NY Architects Design Vanderbilt University’s Historic Peabody College for Teachers
George Peabody College for Teachers moved to the current Peabody campus location in 1914, but the college’s history began much earlier. Originally founded in December 1785 as Davidson Academy (the nation’s fifteenth college), it became Cumberland College in the early 1800s. Cumberland’s charter was altered in 1826, changing the school’s name to University of Nashville.
The University of Nashville was the first college to receive aid from the Peabody Fund, which was established in 1867 by philanthropist George Peabody to help rebuild the South’s educational system after the Civil War. In 1875 the university began to function as a state normal school; after 1889, it was known as Peabody Normal College, and, in 1909, it incorporated as the George Peabody College for Teachers. In 1979, it merged with Vanderbilt University.
Bruce Payne came from the University of Virginia in 1912 to serve as Peabody’s president. America had seen the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and translated Europe’s Ecole des Beaux-Arts into its own “City Beautiful” movement. Payne wanted an “academical village” along the classical lines of Thomas Jefferson’s design for the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Payne hired architects Ludlow and Peabody of New York along with Warren Manning to realize his goal.
Sketches were produced by the prestigious New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White, who went on to design the Cohen Memorial Building and the Peabody Administration facility immediately next door. The National Historic Landmarks program designated the central lawn and surrounding buildings as a historic district in 1965.#