The doors of the Medical Academy of Georgia opened on October 1, 1829 in Augusta's City Hospital with seven students and three faculty members: Dr. Lewis Ford as professor of materia medica and chemistry and pharmacy, Dr. Antony as professor of institutes, practice of medicine, midwifery, and diseases of women and children, and Dr. I. Garvin as professor of anatomy and surgery. After the Medical College of South Carolina's refusal to accept the academy's students for second-year courses, the General Assembly on December 20, 1829 empowered the trustees to confer the doctorate of medicine and the school's name was changed to the Medical Institute of Georgia. The first commencement was held April 7, 1833 with four students graduating. On Dec. 20, 1833, the institution's name was changed to the Medical College of Georgia by the General Assembly to depict the school's true status and mission.
Dr. Lewis D. Ford (1801-1883)
Dr. Lewis D. Ford was educated in New York and moved south to practice medicine in 1822. He was a founding father of the Medical College of Georgia and taught there for 50 years. He was well known for his benevolence and encouraged this attitude in his students as a duty of the profession. He was an expert on epidemic diseases and advocated better sanitary conditions to improve the health of the citizens. He served as president of the Board of Health of Augusta for several years and was chosen as first president of the Georgia Medical Association when it was organized in 1849. He served on the Augusta city council and was elected mayor in 1846. He served the Confederacy in the Civil War despite being 60 years old at the time. A resolution from the faculty of the Medical College of Georgia upon his death stated "...he will long be remembered as one of the founders of medical science in our State....an early cultivator of correct methods of medical reasoning, and....to the founding of a sound medical philosophy not only in his own State but through the entire South."
Located at 598 Telfair Street, the Old Medical College building was MCG's first academic home. Designed by Charles B. Clusky, the original floor plans included a heating system, a laboratory on the western side of the building, a Roman cement facade, a skylight for the anatomy dissecting room and a grand hall down the center that divided two large lecture halls in the front area. An expansive rotunda and staircase divided the two grand halls. Construction lasted from 1834 to 1836. However, students and faculty moved into the unfinished building in January 1835. Construction costs totaled $14,567. MCG occupied this building for 77 years, vacating when the doors closed for the holidays in December 1912. The building then reverted to the Academy of Richmond County trustees. The Academy of Richmond County used the building for training and teaching until 1926. The Garden Club of Augusta later leased the building with the Augusta Genealogical Society occupying space in it. MCG Foundation presently leases the property.
The first known library for the Medical College of Georgia was located in the Old Medical College building on Telfair Street. In 1834, MCG sent Dr. Louis Alexander Dugas to Europe with $6,324 to purchase "an anatomical museum, chemical apparatus, and library." Dr. Paul Eve first mentioned MCG's library during an opening-day address in which he exclaimed that the library "contained rare and valuable publications both in ancient and modern languages." In 1835, the estate of Dr. William Savage provided the library with its second major influx of material. Dr. Alexander Cunningham offered his bookshelves until the library could purchase shelving to accommodate the new materials.
Starting in 1835, students had full use of the library. In 1840, Dr. Dugas acting as librarian, hand-wrote the Record Book, detailing the location of books, the rules of the library, and the records of patrons. Dr. Dugas availed himself three times a week to check out books to library patrons.