Billionaire family offers $20 million campus free to Christian organization


NORTHFIELD, Mass. — A billionaire family is offering a 217-acre Massachusetts campus free to a Christian ministry.

The potential prospect must offer a Christian education and be able to financially maintain the sprawling 43-building campus.

The campus was founded in 1879 by D.L. Moody as a girl's school and later expanded to include the Mount Hermon School for boys. The campus is reportedly worth $20 million.

The property formerly belonged to Northfield Mount Hermon Prep School, but the school vacated the aging property in 2005 after it relocated to a nearby campus.

The property was sold in 2009 for $100,000 to the Green family, owner of the Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby craft store chain.

The Greens originally had intended to give the campus to a new college named after C.S. Lewis. The project stalled in December amid fundraising issues. Although the C.S. Lewis Foundation, which is starting the college, has stated that it hasn't given up on the campus, the Greens have been searching for a new owner.

The campus is now ready to for a new owner after a $5 million renovation.

"It's spectacular. It's spectacular. That's all I can say," Tracy Davis, academic dean of California-based Olivet University, told the Associated Press as she walked the grounds.

The Greens have presented the offer to 15 specific Christian organizations. Liberty University in Virginia, Olivet and Azusa Pacific University in California are some of the schools whose names have gone public.

Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby, told AP that they would like to transfer the grounds to its new owners by the end of the year.

"We would love to see the property be used for a great Christian ministry, and if we help somebody to get that started without a lot of heartburn ... and be a light in the area, that would be our primary goal," Green said.

D.L. Moody was born in Northfield, MA, on Feb. 5, 1837, in a house that still remains on the campus of Northfield Mount Hermon School. Moody is buried on a hill called Round Top on the Northfield campus.