Metro General Hospital

Medical / Tennessee

Metro General Hospital is a former medical center that closed in 1998 in Nashville, Tennessee. The former hospital site has since been redeveloped into the Rolling Hill Mill development.


History

Metro General Hospital began admitting patients as the City Hospital on April 23, 1890. 5 It was situated on a hill overlooking the city that was donated by the state in the 1840s. When it opened at the cost of $30,000, it was Nashville’s first full-service hospital.

City Hospital operated with one physician and seven nurses. 1 Each of the 60 patient rooms had an iron bed and chair.

A training school for nurses opened in 1891 and was the only institution of its type between New Orleans and the Ohio River. 5 The hospital expanded in 1913 and a pediatric ward was added in 1914. City Hospital greatly expanded in 1932 to accommodate 188 beds.

After World War II, Metro General admission rates began declining. 5 Vanderbilt University operated the facility under contract, but it became overextended after the university’s Vanderbilt Hospital saw similar admission rate drops. In May 1954, Vanderbilt proposed a merger with Metro General but the idea was rejected. The nursing school closed in 1970 due to low enrollment.

By the 1980s, Metro General was licensed to hold 213 beds but on average had just 100 patients on a given day. 4

Buildings

  • City Hospital was constructed in 1890 and expanded in 1911 with an East Wing. 8 It was expanded in 1932 along Hermitage Avenue with an Art Deco-styled building.
  • Howse Wilson Hall was built in 1922 as a school for the nurses and enlarged in 1931 when City Hospital expanded. 8
  • The boiler house and powerplant were erected in 1927. 8
  • A one-story streetcar barn constructed in the early 1920s to service and repair the city’s electric streetcars. 8

Meharry Medical College & Hospital

Samuel Meharry, an African-American, founded Meharry Medical College & Hospital, a predominantly-black medical college and hospital in 1876 with a starting pledge of $10,000 by the Freedman’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 2 Meharry founded the Meharry-Hubbard Hospital in 1912 7 and in 1915, the Meharry Medical College & Hospital became an independent institution. 2 Nearly 40% of black physicians and dentists in the nation were Meharry trained, 2 4 but the hospital teetered on financial ruin on several occasions due to low admission rates.

A $30 million patient tower, constructed in 1973, was never fully utilized and the hospital eventually defaulted on the loan. 4 7 It was licensed to hold up to 405 beds but was only staffed for 110. The college lost accreditation in two key medical programs in 1988. 2

Shortly after, Meharry Medical College & Hospital proposed merging into Metro General, with the city owning and operating the combined facility that would be staffed by Meharry doctors. 7 The motion did not pass and afterward, Meharry threatened to relocate to another, more supportive city. 4 In October 1991, city officials approved of a revised plan to merge Meharry Medical College & Hospital with Metro General, with services being phased out of Metro General over a period of two years. 2

In early 1998, Metro General completed its relocation to a renovated George W. Hubbard Hospital on the Meharry Medical College campus, 1 becoming the Nashville General Hospital at Meharry. 6 The former emergency room at Metro General was utilized for a brief period for the Metro Primary Care Center but it closed circa 2000. 5

Redevelopment

The city also received a $1.35 million federal grant in February 2003 to prepare the former Metro General Hospital for redevelopment into Rolling Mill Hill. 3 The name was derived from the mills that were once located in the area that processed corn shipped to Nashville for flour. 5

A site plan for Rolling Mill Hill, completed by RTKL Associates in July, called for the renovation of the original circa 1890 administration building, the circa 1932 Art Deco styled building, the circa 1920s powerplant, and the circa 1930s trolley barn built by the Works Progress Administration. 5 It included room for 588 apartments, 63 loft condominiums, 65 townhouses, 98,630 square feet of office space, 104,020 square feet of retail space, and 150,000 square feet of community space. 8

Renovations of the former hospital and trolley barn site began shortly after and have been ongoing since, with the most recent development being the nine-story, $90 million Peabody Plaza office tower. 9


Gallery

Redevelopment

Historic


Sources

  1. “General Hospital.” Nashville.gov. 18 July 2006 Article.
  2. Christion, Cornell. “Merger may extend Meharry’s rich history of training, healing.” Commercial Appeal (Nashville) 1991 Oct. 30. 19 Feb. 2007.
  3. “City hires planning firm for Rolling Mill Hill site.” Tennessean (Nashville) 26 Mar. 2003. 19 Feb. 2007.
  4. Ajanaku, Karanja A. “Meharry pushes hospital merger, may leave Nashville if plan fails.” Commercial Appeal (Nashville) 1991 March 31. 19 Feb. 2007.
  5. Zeppstaff, George. “Old General Hospital site can be developed, city says.” Tennessean (Nashville) 19 May 2004. 19 Feb. 2007.
  6. Mayor, Evan. “Metro’s $900,000 brownfields grant means end for old General Hospital.” Tennessean (Nashville) 20 July 2004. 19 Feb. 2007.
  7. Packstaff, Todd. “Cash-strapped General needs a savior, a plan.” Tennessean (Nashville) 19 Feb. 2006. 19 Feb. 2007.
  8. “Market Feasibility Study for Rolling Mill Hill.” Economics Research Associates (Washington) and Walker Collaborative (Nashville) June 2003. 19 Feb. 2007 Feasibility study.
  9. Mazza, Sandy. “Construction on Rolling Mill Hill’s newest development is off and running.” Tennessean [Nashville], 24 Apr. 2018.