Marker Monday: Medical College Building

September brings the beginning of another school year and the beginning of the Georgia History Festival. The Georgia History Festival is the signature K-12 educational program of the Georgia Historical Society. This year, the Georgia History Festival theme is “A Legacy of Leadership.” For the month of September, #MarkerMondays will focus on education and highlight leaders in the profession.

Medical College BuildingThis week’s #MarkerMonday highlights the early history of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia. In October 1829, the Medical Academy of Georgia opened in the Augusta City Hospital. In December of that year, the Academy changed its name to the Medical Institute of Georgia after the Georgia General Assembly allowed the school’s Board of Trustees to confer the doctorate of medicine. In January 1835, the school was renamed the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) and moved to an academic building at the corner of 6th and Telfair Streets in Augusta to accommodate more students. Designed by Charles B. Cluskey, the building’s original plans included two large lecture halls, a laboratory, and an anatomy dissecting room with a skylight. At a time when many medical schools relied on demonstrations and lectures, MCG was able to give students a hands-on learning experience by allowing them to perform dissections on cadavers, making it one of the country’s leading medical colleges.

Old Medical College Building on Telfair Street in Augusta, Georgia. Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) Photo from 1934. Public Domain.

The outbreak of the Civil War led to the closing of MCG in February 1861. MCG functioned as the Confederate surgeon’s headquarters and a hospital during the war, and reopened for classes in November 1865. MCG was incorporated into the University of Georgia (UGA) as the Medical Department of UGA in 1873, and began to accept female students in to chemistry classes shortly after. The college began its first formal residency program with City Hospital in 1888. In the late 1880s and early 1890s, the school also began to make changes and improvements to is academic programs, including the addition of a third term, longer term lengths, and stricter graduation standards. Following the end of classes in December 1912, the college vacated the building on Telfair Street after its 77-year residency. MCG began it’s 1913 term in the building formerly housing the Augusta Orphan Asylum and a new hospital (now University Hospital) as the school continued to expand.

Explore the links below to learn more about the History of the Medical College of Georgia.

Full Marker Text

Georgia’s First School of Medicine Historical Marker Text

New Georgia Encyclopedia (Augusta University)

New Georgia Encyclopedia (Georgia Health Sciences University)

New Georgia Encyclopedia (Augusta)

History of the Medical College of Georgia

Augusta University: Medical College of Georgia

Augusta University

Further Reading

Cashin, Edward J. The Story of Augusta. Augusta, Ga.: Richmond County Board of Education, 1980; reprint, Augusta, Ga.: Richmond County Historical Society, 1990.

Lewis, S. Joseph., and Lois Taylor. Ellison. The History of the Medical College of Georgia from 1829-1963: Chronicle of an Institution. Augusta, GA: Georgia Health Sciences University, 2011.

Spalding, Phinizy. The History of the Medical College of Georgia. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987.