Tennessee School for the Blind

Nashville, Tennessee USA


Tennessee School for the Blind was first conceived by James Champlin who was blind from birth.  He was inspired to start the local institution in Nashville in 1843 after visiting a similar facility in Boston, Boston Asylum for the Blind.

The Facility started as a small private school with support from the First Presbyterian Church.  In 1853, a permanent facility was built on Lebanon Rd. at Asylum St. in Nashville.  In 1861 during the Civil War, the facility and property was appropriated for a military hospital but was destroyed by fire by Federal troops.  After the War, the school struggled to grow until Judge John M. Lea purchased the Claiborne Mansion on Fillmore St. (108 Hermitage Ave.), and donated it to the state for the school. The institution flourished at this location for about 80 years.

In 1949 the State purchased the Clover Bottom Farm in the Donelson suburb of Nashville, setting apart one hundred acres for the campus. In 1952, TSB entered new facilities built on this site. The school underwent a major renovation in 1993, prior to TSB’s Sesquicentennial celebration. The school continues operation at this location serving students on the campus and through outreach programs.


Dickinson + Partners along with OLG engineering provide Campus Utilization Study for the State of Tennessee Department of General Services, and the Department of Education. Tennessee School for the Blind is located at 115 Stewarts Ferry Pike in Nashville, Tennessee.

The overall recommendations of our study prioritize goals of improving and enhancing the students experience while on campus. This may be accomplished, not only with the elements that students interact with directly such as facilities and furnishings, but also less interacted with items that may provide comfort and safety as well as provide staff a better ability to provide an enhance learning experience. Many of the students also reside at the campus, thus making the home environment an important priority that residents interact with 2/3 of their time on campus. Providing all facilities that current and future student families perceive as providing a safe and enriching environment is equally important to the long-term success for the school.

Our recommendations can be prioritized from two main tracts and chosen as appropriate to available funding or other dynamics that may come up over time.

Our first priority recommendation is improvement of the residential facilities for students which will impact more student hours than other priorities within this study. Our recommendation is to provide facilities that more accurately resemble home life with features, finishes and furnishings vs. the more institutional feel of the current facilities.

Our second priority focuses on improving the educational facilities for the students, focusing on utilizing existing facilities on campus.