Florence in Lauderdale County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
Florence Synodical Female College
The Cypress Land Company reserved this block for educational 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 1850s.
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 their 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
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 activities were limited and carefully chaperoned. Campus visiting was 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-educational program at the Florence Normal School and the Southern Female University, which opened in 1891, forced closure of the College in 1893. In 1895 the land, buildings, and appurtenances 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.
Location. 34° 48.18′ N, 87° 40.467′ W. Marker is in Florence, Alabama, in Lauderdale County. Marker is at the intersection of North Wood Avenue and Tombigbee Street on North Wood Avenue. Touch for map. The marker is across the street of First Baptist Church and behind the Florence Post Office, also when walking down the sidewalk Wilson Park is behind the marker. Marker is at or near this postal address: 200 North Wood Avenue, Florence AL 35630, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. First Baptist Church 1888 (within shouting distance of this marker); Sculpture Relief Books and Learning (within shouting distance of this marker); Woodrow Wilson Park (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Justice John McKinley Federal Building (about 400 feet away); First Presbyterian Church (about 400 feet away); Wood Avenue Church of Christ (about 400 feet away); Wood Avenue Historic District (about 500 feet away); Regions Bank (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Florence.
Also see . . . Florence Lauderdale Public Library Digital Archives. Picture of Old Synodical Female College (Submitted on August 8, 2011, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa.)
Categories. • Education •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 8, 2011, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 815 times since then. Last updated on June 1, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on August 8, 2011, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. 3. submitted on May 26, 2014, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.