In 1893 a group of men prominent in the professional, industrial, and civic life of Chattanooga invited noted educator John Roy Baylor to the city and cleared the way for the founding of the University School. Among the founders were Dr. J. W. Bachman, Robert Pritchard, Theodore G. Montague, H. S. Chamberlain, Foster V. Brown, and Lewis M. Coleman. By 1897 Dr. Baylor's name would be forever associated with his school.
The school began with only thirty-one students and a determination to educate young men in preparation for entrance into universities throughout the United States. For the first eighteen years, the school was located in downtown Chattanooga. In 1915 the school moved to its present location, a thirty-acre campus on the banks of the Tennessee River, five miles from downtown Chattanooga. Locals referred to the site as Locust Hill.
Among the many men who figured prominently in the history of Baylor School, John Thomas Lupton, Chattanooga capitalist and philanthropist, played an essential role in translating Dr. Baylor's dream into bricks and his vision into stone and mortar. Lupton headed a group of men whose generosity made it possible to relocate the school and expand its program.
Baylor School has undergone many changes during its long history. In 1917 the school established a military tradition that ended in 1971. From the three original buildings on Locust Hill, the physical plant has grown to more than twenty-four academic and athletic buildings and numerous playing fields. In 1985 Baylor's Board of Trustees decided to make the school coeducational. Today, it is close to achieving a fifty-fifty ratio of male-to-female students.
In 2000 approximately eight hundred students were enrolled at Baylor, and the campus had grown to encompass six hundred acres, including new facilities for Fine Arts and Science and Technology. Baylor School is a fully accredited, coeducational, independent college-preparatory school for students in grades seven through twelve. It offers a boarding program for students in grades nine through twelve, serving not only students from the Southeast, but those from across the United States and foreign countries. Baylor graduates attend top-ranked colleges and universities throughout the United States. In 1954 Baylor was invited to become one of the pilot schools in the national experiment known as the School and College Study of Admission with Advance Standing (now known as the Advanced Placement Program).
Athletics became a formal part of the Baylor experience in 1907. Since that time Baylor has become a school nationally recognized for its outstanding athletic program and facilities. The school's athletic curriculum emphasizes both interscholastic and intramural activities. Baylor's athletes represent the school well, having won state and national titles in many sports.
In 1993 Baylor celebrated its Centennial. It is the oldest independent school in Chattanooga and one of the oldest in Tennessee.