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Tennessee Military Institute

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A group of an army at the Tennessee Military Institute

Headquarters  Sweetwater, Tennessee, United States

Similar  Butch Baker, Dale Jones (American football), Weston Ochse

Tennessee military institute

Tennessee Military Institute (TMI) was a military academy in Sweetwater, Tennessee.


Sweetwater Military College

Tennessee Military Institute

The school was founded as Sweetwater Military College in 1874 by J. Lynn Bachman, a Presbyterian minister, with the avowed purpose of providing a place "where young men could have good educational advantages under safe and wholesome influences." The campus was originally located in a small building, which no longer exists, on College Street in Sweetwater. Bachman remained president until 1902, when he was replaced by Col. O. C. Hulvey.

Front view of the Tennessee Military Institute

The name of the school was changed to Tennessee Military Institute in 1909. It was known by this name for most of its life. Due to the "TMI" acronym, it was often jokingly referred to as "Ten Million Idiots" by locals and students alike. 1909 is also when the school moved to its final campus, which eventually consisted of thirteen buildings mostly contained in a single quadrangle surrounding a courtyard, and which was located on 144 acres (58 ha) on U.S. Route 11. U.S. Army officers began directing military instruction in 1911, and ROTC began in 1918 after World War I, as Hulvey's tenure as president ended.

Entrance to the main building of Tennessee Military Institute

Col. C.R. Endsley was TMI's longest serving president, from 1918 to 1956. He was succeeded by his son and namesake, Col. C.R. Endsley Jr. Endsley Jr. was one of the school's longest-serving administrators, serving as commandant from 1934 to 1956, as president from 1956 to 1971, and as head of the chemistry and physics department from 1971 to 1981. Thomas C. Dula succeeded Endsley Jr. as president, serving until the school went coed in 1973, when Sanford Gray became president, a role he filled until the school's closing. Col. C.W. Price was another of the school's longest-serving administrators, serving as vice-president from 1920 to 1966. David N. McQuiddy was another, who served TMI from 1937 to 1981 as Latin and English headmaster, admissions director, director of testing, and special advisor to the guidance department. TMI's sports teams were called the Eagles, and their colors were orange and blue.

TMI Academy

Tennessee Military Institute

In 1975, the school ceased being a military academy, becoming a traditional secondary school/college preparatory school, though still a boarding school. To reflect this, the name of the school was changed to TMI Academy. Curriculum started as early as fifth grade some years, continuing through twelfth grade. Some years a "post-graduate" curriculum was also offered. Due to financial problems, TMI finally closed for good in 1988 after 114 years of continuous operation. This was in spite of financial backing from actor Burt Reynolds, whose nephew attended the school.

Later years

The campus was acquired by Tennessee Meiji Gakuin High School (TMG) in 1994. Due to declining enrollment TMG closed in 2007.

In 2011, the campus was given as a gift to a group called the Sweet Water Sustainability Institute. The validity of this transaction was later successfully challenged in court, and ownership of the property was transferred to Enota Institute Inc.

The campus has been vacant since 2007, and the buildings have fallen into disrepair. As of 2015, the campus is included on the annual "Endangered Heritage" list of the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance as an endangered historic building and/or place. In 2015, Enota announced plans to turn the facility into a place to serve veterans, including those suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, for "healing" and retraining. Enota has applied for grants to help cover the estimated $8-12 million necessary to restore the property. Not surprisingly based on its age, the abandoned campus has drawn the attention of devotees of the supernatural.

Notable alumni

  • D. Mead Johnson, chief executive of Mead Johnson (a dormitory at the school carried his name)
  • Butch Baker, country music singer (he performed at the TMG grand opening)
  • Jay Baker (Butch's younger brother), actor and television host
  • Dale Jones, American football coach
  • References

    Tennessee Military Institute Wikipedia