Do you want to help preserve McMinnville history by building a future walkway?
Under pending construction will be a Memory Brick Walkway for the restoration of the historic building that was The Medical Clinic and Hospital. It served McMinnville for more than 40 years and was built almost 80 years ago.
“This historic building that played such an important part in McMinnville’s history is one of the last Art Deco buildings in Middle Tennessee that has not been changed,” said Rachel Killebrew, a member of the committee charged with restoration. “We are restoring it so nothing interferes with the historic look or the possibility for future Historic Register nomination.”
All materials used were fireproof, with steel girders, walls, ceilings and floors insulated. Cream-faced brick, with stone trimmings and steel constructed window frames, are the main focal points of Art Deco buildings with floors of mastic tile and heated by a steam plant.
Construction of The Medical Clinic and Hospital started on Sept. 23, 1937 by Dr. Charles Meadows “Pete” Clark and Dr. John T. Mason. The doctors moved into their new clinic Dec. 31, 1937. The one-story building contained a large reception room three suites of offices of two rooms each, an X-ray room, dark room, laboratory, large hall, four toilets, recovery room, numerous closets, and a half basement.
“The clinic was so needed in the community that additions to the clinic were planned to occur almost immediately,” said Killebrew.
An operating room and two private rooms were completed May 6, 1938. On that day, a Friday, John Barber Jr. had an appendectomy and Mrs. Jess Lewis was operated on for an appendectomy. Ina Cunningham and Marie Alexander underwent tonsillectomies on the following Tuesday.
The public was invited to attend a formal grand opening May 16. That day also marked the first baby to be born at the hospital to Mr. and Mrs. Joe Finger.
Expansion continued with the addition of a second floor with a wing off the main building giving the hospital four private rooms, two wards of three-bed capacity each, diet kitchen, sterilizing room, operating room, closets, baths and toilets.
Della Flanders Blue was hired as the head nurse. She had nearly seven years of experience in surgical and medical nursing. Nurses reporting to her were Miss Margaret Orin of McMinnville and Miss Lillian Wheeler of Spencer. The nurses were housed in a separate suite on the first floor, where they had two bedrooms, a dressing room and a bath.
The Medical Clinic and Hospital was one of the first in the United States to install a disposal system comprised of an oversized commode, which had bed pan lugs and pressure for cleaning bed pans and urinals to reduce liability of contamination by those handling the vessels.
The facility’s main kitchen and dining room were located in the basement with an all-electric modern kitchen with a seven-foot restaurant refrigerator, electric range with thrift cooker, built-in cabinets and tables.
Dr. Mason sold his half of the business to Dr. Clark in 1939. That same year, David Foster Ray of Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., joined the staff of The Clinic as the laboratory and X-ray technician and was later named hospital administrator.
Dr. Bethel Campbell “B.C.” Smoot started working at hospital in 1941.
In October 1942, excavation for an expansion began that would increase the capacity of the hospital from 12 to 30 beds. The new addition was added to the rear of the building and more than doubled the hospital facility. The goal was to have the addition completed by Feb. 1, 1943. The addition made The Clinic and Hospital one of the largest and most modern in any community of its size in the state.
In October 1946, Dr. Smoot bough one-half undivided interest in The Medical Clinic and Hospital for $20,000.
With the death of Dr. Clark, the property was deeded from Dr. Smoot and the heir of Dr. Clark to S.R. Moore and J.W. Gentry, thus ending The Medical Clinic and Hospital’s service to McMinnville and Warren County. The date of the deed was June 30, 1978.
After changing hands again, the property was purchased by First Presbyterian Church in January 1999. The church has undertaken its preservation by establishing The Clinic Office Building Committee and naming the building “The Clinic Office Building, A place of Healing, Hope and Health” to tie the building to its medical history and to its future as an office building with spaces rented to companies and individuals, both for-profit and not-for-profit.
Killebrew says committee members are attempting to build the history of the building by selling bricks to the doctors, nurses, staff, and patients for a walkway and bricks have already been sold for four of the doctors: Dr. Clark, Dr. Smoot, Dr. Mason, and David Rhea.
There are two sizes of bricks available with 4x8 (three lines of 18 characters each) for $50 and 8x8 (six lines of 18 characters each) for $100.
For more information or to order a brick, visit www.thatsmybrick.com/fpcmcminnville. Bricks can be designed and ordered online with a credit card or you may use a check and send it to the First Presbyterian Church and write “brick sale” in the memo.
For more information or questions, please call the church at 473-2690 Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or Killebrew after hours or weekends at 473-8616 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mary Mason at 474-3100 or email@example.com.