Auction completed for Lon Morris College

The auction of Lon Morris College property ended with a local school district and office supply company as major purchasers, the firm handling the auction said.

Lon Morris, a two-year, UMC-affiliated college in Jacksonville, Texas that has been a gateway to higher education for generations of East Texas Methodist pastors, filed for bankruptcy last summer after years of running deficits.

An auction last month in Dallas resulted in the Jacksonville Independent School District agreeing to purchase the Wilson Administration Building, as well as the college’s gymnasium, swimming pool and athletic fields. A local office supply company called 11 × 17, Inc., agreed to buy the academic buildings, Memorial Chapel and student residences.

Winning bids for the auction totaled nearly $2.2 million.

“The unique circumstances of the Lon Morris College bankruptcy required a non-traditional process that called for a lot of flexibility and patience, and we’re glad that those efforts resulted in a successful sale,” said Stephen Karbelk of Oklahoma-based AmeriBid, the auction company retained to market the properties and conduct the auction.

Proceeds from the sale will be used to pay creditors and the school’s former employees, according to Dawn Ragan of Bridgepoint Consulting, chief restructuring officer for the school’s bankruptcy estate.

“A great deal of work was done with the creditors, employees, prospective buyers and many others, and it’s good to see a positive outcome,” Ms. Ragan said.

The sale must be approved by the bankruptcy court, which has scheduled a hearing on Feb. 4.

Lon Morris, the oldest private two-year school in Texas, failed to meet three consecutive payrolls last spring, leading to the furloughing of most employees and cancellation of summer classes.

The school’s leaders had succeeded in boosting enrollment in recent years, in part through adding academic programs and re-starting a football program, but income consistently failed to meet expenses.

By last summer, the school was revealed to have taken on some $20 million in debt, and filed for bankruptcy in July.

The school began as the New Danville Masonic Female Academy, near Kilgore, Texas, under the leadership of Methodist Isaac Alexander. The school eventually moved to Jacksonville and in 1924 was renamed for A. “Lon” Morris, a Texas banker and Methodist lay preacher who donated to the school.

Famous alumni include country music star K.T. Oslin and Broadway dancing legend Tommy Tune.

Sam Hodges, Former Managing Editor, UMR

Sam Hodges

Sam Hodges was the managing editor of The United Methodist Reporter from 2011-2013. A formee reporter for the Dallas Morning News and the Charlotte Observer, Sam is a respected voice in United Methodist journalism.

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