gordon history

10 Fun Facts About Gordon’s History and Heritage

If you’ve hung around Gordon long enough, you’re probably familiar with the brief tale of our history: Gordon College was founded in 1889 by a Scotsman named A. J. Gordon, born April 19, 1836. But in honor of Founder’s Weekend at Gordon College, we collected some interesting and lesser-known facts about the College’s history and its foundations.

  1. The motto of Clan Gordon, or House of Gordon, (from which A. J. is a descendent) is Bydand, which means abiding or steadfast.
  2. While Gordon College’s mascot is the Lion Rampant of Scotland (which appears on the Royal Banner of Scotland), the country’s national animal is actually a unicorn, a heraldic symbol since the 12th century.
  3. Like many of the College’s current students, A. J. Gordon was originally from New Hampshire. The Gordon family ancestors were among the first settlers in his hometown of New Hampton.
  4. Since its founding, Gordon College has had 12 names, including the Boston Missionary Training Institute (1889), Gordon Bible Institute (1914) and Gordon College, The United College of Gordon and Barrington (1985).
  5. Gordon College’s first bachelor’s degree was awarded to May E. Hancock, who later served for 37 years on the faculty.
  6. Clarendon Street Baptist Church, the church that A. J. Gordon pastored for 26 years until his death and the source of our trademark bell, burned down in 1982. The shell of the church, located at 2 Clarendon Street was reconstructed into a seven-story Back Bay luxury apartment complex with 60 condominiums, called Clarendon Square.
  7. The first church where A. J. Gordon served as preacher was the Jamaica Plain Baptist Church. The 174-year-old church still worships, now known as the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain.
  8. A. J. Gordon is mentioned on an informational plaque at the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston. Both religious leaders in 19th-century Boston, the two went head-to-head in theological debates over Christian Science, which Eddy founded in 1875.
  9. Early in its existence, Gordon College was located in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood of Boston—making its original site a neighbor of Fenway Park.
  10. Harvard and the United Nations both viewed the property that is now Gordon College’s Wenham, MA campus in the early 1950s. Hearing of the interest, a Gordon Divinity School student-pastor approached Frederick Prince about selling the property to the College. Prince was impressed, and sold the estate to Gordon.

Join the celebration of Gordon’s heritage, beginning tomorrow >