Founded in 1912, the new college in Memphis was originally called the West Tennessee Normal School — "normal" being a quaint term for a teacher's college. The area around the new school, in fact, became known as "Normal" but it got its name from the school, not the other way around.
In 1925 — oh, I could look up the exact date if I had the energy, but it's been quite a day — the name was changed by somebody to West Tennessee State Teachers College, which eventually became Memphis State College, which eventually became Memphis State University, which eventually became the University of Memphis.
During all this time, my family's endeavors to name the place Lauderdale University or even The Lauderdale Land 'o Learning were repeatedly rejected. It's a slight that we've never really gotten over.
But anyway, one day I turned up this fine old postcard which showed the campus as it was supposed to look when it was first laid out. I suppose I don't really need to tell you that it bears almost no resemblance to the present university. If you squint, you can dimly recognize the outlines of the present-day Administration Building, which was flanked, then and now, by other two- or three-story red-brick structures. But none of the buildings, then and now, had the lofty spires and domes and other fancy ornamentation shown on the postcard.
And nobody, as far as I know, ever constructed the horseshoe-shaped drive that loops around the main portion of the campus. Though it's never too late to start, is it?
Just as interesting, I think, is the number of students and vehicles shown in the old postcard. For such a large campus, it seems the artist never expected more than maybe 100 students, with perhaps half-a-dozen horsedrawn wagons ambling around the streets and roads.