In 1889 the Tennessee Medical College (TMC) was founded by Dr. Cawood in Knoxville, Tennessee. Classes began October 1, 1889.
In addition to regular medical coursework the TMC offered dental and nursing components.
The first graduating class, 1890, consisted of 8 students who had been enrolled in other medical schools.
The first year’s enrollment was 47 students, setting a record as the largest class enrolled in the first year of a medical school’s opening.
There were no entrance requirements until 1894.
1891 was the expansion of the school’s facilities with the building of a new five story building specifically designed for the medical school’s needs.
On December 3, 1897 the new building was destroyed by a fire. Classes were moved to a temporary location in West Knoxville. By 1900 a new building was erected on the ashes of the old; and classes resumed.
In 1905 General OO Howard was approached by the TMC and asked to merge the TMC with Lincoln Memorial University. On August 15th the Board approved the merger and appointed a committee to work with the TMC.
On May 15, 1906 a contract was ratified and affirmed; officially making the TMC a department of LMU.
The Medical Department opened it’s enrollment to women in 1908.
In May of 1909 the TMC was officially sold to LMU. (Conflicting information indicates that the TMC was acquired by LMU in 1907.)
The LMU Medical Department was housed in the old TMC building and the LMU hospital which adjoined it.
In the ensuing years financial problems coupled with a flood of bad publicity negatively affected both enrollment and moral.
By May of 1914 the situation had not improved and a special meeting of the Board was called. It was decided that the Medical Department would be closed at the end of the school year. Many of the students transferred to the new college of medicine at the University of Tennessee in Memphis.
On December 12, 1917 the City of Knoxville offered LMU $60,000 for the school’s facilities, including the hospital building. The City upped its offer to $65,000 on December 14th. The offer was accepted and the hospital was officially transferred to the City on December 15th. (Conflicting information indicates that the medical college was sold to the city of Knoxville in 1918.)
Any remaining property was sold off by LMU piecemeal over the next few years. Over time the majority of the buildings have been torn down. As of 2007 only one remains at 114 Dameron Ave., Knoxville. A plaque on the building indicates it was erected in September 1911, as a laboratory.
During its operation the LMU medical collage graduated hundreds of doctors, many of whom staying in the east Tennessee area.
The Nursing Program
The Nursing Program began in the 1902-1903 school year through a generous donation by Col. HH Adams of the New York Department of Hygiene.
The Nursing program offered a complete course in both the theory and the practice of the Nursing profession. The theoretical coursework was completed at LMU in Harrogate. The practical and technical work was completed at the LMU hospital in Knoxville, on Dameron Ave.
By 1908 the Nursing Program, in combination with the Medical Department, enrolled 100 students.
When the Medical College was transferred to the City of Knoxville the Training School for Nurses was continued; housed in the Lincoln Memorial Hospital.
The TMC had been training nurses since 1888. The nursing school was sold along with the hospital in 1918 to the University of Tennessee.
In the 1950’s a pre-professional program was set-up.
In 1992 the Schenck Center for Health Sciences was built to house the Nursing Program and the Allied Health Program. The building was designed with a laboratory for the practice of clinical skills as well as modern classrooms and computer labs.
By 2000 LMU’s Caylor School of Nursing offered both an Associates and Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. The Nursing program worked in association with St. Mary’s Hospital in Knoxville and Baptist Regional Medical Center in Corbin, KY.
More than 700 alumni have entered medical practice in Appalachian communities.
The LMU Hospital
The Hospital was completed in 1917; it was a three story building with 65 beds, a bacteriological and pathological laboratory and an ambulance. The laboratories allowed the hospital to not only make diagnosis for their patents, but also for patients of other institutions and other physicians with no facilities of their own.
In 1905 the Hospital was nearing completion, needing windows and doors, but the funds were running low. A short article was written in the Mountain Herald asking for donations to help complete the Hospital. (This date conflicts with other information about the opening of the Hospital. There was no other mention of the Hospital until 1917 when it was completed.)
It was the policy of the hospital to never turn a patient away; even if all the beds were full or the patient could not pay. The hospital primarily ministered to the mine workers and people living in the mountains.