Psalm 71:17 & 18

Since my youth, God, you have taught me and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I'm old and gray do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.

Monday, February 8th, 2016

AM91 & Castle History

AM91 KPOF Radio has a long history here in the Denver area. But even more rich a history can be found in the home of the studios themselves. The building now lovingly referred to as The Big Red Castle began its conception in the heart of the Presbyterian Church who envisioned a Christian college to rival its sisters in the East, a true "Princeton of the West".

[The Castle Today]In 1891, architect E. B. Gregory designed the university's main building. His plans called for gray stone, from the Coal Creek area. The final design was made by Stanford White, and while holding close to the original design, substituted red sandstone from what is now the Red Rocks/Manitou area. By 1893 the building's structure was completed. It had a frontage of 160 feet, a depth of 80 feet, and a height of three full stories and a striking tower of 175 feet. But for several years the building would be left isolated on the open prairie; the promises of optimistic visionaries unfulfilled due to the 1893 Silver Crash and competition from a nearby Presbyterian college.

On September 17, 1908, the Westminster University finally opened its doors to 60 students, and the occasion was marked by water being installed in the building for the first time. In 1915, the Board of Trustees made a very imprudent decision that inevitably led to the institute's closure in 1917. The decision was made to exclude women from the college. The outbreak of war at this time influenced male students to be more interested in joining the military than in continuing their education, thus undoing the "Princeton of the West".

On January 31, 1920 Westminster College was purchased by the Pillar of Fire for a mere $40,000. During its heyday the property had been valued at upwards of half a million dollars. The Pillar of Fire organization, under the auspices of Bishop Alma White, negotiated for four months with the Presbyterian Board of Trustees before buying the rights to the college building, 45 acres of land, a power plant, Kirkwood Hall--formerly a student's dormitory--and the President's House. Pillar's intention was to reopen the school in the fall of that same year, and although it seemed unlikely, the College did actually open in the fall as planned.

[The Castle Then]After being abandoned for three years, the Westminster building was in grave need of repair. Hundreds of windows were shattered. A farmer had turned the basement into a coop for thousands of chickens. There was farm machinery on the first floor, cracks in the stone walls, broken plaster and a series of other complaints. Repairs were estimated at $75,000. Workers were brought in and began making repairs. The roads around the campus were graded and rebuilt, the grounds revitalized. The power plant received an overhaul and carloads of coal were brought in. With hard work, the first and second floors of the college were finally completed by July of that first year. As planned, the new owners of the Westminster University opened its doors to students on Tuesday, September 7th, 1920.

By 1926 the school was accredited and the name changed to Belleview Schools. The college and school continued to prosper over the years, although it in no way rivaled the illustrious establishments of the East. Belleview School is still in existence, operating primarly from new school buildings on the campus. Classes continue in the main building today, with Bible Institute and College training. What once seemed doubtful to ever hold students now celebrates a century of education.

[Alma White Broadcasts]Since 1928 the Pillar of Fire has been broadcasting Christian ministry over the air from the College. A pioneer in radio broadcasting, KPOF is widely recognized as the grandaddy of Christian radio in the country.

A broadcast station was licensed on January 12, 1927 and went on the air with 15 watts of power on 1490 kilocycles. The equipment was installed at the Belleview College in the fall of that year for the express purpose of promoting the College, even though the station at that time was not even owned by the College. A new transmitter was installed and on March 9, 1928 the Federal Radio Commission authorized the sale of the station to the Pillar of Fire. On that day, the call letters became KPOF.

[The First Transmitter]By June of 1929, KPOF was broadcasting a nonprofit religious itinerary on Sundays and also during the morning hours each weekday. Regular sermons were aired from Alma Temple, the Pillar's Denver Church, one-half block south of the Capitol Building. Throughout the pioneer years of broadcasting, the majority of programs were produced live with musical talent and speakers having to be on location.

In 1966, Robert B. Dallenbach was designated to be the General Manager of the station. Today, although no longer the General Manager, Dr. Dallenbach can be heard at 5:30am and 9:15pm Monday through Friday on the program "Sharing Jesus" and from 7-10pm on Sundays during the program "Sunday Classical Music".

KPOF is the oldest station of the Pillar of Fire Network, which is the oldest network of Christian Stations in the World. Today, KPOF, Colorado's ninth oldest continuously licensed broadcast station and first to broadcast in HD Radio™, continues to offer religious oriented, non-profit programs, as well as classical and educational series.

[National Register of Historical Places]Today the Westminster University Building is the towering landmark that marks a campus for Belleview Christian Schools and AM91 Radio, both ministries of the Pillar of Fire. From this historic building, programs are being carried on the World Wide Web around the world. Students are educated and inspired to minister and serve at home and abroad. Rightfully earning a place in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, the future of the building is now secure. And who knows, another hundred years or so from now, people might gather here once again and celebrate the further trials and tribulations of this monument to education.

This text was edited for the web and condensed from the booklet, "The Story of a College Ministry" by Andy James Lavender. Special thanks to Dr. Robert B. Dallenbach, Andy Lavender and Joel W. Dallenbach of Pillar of Fire, for their efforts in gathering historical information and photos for the publication.

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