1817 Cornelius Paulding, a wealthy businessman and president of
the Louisiana Bible Society, first proposed the establishment
of such a school in the gateway to Latin America. In 1849 Dr.
Basil Manly, Sr., president of the University of Alabama, wrote
thatl ocating an institution for the training of preachers and missionaries
in New Orleans was "very rational, feasible, and eligible."
Further laying a groundwork in the 1890s, SBC President J.B. Gambrell
conducted for three successive years an annual "Pastors'
Theological Institute" in the First Baptist Church of New
Then in 1914 P.I. Lipsey, editor of the Mississippi Baptist
Record, spoke vigorously on the subject in an editorial, stating:
"A seminary (in New Orleans) would plant the Baptist cause
in this city in a way that would immediately command the attention
and the respect of all. It would be planting the siege guns at the enemies'
It would rally the Baptists and put heart into them and equip
them for their work as nothing else could." At the time,
only five Southern Baptist churches, four of which were missions,
existed in the greater New Orleans area.
Three years of planning finally culminated in action by
the Southern Baptist Convention when sessions were held in New
Orleans in 1917, whereby the SBC's Home Mission Board and Sunday
School Board were instructed to cooperate with the Mississippi
and Louisiana State Baptist Conventions in the establishment of
a theological school in New Orleans.
Thus, a century-old dream of Baptists in the South became
a reality. The rich traditions and atmosphere of New Orleans are a
part of the life of the seminary. From its beginning until 1953,
the school was located at 1220 Washington Avenue in the heart
of New Orleans' historic Garden District area. The beautiful ante-bellum
facility there was purchased in 1918 from the H. Sophie Newcomb
College. Its history reaches back into the 1850s when the grounds
were laid out as a magnificent mansion site.
The current campus, at 3939 Gentilly Boulevard in eastern
New Orleans, was purchased in 1947. The landmark entrance gates
and fence from the Garden District mansion now are located prominently
on the front block of the Gentilly campus. The current property,
once a 75-acre pecan orchard and marsh, has been transformed into
a beautiful campus, now including twelve additional acres and more
than 100 buildings, many in French Colonial architecture.
The vision of Cornelius Paulding, almost two hundred years
ago, to establish a training facility for missions and outreach
has become a world class facility dedicated to the effective training
of ministers for church and other ministry related assignments.