Appalachian Bible College—originally known as Appalachian Bible Institute—opened at Sylvester in Boone County on September 5, 1950. The nondenominational, independent Christian college was the brainchild of Raleigh County minister Robert Guelich.
Before the school opened, southern West Virginians had to travel all the way to Pikeville, Kentucky, if they wanted to take advanced Bible studies.
Guelich persuaded the Rev. Lester Pipkin of Minnesota to relocate to West Virginia and open a Bible college. They converted a vacant two-story building in Sylvester into a dormitory, dining hall, and office, and furnished it with war-surplus materials. They set up classrooms in the basement of Guelich’s church at Pettus, four miles away—earning the school the nickname of “the longest campus in the world.”
By 1954, the school’s student body had reached 40, and more space was needed. The school bought a 95-acre farm near Bradley in Raleigh County and opened its new campus in 1956. Today, enrollment at Appalachian Bible College is about 300. Its campus features a combined chapel and music hall, an administration-library-dining complex, women’s and men’s dormitories, a classroom building, and a gymnasium-conference center.