History of Methodist College - UnityPoint Health

History of Methodist College

Methodist College is a four-year college affiliated with UnityPoint Health - Peoria.  Its history dates back more then 120 years when in 1900, the deaconesses of the Methodist Episcopal Church opened the Deaconess Home and Hospital and its School of Nursing. The college is not affiliated with the United Methodist Church or any religious organization.

In March 2000, Methodist College was established in response to national trends affecting changes in nursing education, the nursing profession, and health care delivery.

120 Years - A Look Back

In 1900, the Deaconess Home and Hospital opened in Peoria, Illinois. A small hospital and nurses training school was founded by three Deaconesses of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The original property at 221 N. Glen Oak Avenue, on the bluff over looking the Illinois River, was purchased from Mrs. Lydia Bradley. The original training was for two years and students had to be over 21 years of age. Each student received a monthly stipend of four dollars per month the first year and five dollars per month the second year. This continued for several years until tuition was charged. In 1902, the first five students graduated, May Charlesworth Mowrey (pictured right) became the first alum.

As the hospital and school grew, new buildings were established. By 1968, Methodist Hospital had 640 beds. In 1973, more expansion plans were announced including demolition of Heidrich Hall, home to the School of Nursing. The school was moved to another building. Throughout the years, student nurses lived in a variety of dormitories, one of the most memorable to current alumni being Helen House. Helen House was developed by an initial gift from an anonymous donor and named in honor of a family member of the donor. Helen House even had a tunnel leading to the hospital. Each dormitory had a housemother who was an important part of student life. The housemother took messages, welcomed visitors, and assisted students. They would also make sure students were studying in the evening and not getting into trouble, though we've heard stories of alumni playing practical jokes on the housemothers.

Students also wore uniforms which included a white cap. The uniform went through a series of changes. What began as a white long sleeve dress, became a blue and white check pattern with an apron then to a stripe pattern wash-and-wear material. The first short-sleeve uniform was introduced in 1922 and the first pantsuit-style was allowed in 1972. Throughout the years there was the "White Cap Chorus" and "The Nightingalers" band. The "Stethoscope" served as a student newsletter and the "Premier" and "Quatrefoil" were names for yearbooks. Student Government was established in 1949.

From expansion and new buildings to student activities and moving up days, Methodist has always provided the best education to students. Our history and alumni have built a strong foundation for what is now a premier healthcare college with multiple bachelor degree programs, certificate programs, and Master in Nursing program.