In 1917-1918, with a gift from Lyman Stewart of Los Angeles, a new womenâ€™s residence, the Ella M. Stewart Dormitory,was built.
Construction of Stewart Hall
Logs used to build Stewart Hall
“By 1917, it was obvious that the girls would need a larger dormitory than Sunshine Cottage. Acting on faith, Rev. Forrest set aside a plot of land a short distance south of the dining room and broke ground for a two-story building for girls. There was no money–not even ten dollars–toward the building, nor did he intend to build until the necessary sum had been obtained, for he was extremely cautious about doing anything unless he had the money for it.
“The next day after the groundbreaking ceremonies, Rev. Forrest left for Los Angeles to preach at a convention there. All the way out on the train he was thinking how he wished he could meet a man out there named Stewart–Lyman Stewart–the president of the Union Oil Company and the man who had given 600,000.00 to start the building of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA).
“After he arrived, he told his friend George Davis, the pastor at whose church the convention was being held, that he hoped to see Lyman Stewart while out there, for ‘maybe he can help us some.’
“‘Oh,’ Rev. Davis replied, ‘now listen. I wouldn’t discourage you for anything, Brother Forrest, but you might as well dismiss that ideal; for you would never get within a mile of Lyman Stewart, particularly if he thought you needed any money. Everybody’s been hounding him for financial help.’
“‘Well,’ responded Rev. Forrest, ‘I have no idea of hounding him, but I’d like to tell him what we’re trying to do. Maybe he’d like to help. He can what I can’t do, and I can do over there in Georgia what he can’t do–maybe we could get together.’
“‘No, just forget it,’ was the discouraging answer.
“The very next day Rev. Forrest was standing on the corner of Fifth and Hope Streets. He had heard that Dr. R.A. Torrey, President of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, was preaching somewhere at noon every day that week, it being Passion Week. No one around the school seemed to know where he was speaking. Therefore, Rev. Forrest wandered out onto the street wondering what to do since he wanted to hear Dr. Torrey at noon.
“While hesitating, he noticed a gentlemen coming down the street–a very ordinary-looking old man. Rev. Forrest had only one idea in his mind–where was Dr. Torrey preaching? He had known him before now and wanted to see him and hear him and say hello. On impulse, then, he stopped the old man and said, ‘Do you live in Los Angeles, sir?’
“‘Yes, sir, I happen to live here. What can I do for you?’
“‘Do you happen to know Dr. R.A. Torrey, the president of this Bible school here?’
“‘Well, yes, I know Dr. Torrey.’
“‘Do you know where he’s preaching at noon every day this week?’
“‘No sir, I’m sorry. Wait a minute. I think it’s the First Methodist Church. It’s right down the street about three blocks. I’m going down that way. Let’s walk down together.’
“As they passed the Bible Institute, Rev. Forrest said, ‘My isn’t that a wonderful institution? I understand Dr. Torrey is president of this school.’
“‘Yes, we’re very proud of that school here in California.’
“‘I understand it was the munificent gift of one man that made it possible–an old fellow gave $600,000 to start it. Isn’t it wonderful for an old man to use his money that way for God?’
“He said, ‘Surely is. We’re glad he did in this case. You interested in that kind of work?’
“‘Very much. We have a school like it in embryo over in Georgia…. Are you interested in this kind of work?’
“‘Yes, said the old man, ‘very much.’ By this time they had arrived at the church. ‘Here,’ he said. ‘There’s the sign. Dr. Torrey speaking here today. I was right after all.’
“Thank you, sir,’ said Rev. Forrest. ‘I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this chance meeting with you. Are you a Christian, sir?’
“He stopped abruptly and said, ‘Yes, sir, I am. However, this is the first time anybody’s ever asked me that question, and I’ll never forget it, sir.’
“‘Well, sir, I’ve enjoyed talking with you. Forrest is my name.’
“‘I’ve enjoyed it, too. Stewart is mine–Lyman Stewart.’
“Rev. Forrest was so surprised and flabbergasted that he couldn’t even say goodbye. Here he’d been saying the very things he’d have liked to tell Mr. Stewart if he’d had an audience, but he’d talked without any embarrassment this way. He was dumbfounded.
“Mr. Stewart went across the street with his shoulders shaking. At first, it looked as though he were choking. After he got to the other curb, he turned around and waved his hand, still chuckling.
“The next day Rev. Forrest was scheduled to speak to the students of the Bible School. When he walked into the office, Dr. Torrey greeted him with the challenge: ‘Say, Forrest, what in the world have you done to Lyman Stewart?’
“Rev. Forrest sputtered, ‘Oh, Dr. Torrey, did I say the wrong thing?’
“‘Wrong thing nothing! He’s raising sand around here. He gave the money to build a Bible school to train young people to do Christian work, and he has to wait for you to come all the way from Georgia to ask him if he’s a Christian. No, you didn’t say the wrong thing, I’ll tell you that!’
“The next day Rev. Forrest left for home. When he looked in his mailbox before departing, he found an envelope. In it was a check for one thousand dollars from Lyman Stewart. There was no letter–just the check.
“On the way east, he stopped in Chicago to speak in the Moody Memorial Church. Rev. Paul Rader, a friend of Rev. Forrest, was then the pastor.
“Just as the congregation was singing the last hymn before the sermon, Rev. Forrest saw someone coming down the aisle. He leaned over and said, ‘Paul, I think that’s William E. Blackstone. Is it?’
“‘I declare I believe it is.’ Rev. Rader dashed down to meet him and bring him up onto the platform.
“Rev. Forrest had met Mr. Blackstone on a previous trip to California. He was a lawyer, into whose hands Mr. Lyman Stewart and his brother Milton had recently put two and a half million dollars to be given for Christian work at home and abroad. Part of that money was used to build a magnificent hospital in the middle of China.
“Mr. Blackstone came up onto the platform. He wore thick glasses and his eyes looked like buckshot. He spoke in a staccato manner. He said, ‘Well, I declare. Forrest. Where did you come from? Lyman Stewart told me to look you up when I came east if I had to go all the way to Georgia to find you–and here you’re the first man I meet that I know. When can you come to see me?’
“Rev. Forrest remembered the two and a half million, and Blackstone knew it.
He grinned at the statement: ‘I’ll come anytime, anywhere, any way you say, Mr. Blackstone.’
“‘Meet me at the Moody Institute tomorrow morning at ten o’clock in the superintendent’s office.’
“‘I’ll be right there, sir.’
“The first thing Mr. Blackstone said when Rev. Forrest walked in the following morning was, ‘Well, Forrest, what are you building down there that needs some money?’
“‘Everything; but the first thing we’re working on now is a dormitory cottage for girls to get them out of tents, shacks, and crowded quarters.’
“‘How much will it cost?’
“‘Forty-five hundred dollars, I estimate, for a two-story frame building.’
“‘I was told to ask what you’re doing and how much it would cost, and tell you to go ahead and finish it, and we’ll pay for it.’
“Rev. Forrest found out afterward it would have been just the same if he had said forty-five thousand.”
“Mr. Stewart became a generous donor to Toccoa Falls Institute. (copy from Achieving the Impossible with God by Lorene Moothart)
Over the years, Stewart Hall served as a womenâ€™s dorm, a music building, and offices. The building served as a dormitory until the flood of 1977, when it was converted into a temporary music building. Stewart Hall was removed about 80 years later to clear the site for the present Woerner World Missions Center.
The Woerner World Mission Center
Groundbreaking took place in February 1995 for the Woerner World Missions Center on the site of the former Stewart Hall. The two-story, 12,000 sq. ft. building contains a 170-seat auditorium, six classrooms, and five offices.