TMC’s History Recapped; new Building Underway; Fall Term Begins (1890)

The Medical College. A Grand new Building now Nearing Completion. Description of the House. There Will Be Well Arranged Lecture Rooms and Laboratories with Amphitheatres and Opera Chairs. Most Flattering Outlook for the College — the Preliminary Session to Begin Monday, September 8th

Pluck and energy coupled with brains, always succeed. A little more than a year ago the propriety of establishing a medical college was discussed by a few of our most prominent medical men the suggestion having first been introduced by Dr. R. M. C. Hill, who had but a few years before located here. Gradually the movement took form Dr. Hill had interested several other physicians in the enterprise and a meeting was had. The germ of the institution had been planted and planted in soil rich in the elements of pluck and energy. The first meeting occurred early in the Spring and by the middle of April the Tennessee Medical college was established, a faculty selected, and work began in earnest. The old Cowan & Dickenson structure on the corner of Gay and Main streets was secured and soon metamorphosed into a veritable college building, with amphitheatres, laboratories and dissecting rooms.

Announcements were issued, and when the preliminary term opened the following September, the faculty was gladdened by the very large attendance of about twenty students. From now on the success of the school was an assured fact. Many medical students en route to other points to attend colleges, stopped off in Knoxville to inspect the new school and hear the manner of lecturing. Each was so favorably impressed with the thoroughness of the course that the roll of matriculates soon reached the unusually large number of forty-seven — two numerals that break the record of first year classes in schools of this kind established in this country for the past twenty-five years.

Everybody in Knoxville knows the stormy scenes around the college buildings last winter when the police and constabulary raided the premises time and again searching for dead bodies that were supposed to be in the dissecting room and of the final triumph of the College authorities when they obtained an injunction restraining magistrates from issuing search warrants for dead bodies.

At the close of the term in March last the college conferred the degree of Doctor of Medicine on eight successful candidates. These young men had attended their first course of lectures in different medical schools throughout the country — some in Louisville, Nashville, Baltimore, Atlanta and at Philadelphia.

Soon after the inception of the college and before the charter was obtained, the need of a thoroughly equipped dental college was recognized and the founders of the school established a dental department and organized a dental faculty. The need was demonstrated when the college opened by an attendance in this department of eleven students in dentistry. The department was well equipped and able men called to fill the chairs in the faculty. Degrees were conferred on three successful candidates at the close of the term.

The founders of the college established a high standard of requirement and from the character of the men in the faculty, the public can be assured that they will stand steadfastly to their purpose of elevating the plane of medical teaching in the south. It was early demonstrated that the temporary quarters at the corner of Gay and Main streets would be inadequate for the needs of the college the coming session and the faculty set about planning a new building — one that would be an improvement upon anything of the kind in the south. A lot fronting two hundred feet on Cleveland street and running back one hundred and ninety feet on Dameron avenue was purchased and paid for in cash. Mr. Chamberlain, architect, of this city, submitted plans for a college building and they were accepted. The contract for erecting the building was let to Stephenson Getaz & Co., and the work of excavating for the basement was begun in the spring.

TMC in 1890

A reporter of the Journal was shown through the partly constructed temple of medical learning yesterday, by the Registrar Dr. Ristine and a brief description of the building is given below. As may be seen from the cut, the structure is what is known as the romanesque style of architecture and is constructed of brick with stone trimmings. The building occupies a very commanding position at the corner of Cleveland street and Dameron avenue, just one square west of Central avenue. The electric cars will be running on Central avenue by the first of October, so that the college building will be easily accesible [sic] from all parts of the city. The building has a frontage of seventy feet and is to be five stories high when completed.

The entrance is wide and forms a heavy stone arch, upon which is engraved the name of the college. A wide hall leading in two directions — on through the building, and the other to the main stairway, is entered by a vestibule from the main entrances. From the hall is entered on the first floor the chemical laboratory, students waiting room registrar’s office and professor’s private room leading into the arena of the auditorium or lower lecture room. The chemical laboratory, large and commodius [sic], is 26 feet wide and 16 feet long and is to be furnished with tables of a very unique design and so arranged that students while at work can witness experiments carried on at the lecturer’s stand. The chemical laboratory has connected with it a “fume-room,” and is to have every improvement and convenience known in teaching. In this room all of the lectures on chemistry will be delivered by the professor of that branch.

The second floor is reached, as are all of those above, by the main stairway, which is wide and of easy ascent. From the hall on the second floor entrances are found to [sic] the auditoriums or lower lecture room, museum faculty room and students’ library and reading room.

The auditorium will seat nearly four hundred persons and is to be furnished with opera chairs. The seats are arranged in rows forming a segment of a circle and each row of seats is eighteen inches above the other, so that a student sitting on the seat on the top row is about twenty feet above the lecturer as he stands in the rena [sic]. The auditorium is twenty-eight feet high and it is believed that the accoustic [sic] properties of the room will be perfect. The light is so arranged that it falls upon the table in front of the lecturer and the ventilation is thought to be all that can be desired. The museum occupies two stories and is a long, well lighted and capacious room, having a gallery on the side and the two ends. In this room will be deposited specimens in normal and pathological anatomy, diagrams and paintings, wet and dry anatomical specimens and preparations; wax and papiér mache models and all in neat glass cases. The student’s reading room is to have a library of standard medical works and medical Journals.

The pathological and physiological laboratories, two well lighted rooms together with the microcophical [?] laboratory are situated on the third floor.

The fourth floor contains the amphi-theater or upper lecture room, dissecting room and microscopical and bacteriaological [sic] laboratories.

The upper lecture room is patterned after the old Roman amphi-theaters, the seats being arranged in circular rows, each row raised above the other as in the auditorium. Here the lecturer stands in the arena while the class sits around him. This room is lighted from a sky-light twenty-nine feet above the arena and side window. It will seat nearly four hundred students and it is to be furnished with opera chairs. Only didactic lectures will be delivered in the amphitheatre, while the auditorium will be used for both didactic and clinical lectures. At the end of one lecture the class changes to the other lecture room. While a lecture is being delivered in one lecture room to the medical class another is being delivered to the class in dentistry in still another lecture room.

The dissecting room is large, airy and well lighted. A shaft with an elevator runs to the injecting room in the basement and subjects for dissection are lifted up through it. The entire building is to be lighted by electric light and gas and heated by steam. Altogether the building is unsurpassed in its appointments for medical and dental teaching, and Knoxville may well be proud of so flourshing [sic] an institution. The building is to be completed by the first of October, but until then the lectures for the preliminary course will be delivered in Patterson’s Hall. The preliminary term opens on the eighth of September, and the regular winter session opens on Wednesday, October first, and ends March 16, 1891. It is proposed to raise a subscribtion [sic] fund to build a pavillion [sic] hospital next month and the citizens of Knoxville ought to subscribe liberally to so worthy an object. The promoters of the school have not asked for a cent to build the college, but have gone down into their own pockets and supplied the “needful.” From present estimates the class will exceed 125 for the next winter term and may reach 150. Every merchant in the city must profit by such an influx of students in our midst, so that all ought to be interested in the success of the college.

Students contemplating a course of lectures this fall should address Dr. C. E. Ristine, registrar, and receive a catalogue of the college, containing full instruction.

Source: Knoxville Daily Journal and Tribune, August 31, 1890, page 7


The Medical College.  Preliminary Term Closes To-day — Winter Term Begins To-Morrow

The preliminary term of the Tennessee Medical College will close to-day at 12 o’clock and the regular winter session begins to-morrow morning at nine o’clock.  For the present, and until the new college is completed the lectures will be delivered in Patterson’s hall, corner of Broad and Crozier streets.  The new building will soon be completed and will be the most magnificent building of its kind in the south.  The Journal published some time ago a full description of the new edifice.

The faculty has added largely to the equipment of the school and when their new house is ready for occupancy the school will compare favorably with the best institutions for medical teaching in the country.  Students are arriving daily and the outlook for a large class this fall is exceedingly flattering.

Source:  Knoxville Daily Journal and Tribune, September 30, 1890, page 3

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