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Walden University

Nashville, Tennessee



Catalogs for Central Tennessee College are available from both Internet Archive and  Jay Stovall profiles the school in Methodist Adventures in Higher Education as does An Era of Progress and Promise.  The Nashville Globe as well as other Black newspapers such as the Colored American from Washington DC and Broad Axe from Chicago covered some school activities. Georgia Patton (right) was one of the first female graduates of Meharry Medical College in 1893.


Nashville Globe states, "Walden University was the first institution organized for the education of colored people in the South."  It was formed in 1865 by the Methodist Episcopal Church as a community school for freed children and adults.  In 1867 it became known as Central Tennessee College to provide teacher education and training in science, agriculture and theology.  It added a preparatory department for those without the background for college.  In 1876 it added Meharry Medical College, one of the first in the South for Blacks.  Advertisements in the Globe in 1907 boasted of thirteen departments, including law, industrial arts, domestic science, commercial, music, and Braden Bible Training.  The Meharry Medical College also offered dentistry, pharmacy and nurse training.  In 1898 Central Tennessee College became Walden University, named for Bishop John Morgan Walden.


The 1884 catalog shows a student body of 360—10 collegiate, 35 preparatory, 2 academic, 235 normal, 46 Common English, 2 law, 31 medical, 31 music, and 31 theological.  An additional 115 preparatory students attended the affiliated West Tennessee Academy at Mason, TN.


Student organizations with religious orientation included the Y.M.C.A., the Haven Missionary Society, the William Taylor Friends of Africa, the College Hill Temperance Society and the Young Women's Christian Temperance Union.  Literary organizations included the Excelsior Literary Society, the Frances Harper Literary Society, and the Lyceum.


Bobby Lovett notes that a demographic shift in black population in Nashville at the end of the century led to the creation of the state-supported Tennessee Normal and Industrial College.  In 1915 Meharry Medical College obtained a separate charter, separating itself from Walden University. So by 1922 the renamed Walden College was reduced to a small two-year school.   Walden College last advertised in December of 1926.


Bricks and Mortar

Classes began in the Andrew Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church.  Then after  occupying the old confederate gun factory, the school purchased property on Maple Street in 1868.  The 1884 catalog lists “five substantial brick edifices.” The medical school was located at the corner of Maple and Chestnut.   Rust Hall, the four-story administration building, housed students on its upper two floors.  When the building burned in 1903, twelve female students were killed and fourteen injured leaping from the building, which had no fire escape. 


In 1922  the college moved to a new location closer to the part of town occupied by Blacks.   After Walden closed, That campus sat empty until 1935, when it was leased and then purchased by Trevecca Nazarene College.

Boarding Students, Literary Department of Walden University. (Era of Progress and Promise <>) accessed 2-13-2017

Buildings of Central Tennessee College in 1884.  Rust Hall is the building to the left.  Catalog (<>  accessed 2-13-2017


The high water mark of football was the 1902 season, which drew a special article in Colored American.  The article notes that all the Walden players were from Meharry Medical College.   The article points out that the team's only loss was to Fisk.  Even though Walden won the game 11-5, the "incompetent referee caused the game to be broken up in a squabble and awarded it to Fisk."  The team looked forward to a game with Shaw, the North Carolina champion.


An article in Broad Axe showed the 1925 schedule, in which Walden College posted a 6-1-1 record, losing only to Roger Williams.


The 1903 Walden football team.  Image from the National Collegiate Athletic Association Football Guide (;view=2up;seq=438) accessed 2-13-2017


College Football Data Warehouse shows a dozen football games for Walden from 1902 until1924. Opponents were generally local--Fisk, Roger Williams, Tennessee A&I, Nashville Athletic Club, and Pearl High School.

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