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History of Lipscomb Academy

The 131-Year Journey



During the decade of the 1890s, 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. After raising $9,000 to purchase land for the campus, the first property actually owned by the school was 2.5 acres on Eighth Avenue near the present site of the Adventure Science Center.


The Nashville Bible School was founded on October 5, 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 $3.00 per month, but no one was refused admittance because of lack of funds. Of the 32 students enrolled during the first session, there were 30 men and two women.


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 1950s.


During the summer months preceding the 1903-04 school year, workmen labored frantically to complete the new buildings in time for the September 22, 1903, opening date. Four buildings were constructed initially: David and Margaret Lipscomb's home, Harding Hall, and dormitories for girls and boys. Harding Hall, named in honor of the school's co-founder, was the school's first administration/classroom building on the new campus. Originally, Harding Hall was only a fraction of the size it is today.


Records indicate that by 1917, there were 35 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 school 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. Margaret Lipscomb continued to live on the campus until her death eight years later. The Lipscomb home, known today as Avalon Hall, is still used for meetings and special events and serves as the office for the head of school.


On January 21, 1924, a new gymnasium, named in honor of 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 but also local teams, 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.


In 1926, boys’ basketball, the first interscholastic sport at David Lipscomb High School, began play.


In 1927, the high school met the qualifications required by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and was accredited by SACS. That accreditation has been maintained since 1927.



In 1946, the first kindergarten class at David Lipscomb Elementary School began.


Acuff Chapel opened in 1958, and home economics, typing, biology, and chemistry labs were added to the course of studies.


After an extensive renovation of Harding Hall, the new high school library opened on the second floor in 1963.


The high school gym opened in April 1979.


On May 31, 1980, David Lipscomb Jr. High School was established with sixth through eighth grades, adding fifth grade in 1981.



On August 21, 1986, David Lipscomb Elementary School moved to a separate location, 4517 Granny White Pike, near the northwest corner of Granny White Pike and Harding Place. The campus is known as the Burton Campus, in honor of Burton School, a Metro Nashville Public School that occupied the building from 1941-1983 and was named for former David Lipscomb College Board Chair A.M. Burton. 



A building project began with a groundbreaking in May 1995. The results of the project were many of the facilities one sees today, including Adams Hall connecting all facilities under one roof.


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.


The school changed its name from David Lipscomb Campus School to Lipscomb Academy (LA) on June 1. David Lipscomb Elementary School became Lipscomb Academy Lower School (LALS), and its campus became the Brewer Campus. The kindergarten and the pre-kindergarten programs became the S.E.E.D. (Seek. Explore. Experiment. Discover.) School.


McCadams Athletic Complex opened in October 2016. The 25,000-square-foot state-of-the-art training facility was built for Lipscomb Academy students in memory of Glenn McCadams, longtime Mustang football coach and athletic director.


A 22,000-square-foot expansion project opened at the Lower School on January 6, 2021.  It featured new classrooms for fifth-grade students; a new cafeteria and learning commons for all Lipscomb Academy Lower School students; and the Solly School, named for the grandson of school donor Jim Griffith, which provides a unique opportunity for students with special needs to receive an exceptional education in an inclusive, integrated Christian community.