The Female Academy, 1825-1891

The FEMALE ACADEMY 1825-1891 was located on the east side of Depot Street opposite the Methodist Church, presently Maple Street opposite the building of the Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation. According to the SOULE COLLEGE historical marker, the FEMALE ACADEMY was organized by Mary and Nancy Banks, teachers. F. N. Butler, Dr. W. R. Rucker, M. B. Murfree, and Dr. James Maney were trustees.

William F. Lytle by written agreement on December 29, 1830 and by registration on February 8, 1832, deeded for one dollar a tract of land eighteen poles east and west by nine poles north and south to Trustees of the MURFREESBORO FEMALE ACADEMY,

William Ledbetter, Charles Ready, Charles Wiles, Henry D. Jamison, John Smith, and Robert Hawkins. The lot of about one acre was on the north side of Murfreesboro opposite the Methodist Church.

On March 21, 1850, William F. Lytle deeded for $400 a lot north of and adjoining the MURFREESBORO FEMALE ACADEMY lot.

Trustees were Charles Ready, Legrand H. Carney, William Spence, Gordon W. Shanklin, Jesse J. Abernathy, and Varner D. Gowen.

The parcel of about one acre measured eighteen poles east and west and eight and one-half poles north and south. The addition made the school property almost square as shown on the 1878 Beers Map. Also shown on the map is the name of the school at that time, COUNTY FEMALE INSTITUTE.

The building was a two-story brick structure of four rooms. Some remodeling may have been done in the 1850’s.

SOULE COLLEGE used the property from 1851-1853. If buildings were added with the addition of acreage, they probably did not survive the devastation of the Civil War. The Beers Map shows only one building.

The curriculum included, in addition to basic courses, “rhetoric, printing, needlework, music, philosophy, and Belles-Lettres.”

In 1891, an Act of the Tennessee Legislature gave the city authority to levy a school tax. The FEMALE ACADEMY property was donated to the City of Murfreesboro and the city elementary school system came into being with MURFREESBORO FREE or PUBLIC SCHOOL which in 1922 became CRICHLOW.

In 1904, when the city razed the building, a poplar stairway from the Academy was bought and used in the home of Harry Fletcher. He built a house in the 300 block of Maple Street in 1905. The residence was demolished in the summer of 1963.

It is possible that the school named the FEMALE COUNTY ACADEMY 1829-1850’s may have been a predecessor of MURFREESBORO FEMALE ACADEMY or that both names may have been applied to the same school on the Depot Street site.

According to sources checked, no early deed nor site has been found for the FEMALE COUNTY ACADEMY which was also in the northern part of Murfreesboro and had a two-story brick building. The 1850 deed attributed to it in some sources is the deed for MURFREESBORO FEMALE ACADEMY.

Furthermore, the teachers who have been listed for the COUNTY FEMALE ACADEMY include, in addition to the Rev. Baker and Miss Keyser, who became Mrs. Baker, and Mr. and Mrs. Blackington, Mr. and Mrs. G. T. Henderson who in 1878 lived on the corner of Lytle and Church Streets, one block from the Depot Street school then called COUNTY FEMALE INSTITUTE.

SOURCES: Deed_BookS, p. 517; Book 4, p. 498. *C. C. Sims, A History of Rutherford County Sims, 1947, pp. 48, 149. *Homer Pittard, “Famous Institutions Once Taught Students 100 Years Ago,” The Daily News Journal, Nov. 13, 1963, p. 1. *Mrs. Dallas Ison, “Murfreesboro City Schools Date Back to Crichiow School,” The Daily News Journal, Nov. 13, 1963, p. 8. MTSTC. Curriculum Laboratory Class under *Miss Mary Hall. “History of Rutherford County” 1938 Typewritten

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