Open main menu

Memorial Hall, Vanderbilt University

Memorial Hall (formerly named Confederate Memorial Hall) is a historic building on the Peabody College campus of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Built in 1935 as a dormitory hall for female descendants of veterans of the Confederate States Army, its name has resulted in multiple lawsuits and student unrest. In August 2016, the university announced it would remove the word Confederate from the building and reimburse the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Memorial Hall
Confederate Memorial Hall
Memorial Hall in 2007 (then known as Confederate Memorial Hall)
General information
Town or cityNashville
CountryUnited States
OwnerVanderbilt University
Design and construction
ArchitectHenry C. Hibbs



The project was initiated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy as early as the mid-1890s, and supported by Peabody College president James D. Porter, a Confederate veteran and former Tennessee governor, in 1902.[1] Edith D. Pope, the second editor of the Confederate Veteran who was a leading member of the Nashville No. 1 chapter of the UDC, played a key role in its construction. Pope and other members of the UDC also made sure the college would teach a course on Southern history.[1]

The construction of Confederate Memorial Hall was supported by a US$50,000 donation from the UDC in 1933.[2][3] The total cost of construction was $140,000.[4] The building was completed in 1935.[5] It was used as a residential building, where female students who descended from Confederate veterans and intended to study for a teaching career were selected by the UDC to live free of charge.[5][2]

Memorial Hall in 2006

The building became part of the campus of Vanderbilt University when the university acquired Peabody College in 1979.[3] By 1988, students held protests on campus, suggesting the name was offensive to black students.[5] As a result, the university added a memorial plaque near the building to contextualize the origin of the name.[5][3]

When Gordon Gee became Chancellor in 2002, he tried to change the name of the building.[2] However, the United Daughters of the Confederacy sued the university in the Davidson County Chancery Court.[2][6] The case went to the Tennessee Supreme Court, and Judge William C. Koch, Jr. sided with the UDC.[2] By 2005, Judge William B. Cain of the Tennessee Court of Appeals concluded that the word Confederate was not about slavery, but about the fallen soldiers of the Confederate States Army, who defended their land against Northern invaders.[3][7] When he suggested Vanderbilt University would have to repay the US$50,000 donation adjusted to inflation, the university dropped the lawsuit.[3] However, the university used the name "Memorial Hall" in their publications.[3]

In November 2015, students asked Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos to change the name on the building, arguing "Vanderbilt refuses to pay $1 million to the Daughters of the Confederacy to divorce this university from its 'racist' past but raised $10 million to renovate campus baseball facilities".[8]

On August 15, 2016, the university announced it would remove the word Confederate from the building after anonymous donors donated US$1.2 million to repay the United Daughters of the Confederacy.[9][10] The UDC accepted the donation "reluctantly".[11] Meanwhile, the university hid the word Confederate with a "temporary covering".[11]

Alumnus Clay Travis, a Fox Sports journalist, criticized his alma mater's decision to remove the word Confederate, comparing them to "Middle Eastern terrorists".[12] In response, Jack Daniel's canceled a US$3,000 promotion deal it had with Travis.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Simpson, John A. (2003). Edith D. Pope and Her Nashville Friends: Guardians of the Lost Cause in the Confederate Veteran. Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press. pp. 98–106. ISBN 9781572332119. OCLC 750779185.
  2. ^ a b c d e Brophy, Alfred L. (Fall 2006). "CONFEDERATE MEMORY AND MONUMENTS: OF JUDICIAL OPINIONS, STATUTES AND BUILDINGS". Journal of International Affairs. 60 (1): 134–136. JSTOR 24358016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Jaschik, Scott (May 5, 2005). "Confederates Defeat Vanderbilt: Appeals court says university must pay -- if it wants to change controversial name of a dormitory". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  4. ^ "Reports at 40th UDC Convention". The Kingsport Times. Kingsport, Tennessee. October 10, 1935. p. 6. Retrieved September 27, 2017 – via
  5. ^ a b c d "Ranking America's Leading Liberal Art Colleges on Their Success in Integrating African Americans". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (8): 86. Winter 2002. JSTOR 3134213.
  6. ^ "Vanderbilt Sued Over Hall's Name Change". The Washington Post. October 18, 2002. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  7. ^ Brophy, Alfred L. (2006). Reparations : Pro and Con. New York City: Oxford University Press. p. 15. ISBN 019530408X. OCLC 62755581.
  8. ^ Woods, Jeff (November 17, 2015). "Vandy's Black Students Put Zeppos On the Spot". Nashville Scene. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  9. ^ Tamburin, Adam (August 15, 2016). "Vanderbilt to remove 'Confederate' from building name". The Tennessean. Retrieved August 15, 2016. Anonymous donors recently gave the university the $1.2 million needed for that purpose; the Vanderbilt Board of Trust authorized the move this summer.
  10. ^ Koren, Marina (August 15, 2016). "The College Dorm and the Confederacy". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 15, 2016. Vanderbilt will return $1.2 million to the Tennessee chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the present value of the $50,000 the group donated to the school in 1933 for the construction of the dorm. [...] The $1.2 million payment will come from anonymous donors who gave specifically for the removal of the inscription, the school said.
  11. ^ a b Tamburin, Adam (August 16, 2016). "Daughters of the Confederacy reluctantly accepts Vanderbilt deal". The Tennessean. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  12. ^ a b Tamburin, Adam (August 17, 2016). "Jack Daniel's nixes Clay Travis deal over 'Confederate' controversy". The Tennessean. Retrieved August 18, 2016.

External linksEdit