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Columbia College

Lake City, Florida





The 1914 Chapeau-bas, the school yearbook, has been digitized by Internet Archive.  Florida Memory contains a number of Columbia College photos of students and buildings.  The Tampa Times carried a regular column of news from Columbia College.  The Florida Baptist Historical Society also has a history of the college on line and provided the image of the school seal.


After the reorganization of higher education by race and sex in 1905, the state offered the now vacant Florida Agricultural College campus for the use of any religious body promising to locate a four-year college there. The Florida Baptist Convention accepted the offer and created Columbia College.  An advertisement for the school noted that “while we aim at Mental Culture, the Practical is not overlooked and Moral Training is emphasized.”  Columbia College originally had eight schools:  academic grades, liberal arts, fine arts, pedagogy, the Bible, business, domestic science and practical arts. 


By the time of the 1914 yearbook, some schools had been divided, absorbed or dropped.  The largest schools were instrumental music, vocal music, expression, art, and commerce.  The academy had been dropped.  But out of a total school enrollment of around 200, there were only 34 students in the degree-seeking portion of the college.


But the strength of the music and expression schools can be seen in the fact that graduation was a week-long celebration in which orchestral music, choral music, drama, debate, and forensics were each given a night to present a program for the attending guests.


Columbia College had chapters of the Y.M.C.A., the Ministerial Band, and the Women’s Auxiliary.  There were four literary societies—two for males and two for females—to provide opportunities for forensics and expression.


According to the Florida Baptist Historical Society website, Columbia College suffered some financial difficulty because of a bank failure.  The onset of World War I led to a loss of male students.   A 1917 note indicated that the college needed a more secure financial basis.  In 1918 Columbia College surrendered its campus to the U.S. Army to be used as a recuperation hospital.  The college then closed for the duration of World War I and never reopened.  At that time its indebtedness was listed as $3,000.

Bricks and Mortar

Columbia College moved into the old Florida Agricultural College (see) campus and began three new dormitory buildings totaling 65 rooms.  Some campus buildings were renamed to honor religious and education leaders.


When the campus was sold to the Government in 1920, it consisted of twelve buildings.  Extensively renovated in 1920, it became a Veterans’ Bureau hospital in 1921, and has continued in that function since.



Chapel Hall and dormitory (State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, <>)  Accessed 10-7-2017


          Colors: Grey and Garnett


Columbia College fielded teams in football, baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, tennis and track.  The 1914 yearbook merely states that the college had these teams but that competitive sport was “subordinate to right living and all-round development.”  It goes on to advocate a system for determining state champions in the different sports.  That yearbook lists no games in any sport for Columbia teams, not does it include team photos.


Football was played between 1908 and 1916—but on a limited basis. College Football Data Warehouse shows no more than three games in any season.  Games were played against fellow Baptist schools--Stetson and Mercer-- against the University of Florida, and against Rollins.  One newspaper account shows that the feuding colleges had difficulties in scheduling games against each other.





The 1910 Columbia College football team at practice.  Note the helmets--and lack of same-- and the condition of the grass.  (State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, <>)  Accessed 10-7-2017.



Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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