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FSRMC in 1920: The Way We Were

Posted on January 3, 2020 in 100th Anniversary

Fort Sanders Regional 100th Anniversary Graphiccollage of newspaper clippings from the 1920s about Fort Sanders

It was Feb. 23, 1920 when Fort Sanders Hospital opened for public inspection the doors of its sparkling new 65-bed hospital. In doing so, it claimed the promise of a bright future even as it emerged from some of the greatest global disasters the world has known.

The 1920’s was a decade fraught with contradictions, where real life often mirrored Dickens’ fictional prose.  On one hand, the First World War, which claimed 8.5 million lives, had only ended eight months earlier with the Treaty of Versailles; on the other, it was winding down a new war against a deadly global flu epidemic that would kill 50 million around the world.

It was the Depression of 1920-21, quickly followed by an economic boom marked by the Roaring 20s flappers and the Great Gatsby upper crust. It was a time of new-found freedom as women won the right to vote, and a time of temperance and morality as America experimented with Prohibition.

Through it all, Fort Sanders Hospital – now known as Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center –opened with humble beginnings. As we celebrate its centennial, let’s take a closer look at other 1920’s tidbits that show us the way we were:

  • Woodrow Wilson was the 28th president of the United States (1913 to 1921)
  • According to Knoxville-Knox County Planning, the population of the city was 77,818      
  • In local headlines was the opening of the glitzy new Loew theater, a $100,000 project billed as “Knoxville’s Most Palatial Playhouse”
  • In the theater was Cecil B DeMille’s new silent film starring Gloria Swanson, “Male and Female.” Admission was 25 cents for adults, 15 cents for children
  • Fort Sanders Hospital opened just 37 days after Prohibition took effect. The Eighteenth Amendment outlawed the production, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages
  • On Aug. 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote
  • By 1920, nine million vehicles powered by gasoline were on the road. Service stations were opening around the country, selling gasoline for an average of six cents per gallon
  • The number one song in the nation was Al Jolson’s “Swanee”