The University of Tennessee
at Chattanooga


Chattanooga University 1886

    The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga had its beginning August 7, 1872, when a group of twelve clergymen and educators assembled in the Pine Street Methodist Episcopal Church to discuss the possibility of establishing a central southern school for the Holston, Central Tennessee, Alabama, Blue Ridge, Georgia and Virginia conferences of the Methodist Church. A meeting was called for September 19-20, 1872, and a plan for a Central University was endorsed, but the plan was abandoned for the time. In 1880 the Southern Conferences asked the General Conference to instruct the Freedmen's Aid bureau to take charge of the Church's educational work among the white people in the South. The General Conference issued the instruction and the Freedmen's Aid Bureau began a work in addition to its original task. By 1881 the society was ready for the establishment of a southern school and the first duty was selection of a site. Bishop Warren was chairman of a committee from the six conferences which decided upon Chattanooga as the location. In January, 1888, the property which is now the site of the University was purchased for $30,000, one half of which was subscribed by Chattanooga citizens. J. W. Adams and H. S. Chamberlain were active in raising the amount.

Ground was broken in February 1884, and work began on the original building, which was completed in the summer of 1886.

The University opened its doors September 15, 1886, with a faculty of eight members, one of whom was Dr. E. S. Lewis, acting president. One hundred and forty students were enrolled. The school was called Chattanooga University.

At the fall meeting of the Holston Conference in 1888, it was decided for financial reasons to unite Grant Memorial University, which had been established in Athens, Tennessee, with the Chattanooga school under the name Grant Memorial. Scholastic work was divided, the three professional schools of law, medicine and theology were continued in Chattanooga and the College of Liberal Arts was in Athens. After six months the Holston Conference decided that the name Grant Memorial was not distinctive enough to convey the intention of honoring General Grant and it was changed to the U. S. Grant University. The two schools were still included in one name and administration.

In 1897 Bishop Joyce was appointed to Minnesota and he was succeeded as chancellor by Dr. John H. Race. Dr. Race returned the College of Liberal Arts to Chattanooga and emphasized the regular college courses. In 1904 he announced a gift of $50,000 from Dr. D. R. Pearson of Chicago, conditioned upon an additional fund of $150,000. The trustees succeeded in raising the necessary amount.

In 1907 the name was changed again and the school became the University of Chattanooga; with this change began an era of popularity and enthusiastic support. In 1909 citizens of Chattanooga, in appreciation of Dr. Race's service, presented "The President's House" on Oak and Douglas Streets to the Board of Trustees, and in that year the Methodist Episcopal Church deeded all its school property in Chattanooga and Athens to the University. The value was estimated at three quarters of a million dollars.
History of Hamilton County and Chattanooga, TN by Zella Armstrong, 1931