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Since 1875, Knoxville College has been a pillar for social justice, education, and economic building for citizens in the City of Knoxville.


A Rich History


Since 1875 Knoxville College has placed an emphasis on its commitment to social justice, civic involvement, and highlighting a broad education in the arts and sciences.

KC is open to students of diverse backgrounds and cultures who seek a quality liberal arts education. 

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Freshman Class - 1956_edited_edited_edited.jpg

History is not a burden on the memory.
It is an illumination of the

Our Founding

Knoxville College was founded in 1875 as part of the missionary effort of the United Presbyterian Church of North America to promote religious, moral, and educational leadership among the freed men and women.  Our mission today is a direct outgrowth of the purpose of its founding.


Since there were so few blacks in the early days that prepared for higher education; Knoxville College initially offered classes from first grade through college level.  The elementary department was discontinued during the 1926-27 school years, and the high school, or academy, was dropped in 1931.

Historic Registry

Consisting of 58 acres of land that has six of its eighteen buildings listed on the national historic registry - Knoxville College is at the heart of the city’s local historic district.

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The Early Days

The school offered teacher training and full college courses in classics, science, and theology.  There were classes in agriculture, industrial arts, and medicine (1895-1900). 


After the erection of its first building, McKee Hall (the administration building) in 1876, students helped construct most of the other buildings on campus. 


Wallace Hall (1891) and McMillan Chapel (1913) were built with student labor.  A former student, William Thomas Jones, designed McMillan Chapel.  Most of the bricks for these buildings were made by students at the campus brickyard.  In 1904, students made and used or sold one million bricks.


The College also owned some timberland (given to the school by a former student) which was used for its lumber needs.

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Knoxville College opened as a normal school for the training of teachers, but was designated a college in 1877. Dr. John Schouller McCulloch, who had been a chaplain in the Civil War, was called as the College’s first president. 




Between 1902 and 1912, the State of Tennessee contributed to the financial support of the College’s agricultural, industrial and mechanical departments.  This arrangement lasted until the State established Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial College in Nashville.


Gradually, other areas of general and specialized training were discontinued, until by 1931, Knoxville College had become a liberal arts institution.

Educate. Empower . Elevate
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