The Old Hospital

One of my least favorite things about Nashville is that, in its attempt to be a modern New South city, it tries to just bulldoze away as much of the past as it can. One of my favorite things about Nashville is that this bulldozing has not been completely successful. So, a gal can be going to get the new tags for her car and walk right by an old Civil War hospital.

Now, it’s true that pretty much every old, large building in town was used as a hospital during the war. But, as far as I know, there are only two buildings that were specifically built as hospitals still standing (and someone who knows Fisk better than I do is going to have to confirm if I’m right about this): the little white wooden building of Fisk’s campus, along D.B. Todd, kind of across from Albion, and the old Federal Officers’ Hospital up top of the hill on the south side of downtown.

That photo over there to your left is the old Federal Officers’ hospital back when it was new.

And it’s remained a useful building to Nashville. For a while it houses the University of Nashville’s Literary Department and then it was Lindsley Hall when the Peabody Normal College was on this side of town.

It’s still called Lindsley Hall today and it has some job for the city. I guess it’d be easy enough to go see what it is now, but I kind of don’t want to, which is hard to explain. I’m glad that the building has practical uses and continues to be a part of our city, but seeing it used for ordinary things? I just never want this building to be something so familiar to me that I don’t see it any more.

Anyway, I think that photo there is taken from the back side of the building, not only because of the out building, but because the side of the building I took my picture from has this cool window that matches the shape of the doorway.

Had I seen the old picture first, I would have gone around back and confirmed that for you. But I’m pretty sure that the old one is taken from the river side and I know mine is taken from the other side.

But anyway, adventures in historical Nashville make me happy.

8 thoughts on “The Old Hospital

  1. I know what this building is used for now, and I’ll be glad to tell you if you want me to, but it seems like you might not. So I won’t. Unless you ask me to.

    But I WILL tell you this: The old Children’s Museum was in this building for a number of years. When I was a little kid, I came up here from Atlanta to visit cousins and we went to the museum. They had a pair of gen-u-ine shrunken heads in a display case and that is absolutely one of the coolest things I have ever seen in my life.

    There are tons of now-getting-elderly Nashvillians who will tell you the same thing. And many of us wonder if they are still in a vault somewhere at the Adventure Science Center.

  2. “But anyway, adventures in historical Nashville make me happy.” – I think you and J.R. and I need to start a club. :)

  3. David, you would not tease about that, would you? Shrunken heads? That they showed children?! “Oh, let’s have a children’s museum.” “Wonderful idea. Let’s have some trains and maybe a small drinking fountain and… hmm… what else would kids like? …. Oh! Let’s find some human remains and display them!” “But big human remains might frighten the children.” “You’re right. How about some tiny human remains?”

    How does the thought process even go?! “Oh, dead people. Perfect for a children’s museum.”

    Holy cow! This bit of information is going to tickle me all day.

    My guess is that those heads are with the state archaeologist now, a job I’m coming to decide is the coolest in the state.

  4. Janeqpublic, I’m pretty sure we just need to make our club official. I already kind of feel like I’m in one with y’all. Ha ha ha.

  5. True fact: children dig dessicated corpses. Mummies? Yah, you betcha. Shrunken heads? Zowie! Here in Albany, we have a museum that displays a mummified cat and that’s double plus good.

  6. I would like to join your club.

    It’s my understanding that that building antedates the war, was built from 1853-1855 and housed both the collegiate program and the medical program for the University of Nashville during the 1850s and 60s. It would not become the Federal Officers Hospital until the Union occupation of Nashville in 1862. Several years after the war the University of Nashville would be split into 3 separate entities: the Montgomery Bell Academy boys preparatory school , the Peabody Normal School, and the medical school, which became a part of Vanderbilt University. I believe MBA to this day operates under the governance of the Board of Trustess of the University of Nashville. The Peabody Normal School would eventually sell the old campus on College Hill and move across the street from Vanderbilt to the site of the former Roger Williams University. Vanderbilt would continue to operate their medical school from a building on 2nd Ave for some years to come. This was due to its close proximity to what would become Metro General Hospital. That building still stands and is known as Litterer Laboratories, with the words Vanderbilt University etched in stone on its face. During this time Vanderbilt was affiliated with the Methodists and the Methodists raised a great deal of money to build a teaching hospital for Vanderbilt, and the first building of what was supposed to be Galloway Hospital was actually built. It’s the building immediately South of the Howard School in the Dick Fulton Complex. The hospital was never finished and Vanderbilt eventually moved its medical school to the main campus. This is reportedly one of many contributing factors in the University’s split from the Methodist church.

  7. Brandon, with vast knowledge like this, you may be elected vice-president (our president will have to be Tom Wood, whether he wants it or not)!

    So, this leaves only the Fisk building as potentially being erected specifically to serve as a hospital during the war. I wonder if there’s a good way to find out the truth behind this legend. I know Fisk used old barracks when it first opened, so it seems plausible that there could have been a hospital building by the barracks.

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