Our History

Moved by the need for a private Christian college in East Texas, a group of earnest Baptists met in March of 1899. Forming an educational society, they proceeded with plans to establish an institution which would provide Christ-centered teaching and training. The city of Jacksonville supported their choice to be the location of the college.

Dr. J.M. Newburn, a founding trustee and the third President of Jacksonville College stated that our institution was born in a “Baptist pastor’s home, amid earnest prayers” and the ”unyielding loyalty to the faith of the fathers and the rising generation.” God blessed that loyalty, drawing students from all over the region, state, nation and world.

The college opened in a rented building in September 1899 with an initial enrollment of 34 students, which had increased to 85 students by the end of the term. Before Christmas, a three-story brick building was completed and the college moved to its current location. This first building, known as Old Main, would be the center of the campus for the next 75 years.

Originally organized on the senior college level, Jacksonville College was reorganized as a  junior college in 1918. The college has continued to function on the junior college level since that time, awarding its graduates the Associate in Arts and the Associate in Science Degree. It is the only Christian junior college in the state of Texas.

In 1923 the original charter was amended to formalize a relationship with the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas. The college continues to be supported by Baptist churches today and is often referred to as Jacksonville Baptist College or JBC.

As an institution dedicated to training not just the mind and the soul but also the body, athletics has always formed a significant part of the college. The longest running sport was basketball, with Jacksonville College teams winning championships in the 1930s and the 1980s. Today the college fields men’s and women’s teams in soccer, golf, tennis, cross country, and track and field.

Over the years the college has gradually expanded to include two women’s dorms, two men’s dorms, a student center, an administration building, multiple classroom buildings, athletic facilities, and a library housed in the historic Newburn House. The original college building, Old Main, was torn down in the 1970s to make room for a new chapel building, which is now the center of the campus.