This house was built by Dr. Reynold Marvin Kirby-Smith. A widely known physician at Sewanee and a son of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, Dr. Kirby-Smith was a Sewanee staple. He was educated at the Sewanee Military Academy and the University, where he received his Doctor of Medicine in 1895. Dr. Kirby-Smith served with the U. S. Army Medical Corps in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. Although he retired from the Army in 1907, Kirby-Smith continued in the medical reserve and rose to rank of colonel. During World War I he was a surgeon in charge of two medical units of the Red Cross: establishing a field hospital in France and doing emergency service in Serbia during a typhus epidemic. After his active duty retirement in 1907 he became associate professor in the medical department of the University and built this house. The next year he became health officer of the University, a post he held for 40 years. He was also the chief of staff of Emerald Hodgson Hospital. Because of his passion for accuracy, Dr. Kirby-Smith was a treasured source for Sewanee anecdotes. He said his greatest childhood fright was when the McCrady house burned. He was seven then and had hidden in the hedge of the Galleher house.
Dr. Kirby-Smith’s wife, “Miss Maude,” also had an impact on the Sewanee community. She was one of the founders of the Fortnightly Club (a literary society), served as an officer in the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and was a member of St. Augustine’s that kept All Saints Chapel clean. She also served as president of the Civic League. That club ran a tea room and had rummage sales to make money to keep the University Cemetery clean and to see that the University grounds were neat and tidy. At the house she held “Tuesdays at home.” This custom mixed people of different ages and professions; people came to have intelligent talk and to enjoy cheese straws and chocolate cake.
When Dr. Kirby-Smith died in 1962, the house was passed on to his daughter, Catherine “Kiffie” Clark. It was recently bought by the University from the Hursts and is intended to become a guesthouse.
Carpenter, J. (Ed.). (2007). Sewanee Ladies. Sewanee, Tennessee: Proctor's Hall Press.
Chitty, A. B. (1978). Sewanee Sampler. Sewanee, Tennessee: The University Press.
Dr. R. Kirby-Smith Dies at Sewanee. (1962, May 9). Herald Times.