ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Old Medical College of Georgia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Old Medical College of Georgia
Old Medical College of Georgia
A national historic landmark, the Greek Revival
building was constructed in 1835 to serve as home
to the Medical College of Georgia.
Old Medical College
The building is considered by
some experts to be the finest
example of Green Revival
architecture in Georgia.
Training for Early Doctors
The Medical College used the
facility through the Civil War
and many Confederate
surgeons were trained here.
Old Medical College of Georgia - Augusta, Georgia
Stolen Bodies and a Dark Secret
Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
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The Doors of Learning
The students learned through
dissections, classroom study
and by providing treatment at
two Augusta hospitals.
Stucco over Brick
The building is made of brick,
which was then covered with
stucco to give it a stone-like
The historic Old Medical College of Georgia
was built in 1835 as a center for medicine
and learning. It still stands at 598 Telfair
Street in Augusta and has been designated a
National Historic Landmark.

The beautiful Greek Revival building was
built on land owned by the Trustees of the
Academy of Richmond County and was
designed by Charles Blaney Cluskey, a
well-known Irish-born architect.

Cluskey's beautiful Greek Revival building
contained a dark secret that Augusta would
not discover for more than 50 years. First, a
bit of history...

The Old Medical College is a two story
structure built on a square floor plan. Its front
has a beautiful portico with a pediment
supported by six massive fluted Doric
columns. Although the structure was made of
brick, it was covered with stucco that gives it
a stone-like appearance.

The interior was designed to include lecture
rooms, dissecting rooms, a library and a
museum. Additions were added to the west
and rear of the building in 1869 and 1897

The Old Medical College served today's
Medical College of Georgia from the time of
its completion during the 1830s until 1913
when the school relocated. It was then used
by Richmond Academy for twelve years and
by civic organizations during the 1930s.

Already over 100 years old by the time of
World War II, the Old Medical College was
used to house a USO Canteen, where
volunteers worked hard to lift the spirits of
American soldiers as they passed through
Augusta on their way to Europe, Africa or the

The Sand Hills Garden Club took over the
building in 1948 and preserved it until the
late 1980s when responsibility for its
maintenance was taking over by the Augusta
Council of Garden Clubs. It was used as a
place for hosting meetings, banquets and
other special events.

The years, however, took a toll on the
magnificent old structure. By the late 1980s it
was in need of costly renovations. The
project was undertaken by the Medical
College of Georgia Foundation in 1988 and
the old school building was beautifully
restored for use as a conference and events

A stunning survivor of days gone by, the Old
Medical College of Georgia stands behind a
historic old wall. Historical markers on the
sidewalk tell its story and it is generally
regarded as one of the finest examples of
Greek Revival architecture in Georgia.

During the restoration, however, it was found
that the old building had long hidden a dark
secret. The bones of over 400 people were
found buried in its basement!

The National Park Service reports that the
bones provide proof that students at the
college were using stolen cadavers to
perform dissections, an illegal activity. The
body parts were buried to keep the nefarious
grave robbing a secret.

Such activities gave rise to ghost stories
surrounding the old structure, where it is said
the restless spirits of the dissection subjects
roam the basement and rooms of the Old
Medical College at night. Some even say the
"Resurrection Man" himself still walks there.
Historic Sites of Augusta, Georgia
The grave robbing was carried out in many
cases by a man remembered in Augusta
today as the "Resurrection Man."

Grandison Harris was a 36 year old Gullah
slave purchased by the college in 1852. His
assignment was to rob the graves of
deceased African Americans at Augusta's
Cedar Grove Cemetery.

Although it was illegal to teach slaves to read
and write, Harris was taught to do both by the
faculty and students at the Old Medical
College. The "Resurrection Man" used these
skills to read obituaries and other death
notices. He then went to Cedar Grove to
study the location of the graves of the newly

At night he would remove the bodies and
carry them away in a big sack, always being
careful to put the flowers and other objects of
affection back in their original places.

When the end of the Civil War brought
freedom to black slaves such as Grandison
Harris, he became a paid employee of the
college. For a salary of $8 per month, he
continued to rob the graves of Augusta's
black community.

The practice, which was common at medical
colleges around the world due to a shortage
of legally obtained cadavers, ended for good
in 1889 when the African American residents
of Augusta learned what had been taking
place. There was a near riot.

It is worth noting that Harris himself now
sleeps in a grave at Cedar Grove Cemetery.
He died from heart failure in 1911 at the age
of 95.

The Old Medical College of Georgia stands
at 598 Telfair Street in Augusta. It is open for
self-guided tours by appointment only
Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. - 12 noon. Call
(706) 854-0924.

The structure is easy to view from the
sidewalk and is within the limits of the
nationally-recognized Augusta Downtown
Historic District.