Historic Markers Across Alabama

Florence Synodical Female College —

Marker ID:  
Location: at the intersection of North Wood Avenue and Tombigbee Street, Florence, Alabama
County: Lauderdale
Coordinates: N 34° 48.18    W 087° 40.467
  34.803    -87.67445
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMHG05


Florence Synodical Female
College (1855~1893)

Side 1:
The Cypress Land Company reserved this block for education purposes. In 1847 the Florence Female Academy, consisting of two buildings, was established. The Academy was soon in financial trouble Despite a $20,000 contribution from the City of Florence. the Academy ceased operation in the early 1850's.

At the request of the City, the Academy Board of Trustees turned the land and building over to the Presbyterian Synod of Nashville on November 25, 1854. The Florence Synodical Female College was chartered by the Alabama Legislature in December, 1855 and received its first students that same year. White female applicants were accepted without regard to class or religious denomination, although daughters of Presbyterian clergy received preference. The stated aim of the College was to train young ladies for proper sphere in the home and drawing room. Dr. William H. Mitchell, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Florence, served as president of the academy until 1871. Five other presidents followed him. The Board of Trustees consisted of fifteen prominent business men.

Robert M. Patton, later governor of Alabama, was Chairman of the Board.

The education building, facing Wilson Park (then called the Public Walk), consisted of classrooms, offices, and a library. The dormitory faced Seminary Street where the post office is currently located.

Side 2:
Students often used the Public Walk for recreation. The city assisted this activity by planting 100 trees and fencing the area to keep the cows out.

FSFC faculty and staff usually included six or seven teaching faculty members plus a cook and janitor. The faculty taught in departments of language, literature, natural science, mathematics, music and a preparatory department. Enrollment averaged about 100 and never exceeded 140 students. Students came from all parts of the South, but mainly from more affluent families of Northwest Alabama.

Student life and activities were strictly controlled. Off campus generally limited to family members. During some years students were required to wear uniforms to discourage extravagant dressing.

Financial troubles and competition from the state supported co-female University, which opened in 1891, forced closure of the College in 1893. In 1895 the land, buildings, and appurtenance were sold to satisfy financial obligations.

The dormitory was demolished in 1911 clearing the way for the federal building. The educational building was occupied by several businesses and the Elks Club until razed in 1972.

Erected 2011 by Florence Historical Board Florence Alabama.

End of Florence Synodical Female College —