The U.S. economy was poor in the early 1890s. By November 1894, the price of cotton
had decreased to 5 cents a pound, and business in the South was at a standstill. Due
to the depressed economy and schools adoption of more stringent requirements, the
Medical Department graduated only four doctors in 1895, making it the smallest graduating
class since the first in 1833.
Beginning in 1896, graduates of all medical colleges in Georgia were required to pass an examination by the state Board of Medical Examiners, according to the provisions of a law passed by the General Assembly December 12, 1894. The faculty and the Medical Association of Georgia advocated this requirement to upgrade the standards of medical practices. On March 22, 1896, the custom of a baccalaureate sermon for the seniors was inaugurated at First Presbyterian Church. The Rev. J.T. Plunket delivered the sermon.
The Circular of Information for 1894-1895 is similar to many of today's college catalogs. It announced the Sixty-third Annual Session of the Medical Department of the University of Georgia, which began on October 1, 1894 and ended on April 1, 1895. The Circular of Information listed the requirements for matriculation and graduation, listed tuition costs, provided course descriptions, and featured campus events. The Department charged students $75.00 for lecture tickets, $10.00 for practical anatomy, and a one time fee of $5.00 for matriculation and $30.00 for a diploma.
Dr. Thomas Wright received his MD degree from the Medical Department of the University of Georgia in 1876. He taught at the Medical Department for 47 years, first as professor of anatomy and later as professor of surgery. He was known as a skillful surgeon. Dr. Wright became dean during a national depression, but he improved the college's financial aspects by the time his tenure ended. He was also actively involved in developing University Hospital. Dr. Wright wanted to increase the Medical Departments visibility in the community and was instrumental in the faculty and students wearing caps and gowns for the first time at the 1899 commencement.
Completed in 1894, the second renovation cost $39,000. This project consisted of remodeling the original building and adding a three-story east and west wing. In addition to the new wings, the hospital constructed a sun porch to accommodate 100 indigent and 30 paying patients, an operating room and a 350-seat amphitheatre. Hydraulic elevators, electric bells in all rooms and a telephone system were also included in the construction..
The Board of Health assumed responsibility of the Freedmans Hospital upon construction of the Lamar Hospital in 1895. Caring for individuals with "afflictions of a contagious or infectious nature," the hospital became the Hospital for Contagious and Infectious Diseases. During the smallpox mini-epidemic of 1926, the hospital again served as a "Pest House." The Farmer's Market currently stands on this site.
Dedicated in 1895 and located on Gwinnett Street (Laney-Walker Boulevard), the Lamar Hospital for blacks had a 75-bed capacity. Along with $8,000 from the City Council, the hospital was built with $7,425 from the estate of Gazaway B. Lamar. The estate was "designated for the erection or maintenance of a colored hospital in Augusta." This hospital was equipped with every necessary appliance to treat the sick. Although a fire in 1911 destroyed 75 percent of the hospital and its equipment, no patients were injured. The Haines Institute temporarily housed the patients until the reopening of the Contagious and Infectious Diseases Hospital and the Lamar Wing of University Hospital was built. Tabernacle Baptist Church currently stands on this site.