Historic Markers Across Alabama

Huntsville Female Seminary

Marker ID: AHA 
County: Madison
Waymark: None


Side 1:
The Alabama legislature authorized the Seminary on January 15, 1831. A board of trustees owned stock in the enterprise. It replaced the Huntsville Female Academy organized in 1830. The new teaching staff, hired by Trustee James G. Birney, were disciples of Catharine Beecher of the Hartford Female Seminary in Connecticut. They offered a more highly structured and advanced curriculum than most Southern female colleges. This approach proved very popular with students. In September 1836, the Trustees purchased the land on which the school operated. In 1854, George Steele designed a new Gothic facade for the building.

Side 2:
The Seminary closed in 1862, but the building was used as a hospital for smallpox victims during the Civil War. The Seminary reopened in 1867 with the Rev. Henry R. Smith as principal. He was a Presbyterian minister, which may account for the long-held but unsubstantiated belief that the Seminary operated under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church. The Seminary closed in 1875. Between 1875 and 1910, the structure was used for a variety of educational institutions. It was razed by A.M. Booth in 1912. Elements of the original building were used in the present structure built by Mr. Booth as his residence.

End of Huntsville Female Seminary