, eight acres of apricots, plums and almonds. The rest of the grounds are beautifully laid out in lawns, drives, and walks, there being more than a mile of cement walk. The principal buildings are on a beautiful knoll about 125 feet above the valley. The main building is surrounded with pepper-wood trees from thirty to forty feet high. 6BIO 13.1

“There are five horses, four cows, 150 chickens, thirty-five turkeys, some hogs, farm implements, buggies, carriages, and wagons. 6BIO 13.2

“The place has an ample supply of water from the mountains. An artesian well, which has a good pumping plant, yields an abundance of water, if for any reason the mountain water should fail. The water is piped all over the seventy-six acres. 6BIO 13.3

“The place cost the present owners $150,000. They have tried to run it as a tourist hotel, but it was a failure, and they lost money, so it was closed the first of April. The stockholders are financially embarrassed, and have ordered the property sold for $40,000. The furnishings alone in the buildings cost $12,000, and have been used for only about two years and a half. 6BIO 13.4

“A number of us went to see the place today, and we were deeply impressed that this is the place which the Lord has shown you, near Redlands and Riverside, in which sanitarium work should be carried on. It is five miles from Redlands. 6BIO 13.5

“The question is, what shall we do? We must act at once, for the company is anxious to sell, and there are others who want it.... 6BIO 13.6

“We do not wish to move hastily, and we should like to hear from you and the brethren in Washington who have gone from this field, as to how you and they feel about the matter. I wish that if it is at all possible you would take the matter up in council with them, and have them wire us. I do not know how long we can hold the offer open, but will try to do so until we hear from you. I think that those here who are considering the matter feel such a strong conviction that we should have the place that they will pay down a deposit, even if we lose it, rather than let the property pass out of our hands before we can hear from the brethren in Washington. 6BIO 13.7

“How I wish that you could have stopped off and seen the property while on your way to the conference; but it may be that you can return this way and see it then. I hope that you can send us some counsel as soon as you receive this letter. 6BIO 14.1

“Wishing you much of the blessing of the Lord in the conference, I am, Yours in the work, J. A. Burden.”—J. A. Burden to EGW, May 7, 1905 (Special Testimonies, Series B 3:33-35). 6BIO 14.2

When she finished reading, she told Willie that she believed the place was the one that had been presented to her several years ago. (28 WCW, p. 442). 6BIO 14.3

She later wrote that the description given by Brother Burden answered in every respect to that of places she had been instructed would be opened to the church, at prices below their original cost. The terms offered Elder Burden were $5,000 down and like amounts in August (due July 26), September (due August 26), and December (due December 31), making $20,000. The remaining $20,000 would come due in three years (The Story of Our Health Message, 349, 350). 6BIO 14.4

What could they do? Burden in California called for an immediate answer. Conference officers and Ellen White were across the continent in Washington, D.C. It seemed that there could not have been a more inopportune time to deal with such a weighty and far-reaching matter. All in Washington were deeply involved in the General Conference session that had just opened. The Southern California Conference with 1,332 members was now involved in an indebtedness of about $75,000, stemming from the recently acquired San Fernando College and Glendale Sanitarium, the longer-established vegetarian restaurant and treatment rooms in Los Angeles, and the health-food business there. 6BIO 14.5

Three weeks earlier, at the Southern California constituency meeting, a new president had been chosen—a good man, but far from a seasoned executive. He had been charged to hold the line as far as indebtedness was concerned. The General Conference, too, was facing overwhelming financial problems. There was the possibility of having to raise between $75,000 and $90,000 to meet the deficit of the old medical association. So there was little to encourage the hope of help from that source. 6BIO 14.6