Uplands Village grew out of an American Missionary Association project in 1884 that established the Pleasant Hill Academy, a school founded for Appalachian rural youth to provide a liberal arts education and offer vocational training in agriculture. Soon to follow was the founding of the Pleasant Hill Community Church — this began the close connection between what would become Uplands Village and the Congregational Churches that evolved into today’s United Church of Christ.
In 1917, a woman named May Cravath Wharton, M.D., came to Pleasant Hill when her husband, the Rev. Edwin Wharton, arrived to serve as principal of the Academy. “Doctor May” served as the school doctor, but soon began ministering to the medical needs of the wider community, often traveling on horseback in the middle of the night to respond to health emergencies. This tireless woman found the resources to build a small hospital in Pleasant Hill and went on to found what is now the 182-bed Cumberland Medical Center in nearby Crossville, Tennessee.
Seeing the need to house and care for those who had spent their lives in service to others, including ministers, educators and medical professionals, she built the original Wharton Nursing Home and the first independent living homes surrounding it. Drawing on the words of a favorite poem by James Clark, she named her village “Uplands.” People came, bringing a generous spirit and passion about issues of social justice. It continues to be a place where people live simply and affordably in a beautiful rural setting, knowing healthcare will always be available when needed.
The American Missionary Association founds Pleasant Hill Academy and the Congregational Church of Pleasant Hill (later the United Church of Christ)
Rev. Edwin Wharton and his wife, Dr. May Cravath Wharton, arrive in Pleasant Hill. Rev. Wharton becomes the academy’s principal and Dr. May becomes the school doctor. The academy’s art teacher, Elizabeth Fletcher, becomes a good friend to Dr. May.
Doctor May and Elizabeth Fletcher open Sanex, a two-bed hospital
Cumberland Medical Center in Crossville is dedicated
May Cravath Wharton Nursing Home is dedicated
First residents occupy Fletcher House
A New Beginning
Today, Uplands Village is a vibrant and progressive nonprofit organization managed by United Church Homes and dedicated to continuing the legacy of this remarkable “Doctor Woman of the Cumberlands.” As a Life Plan Community, we offer a full spectrum of residential living accommodations and healthcare services including independent living, assisted living, memory care, long-term care, rehabilitative care and home healthcare services.
While many things about Uplands Village have changed since Doctor May’s day, some things have stood the test of time. Many of our independent living residents, who now live in those same homes Doctor May built, choose to volunteer their time at the present-day Wharton Homes. Our community continues to thrive and we continue to remain true to our founder’s dream of being an affordable retirement and health care choice.
Learn more about our unique history and get a free copy of Doctor Woman of the Cumberlands, the autobiography of Dr. May Cravath Wharton, when you take a tour of our campus.