Housing students, classrooms throughout its history, a café and a post office, the W. E. James Building has served many purposes during the growth of California Baptist College and then California Baptist University.
The James Building was named after Dr. Whitley E. James, former chairman of the Christian Education Committee of the Los Angeles Southern Baptist Association.
James helped establish CBC at the First Southern Baptist Church in El Monte, California, according to Olie T. Brown and Dr. E. Nelson in their book “It’s a Great Day; A History of California Baptist College, Its First Twenty Years.”
In 1920, the land on which CBU now sits was bought by the fraternity called Neighbors of Woodcraft to host the Woodcraft Home, Keith Yates said in his book “History of the Woodcraft Home.”
Vi Estel, archivist at CBU, said that the two-story section of the building was built in 1925 while the four-story section was built in 1934 and used to house elderly residents of the Neighbors of Woodcraft.
Once CBC bought the Woodcraft Home and renamed it, the building served multiple uses. It housed students, and also had a café and campus post office on the bottom floor.
Bobby Brown, a student at CBC in 1965 and 1966, said the second floor of the two-story section of James served as the men’s dormitory.
The four-story section of James served as classrooms and women’s dormitories.
In 1962, it doubled as an air raid shelter during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Students were required to pack small overnight bags in case of an air raid and went through drills, which required them to go down into the basement, where 50 gallon drums of water were stored.
In 1968, Smith and Simmons halls were built to create more housing for residents, and the James Building transitioned from a living area to a building of classrooms and offices.