The Nashville Bible School was founded in 1891 by two preachers named David Lipscomb and James A. Harding. The school met in a rented house downtown that served as classroom space, offices and cafeteria. Tuition was three dollars per month, but no one was refused admittance because of lack of funds. Thirty-two students were enrolled during the first session, only two of whom were young ladies. During the decade of the 1890's, the Nashville Bible School changed locations three times to accommodate its growing enrollment. Students, most of whom were interested in becoming preachers or missionaries, came from almost every Southern state to study at the feet of David Lipscomb and his brother William. The first property actually owned by the school was two and a half acres on Eighth Avenue near the present site of Greer Stadium. Nine thousand dollars was raised to purchase the campus. By 1896 the school had three divisions: collegiate, intermediate, and primary. Most of the primary students were children of faculty members. Although a section of the school equivalent to high school has always existed, there has not always been a strict curriculum and graduation requirements as seen today. In the very early years of the school, high school students took the courses of their own selection and, when they felt ready, went on to college level courses. High school students lived in dormitories with the college students until the 1950's.
In 1901, David Lipscomb deeded sixty-two acres of his seventy-three acre dairy farm to the school. A neighbor of Brother Lipscomb's, Oscar F. Noel, Sr., gave an adjoining three acres to "further the cause of education." This combined property was considered to be an excellent location, only four miles from the center of town. During the summer months preceding the 1903-04 school year, workmen labored frantically to complete the new buildings in time for the September 22 opening date. Four buildings were constructed initially: David and Margaret Lipscomb's home, Harding Hall, a dormitory for girls, and one for boys. Between the girls' and boys' living quarters was a beautiful park-like area known as "No Man's Land." Only on special occasions were young men permitted in this area, reserved for the ladies. Harding Hall, named in honor of the school's co-founder, was the Early Harding Hall school's first administration/classroom building on the new campus. Originally, Harding Hall was only a fraction of the size it is today. The downstairs area contained recitation rooms (classrooms), and an auditorium occupied the second floor. The president's office was located on the first floor main hall, approximately where the admissions office is today. The front of the building faced north when the building was built in 1903 but has been switched to the south side over the years. By 1909, the school had already outgrown its new quarters, so an addition was built that doubled the size of Harding Hall. The 1911 catalog described it as "six music rooms and two society rooms above, and below there are eight spacious recitation rooms. There are four entrances and three stairways-for the young ladies, young men, and the general public respectively." Several decades passed before young men and young ladies were allowed to use the same stairs or to sit together in chapel. Records indicate that by 1917, there were thirty-five students registered in the category called "sub-freshmen." At the time, high school grades included ninth through twelfth; grammar school consisted of fifth through eighth grades; and primary school was first through fourth grades. Also during the 1917 session, the brotherhood was saddened by the death of David Lipscomb at age 86. This man of faith and vision was appropriately honored when, on March 4, 1918, the Board of Trustees officially changed the name of the school to David Lipscomb College. Mrs. Lipscomb continued to live on the campus until her death eight years later. The Lipscomb home, known today as Avalon Hall, is still used by the school.
On January 21, 1924, a new gymnasium named in honor of Brother A. M. Burton was dedicated. Because it was the newest and nicest facility in town, the gym was in constant use not only by Lipscomb teams but also others, such as the Vanderbilt Commodores. When the gym was built, there were bleachers for spectators. The facility was enlarged in 1936 to add college laboratories, classrooms, and additional seating in the gym.
During the following two decades, Lipscomb encountered numerous hardships, as well as achievements. In 1927, the high school met the qualifications required by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and was accredited by the SACS. That accreditation has been maintained since 1927. Two years later the men's dormitory was completely destroyed by fire. Fortunately the fire occurred during the Christmas holidays so no lives were lost. The following year, in 1930, the ladies' dorm was also consumed by fire. These devastating losses forced the building of two new buildings at a cost of about $250,000.00. The Great Depression, in full swing, made the timing of the vast expenditure all the more serious. By the fall of 1931 the campus boasted a new men's dorm called Elam Hall and a new ladies' facility called Sewell Hall. Some say the largest changes in the history of the school occurred during the late 1940's. There had been talk of Lipscomb becoming a four-year senior college since President Boles had proposed the change in 1929. Nineteen years later, under the leadership of Athens Clay Pullias, the first senior class graduated from David Lipscomb College. The senior college status necessitated the addition of several new buildings. Johnson Hall, Crisman Memorial Library, now Crisman Administration Building, McQuiddy Gymnasium, and the A.M. Burton Administration Building, now the Burton Bible Building were constructed to meet the new needs of the expanded institution. The new college administration building further separated the high school from the college by leaving Harding Hall to the high school's use.
The mid 1900's Front At the end of World War II, several army surplus buildings were purchased by the college, one of which was placed adjacent to Harding Hall. Initially, this building was used as the kindergarten building and for college biology labs. The high school side of the campus continued to grow in the 1950's under the direction of Mack Wayne Craig, principal. The much needed chapel was built and named in honor of long time board member J. E. Acuff. The building of Acuff Chapel in 1959 left the old auditorium on the second floor of Harding Hall vacant. Soon after, in the 1960's, a badly needed men's dormitory, High Rise, was constructed. Harding Hall then underwent a massive refurbishing/renovating procedure comparable to that which the elementary school building received in the last decade. "The place was absolutely gutted," remembers Mack Wayne Craig. "Floors, ceilings, wall, bathrooms, everything was rearranged and replaced." Modern home economics facilities were added, as well as the typing, chemistry, and biology labs. Upstairs a new library and additional classrooms took the space left by the old auditorium. An entirely new front entrance was constructed on the north side of the building for high school students. Elementary students continued to use the south side entrance.
The 1960's seemed to bring radical change to the world, and DLHS was no exception. The "new" Harding Hall was a real morale booster for the students, as was the development of several new sports. Football, girls' basketball and track, and boys' cross country all were instituted or reinstituted during the sixties. There were also bowling and horseback riding teams for a few years.
In 1978, Willard Collins became the fourteenth president of the school. Along with the construction of a new ladies' dormitory, Yearwood Hall, Brother Collins gave unprecedented attention and support to the high school. In 1981 the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades were classified as the middle school. The next year, the fifth grade was added to the middle school. In addition, Richard Jones was appointed the first director of the campus school (K-12) in 1983 and the first K-12 mission statement was soon adopted.
Elementary School Also during the Collins administration, physical growth of the school was evidenced. The long-awaited high school gymnasium became a reality during the 1978-79 school year and was followed four years later by the completion of the Reese Smith athletic complex, formerly known as Maplehurst field. This efficient complex includes a football stadium and field, a track, and baseball field. The facility was named in appreciation of Lipscomb friend and contributor, Reese Smith. The elementary school moved into the old Burton school south of the main campus at the corner of Harding Place and Granny White in September of 1986. It had been completely renovated and restored since the acquisition from the Metropolitan Government.
In 1987, Dr. Harold Hazelip accepted the duties as President and moved Lipscomb to university status. Throughout the Hazelip administration, tremendous numerical growth took place in the K-12. The kindergarten was moved from the Maplehurst property to newly constructed space on the elementary campus, while the middle school (5-8) and high school (9-12) remained in Harding Hall and the collection of basements, residential houses, portables, and other less suitable spaces for classes. Then in 1996, parents, represented by the Lipscomb Parent Advisory Committee (LPAC) joined with the University Board of Trustees and administration to launch a massive building campaign "to provide first-class facilities for a first-class school." This commitment made by all the stakeholders has and continues to provide students with first-class facilities. The project was divided into phases to be easier to manage and construct during the school year. Phase I, completed in August of 1996, included a new entry to the campus on the south side and a classroom building housing twelve classrooms and two science labs.Acuff Chapel - OutsidePhase II, completed in December of 1997, included five classrooms, four science labs, two art labs, middle and high school media centers, middle and high school offices, and four renovated classrooms in the location of the old library on the second floor of Harding Hall. Phase III, completed in January of 1999, included two additional classrooms; a cafeteria for the middle and high school; an auxiliary gymnasium, including a new wrestling gym, weight room, and locker rooms for every team; and a refurbished existing gym. The addition of Phase III provided access to all of our buildings under one roof. With the Lord's blessing and through efforts like "Brick-Buy-Brick" and "The Second Mile Campaign" parents, students, grandparents, and friends of the school made this possible.
In 1997, Dr. Stephen Flatt returned to his alma mater to become President of Lipscomb University. His goal of making students "life-long disciples of Christ" is one of the legacies he began. Dr. Flatt's "Values and Visions" multi-year plan for Lipscomb is well underway.
Also in 1997, Dr. Keith Nikolaus assumed the position of Vice President and Director of the Campus School. His commitment to furthering the efforts of the Campus School is very apparent as you tour the campus and reflect on the past, present, and future of this institution.
As part of Homecoming '99, Adams Hall was dedicated in memory of James E. and Mary Etta Adams. Adams Hall contains all of the new construction that was completed in Phases I through IV. The generosity of the Adams' greatly accelerated the ability to begin construction.
In November, 1999, with the strong support of the "More Than Walls" campaign, the Board of Trustees approved the construction of eleven additional classrooms and the complete renovation of the second floor of Harding Hall. To make way for this, the 75 year old Burton Gym was demolished. These eleven classrooms are adjacent to the west side of Phase I and occupy the footprint where Burton Gym once stood. In May, 2000 approval was granted to begin construction of a new Band classroom, complete with instrument storage, practice rooms, and offices.
The summer of 2000 at the University was one of the most memorable in the school's history. The student center addition and complete three-floor renovation took place, High Rise dormitory was renovated, Yearwood Hall was demolished to make way for the Allen Arena, the parking garage was completed, a turning lane was added to Granny White Pike, and a portion of McQuiddy Gym was demolished. McQuiddy was considerably reduced in size and is still used for practice, intramurals and classes.
A new teacher workroom at the Elementary School was also completed in the fall of 2000. Also during the 2000 school year, the Admissions Office and the Office of Advancement were moved to the front of Harding Hall in renovated facilities near the entrance to the building. The Home Economics Lab was completely renovated, including new cabinetry, flooring, lighting, and appliances during the summer of 2002-03. The next summer, 2003-04, the Multimedia Auditorium was overhauled with new seating, flooring, lighting, and sound and projection equipment. Ongoing needs include a multi-purpose facility to replace Burton Gym and the complete renovation of the first floor of Harding Hall. Plans are also underway to renovate and enlarge the forty-four year old Acuff Chapel to allow for better acoustics, lighting, and modernization.
The curriculum and offerings at the Campus School continue to undergo change and adaptation. Beginning in Fall, 2000, Advanced Placement classes were added in the high school and both women's and men's soccer were added to the athletic offerings. Men's and Women's Bowling were added in 2002-03. Curriculum enhancements included additional Advanced Placement courses, wireless technology, increases in graduation requirements, and elective classes in Bible. The Office of Campus Minister was added to the Campus School in the 2002-03 school year and began providing spiritual counseling to students and families.
In 2005, Dr. Randy Lowry was appointed Lipscomb’s 17th president. Since his appointment, the University has seen tremendous growth under his leadership.
In July of 2008, Dr. Nikolaus resigned as director of the Campus School to return to the classroom, joining the faculty of Lipscomb University’s Department of Education. Dr. Mike Hammond, former Overton High School principal and Dean of Lipscomb University’s College of Education and Professional Studies, was appointed interim director. In 2009, Dr. Hammond was appointed Headmaster of the Campus School.
In 2012 the Stephens Christian Trust, founded by Nashvillian Bill Stephens, gifted the school with $10 million to be used to support the facilities and programs of the Campus School. This gift was the largest single gift in Lipscomb's more than 120-year history.
Stephens’ wife, Neika, has served on the Lipscomb board of trustees for many years. The couple’s service to the university, and especially to the campus school, spans decades. Neika Stephens is the daughter of Charles Brewer for which the landmark Brewer Bell Tower on the Lipscomb campus was named. Her family relationships to the school stretch back to David Lipscomb himself.
Along with improvements to the Campus School came a new name. The school was renamed Lipscomb Academy on June 1, 2013.