Vanderbilt Medical School in 1925
The transformation of Vanderbilt Medical School from a proprietary school to a state-of-the-art teaching, patient care facility began in 1909, when Abraham Flexner surveyed all medical schools in the United States for the Carnegie Foundation. After visiting Tennessee, he concluded that "the responsibility for medical education in Tennessee should be left to Vanderbilt University."1 As a direct result of Flexner's recommendation, Vanderbilt received its first major grant of $1,000,000 in 1913 for the purpose of modernizing medical education.
In 1920, G. Canby Robinson, Dean at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis was chosen to plan the new medical facility and hire a new full-time faculty. After years of dedication and much effort, Vanderbilt opened its new medical school and hospital on September 16, 1925. This new facility was located adjacent to Vanderbilt's main campus in West Nashville. The plans were drawn by the architectural firm of Coolidge and Shattuck of Boston with Dr. Winford H. Smith acting as consultant in hospital design. The cost of the new Vanderbilt medical school and hospital, which included a separate building for the School of Nursing and a power plant, was $3,350,000.2
A great celebration was held to dedicate the new Vanderbilt Medical School and Hospital. Among the many distinguished attendees was, Abraham Flexner, who gave an address entitled, "Purpose in the American College."
1 Flexner, Abraham. Medical Education in the United States and Canada. A Report to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Bulletin Number 4. New York: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1910.
2 Methods and Problems of Medical Education (Thirteenth Series) Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Nashville, Tennessee.. New York: The Rockefeller Foundation, 1929.
View from 21st and Garland Avenues, taken on November 17, 1924. Photograph by Wiles Studio of Nashville.
View of construction from 21st and Edgehill Avenues. This photograph was taken November 17, 1924, less than a year before a new Vanderbilt Medical Center opened. Photograph by Wiles Studio of Nashville.
View of one of four operating rooms in new Vanderbilt Hospital. The doors are to the anesthesia room, on the left and the scrub room on the right. Photograph by Paul J. Weber, Boston, MA.
Interior view of the hospital entrance. The telephone operator was stationed on the left and knew all staff. Mrs. O'Brien, mother-in-law of Dr. Alfred Blalock, held this positon. She knew all staff by name as well as by voice on the phone. She also issued a key to the library after closing hours to any member of the faculty or house staff. Photograph by Paul J. Weber, Boston, MA.
View of the amphitheatre which served as the central meeting room for whole class exercises, demonstration clinics, lectures, conferences, staff grand rounds, and visition lecturers. Photograph by Paul J. Weber, Boston, MA.
Ward for medical patients. The doors at rear were to the Solarium, which was an open-air porch that held beds for patients undergoing initiation of artificial pneumothorax for pulmonary tuberculosis. Under supervision of Dr. Hollis Johnson. Photograph by Paul J. Weber, Boston, MA.
View from Garland Avenue between the surgical wing on the left and the medical wing on the right. Note the covered walkways between the two wings. Photograph by Paul J. Weber, Boston, MA.
Waiting room, and admitting office of the Out-patient Department. Photograph by Paul J. Weber, Boston, MA.