After three years of review and vetting, Hobby Lobby executives announced Friday the company will donate a historic New England campus to an Arizona-based Christian university.
Steve Green, president of the Oklahoma City-based craft store chain, said the company will donate a 217-acre campus in Northfield, Mass., to for-profit Grand Canyon University through a foundation affiliated with the university.
Grand Canyon University currently owns a 115-acre campus in Phoenix. University spokesman Bill Jenkins said the school plans to begin offering classes at the western Massachusetts campus in the fall of 2014.
University officials toured the campus Thursday to look at the condition of its buildings and determine what preparations would need to be done, Jenkins said. The campus is generally in good condition, he said.
“We're encouraged,” he said.
Green said the company selected Grand Canyon University to receive the campus because it was financially stable enough to handle costs associated with the campus, such as maintenance and utility costs.
The college also demonstrated a level of Christian orthodoxy that's consistent with the company's leadership and the campus' history, Green said.
Hobby Lobby bought the campus in 2009 for $100,000, and has since spent $5 million in upkeep and improvements.
Before the company bought it, the campus housed Northfield Mount Hermon School, a prep school founded by evangelist D.L. Moody. Moody built the campus in 1879 as a school for girls.
Hobby Lobby originally bought the campus intending to donate it to the C.S. Lewis Foundation, a nonprofit based in Redlands, Calif. The foundation intended to use the campus to establish a college named for the British writer. Economic forces halted those plans, however, and Hobby Lobby began searching for a new recipient.