Following the founding of the City of Florence in March 1818, the first school was established on the John Coffee Plantation, Hickory Hill in 1820. Land was set aside by the Cypress Land Company for educational institutions. By 1850 Locust Hill Academy (1830), the Florence Academy for Young Gentlemen (1846) established by the Presbyterian Church, and the Florence Female Academy (1847) have been established as well as a number of classes taught by private teachers. LaGrange College is established by the Methodist as the first Chartered College in Alabama (1830).
1820 – Colonel George Coulter – Colonel George Coulter, a prominent Florence attorney from Kentucky, had a private library made up of 160 volumes in his home on South Pine Street.
1820 – Coffee Plantation School – Coffee Family Plantation (near the intersection of today’s Cox Creek Parkway and Cloverdale Road) – James Lorance, Teacher.
December 1820 – Lorance School – General John Coffee and his neighbor, Dr. John Bedford, established Lorance School near what is now Cox Creek Parkway. This is believed to have been this area’s first structured school.
1825 – South Cedar School – Rev. Wall – Professor Wall, an Episcopal clergyman, establishes a small school on Cedar Street.
1828 – Vigus School for Boys – “Professor Vigus” opens a school for boys in the building formerly occupied by Rev. Wall’s school.
January 10, 1829 – LaGrange College is established – On January 10th, LaGrange College is established by the Methodists.
1830 – Tinnon School – Professor Tinnon teaches at a school on the corner of Seminary and Pine Streets.
1830 – LaGrange College – Rev. Robert Paine is appointed President of the new college; he also is Professor of Moral Science and Belle Letters. The college opens on January 11th, with seventy students and three faculty members. The main building contains dormitory rooms, a chapel, the President’s office and two lecture halls. Tuition is $10 per session. On January 19th, the State legislature charters LaGrange making it the “First Chartered College in Alabama”. The college is to be “purely literary and scientific”; no specific religious doctrine is to be promoted.
1833 – John Cox’s “Library” of books – A local preacher, John Cox, who lived on West Tuscaloosa Street, housed a collection of more than 96 volumes (books) at the time of his death in 1833.
1833 -Oliver School – Professor Oliver teaches at a log cabin school on South Pine Street (near the present City Hall auditorium).
1834-1843 – Locust Dell Academy – French educator and scientist Prof. Nicholas Marcellus Hentz and his wife, celebrated author Caroline Lee Whiting operate Locust Dell Academy, at what is now the location of Willingham Hall on the University of North Alabama campus.
This picture is located in the scrapbooks compiled by the late Oscar D. Lewis. These books, which contain many interesting articles about this area, are in the local history and genealogy room of the Florence Lauderdale Public Library. The date of publication and name of newspaper are not given.
1837 – Henderson School – Mrs. Henderson from Scotland is the teacher at the school on the Northeast corner of Wilson Park.
1837 – James School – Miss James from Philadelphia opens a school for very young children at the intersection of Pine Street and West Mobile Street.
1840 – Stratton School – Professor Stratton opens a school in the old Oliver building.
May 15, 1846 – Florence Academy for Young Gentlemen – Under the superintendence of Presbyterian Rev. Sloss, Presbyterian Rev. Dr. Macaulay, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, opens the Florence Academy for Young Gentlemen.
July 6, 1846 -Sweetwater Academy -Thomas L. Maddin, Professor, begins the next session of his Sweetwater Academy, two mile east of Florence.
1847 – Cypress Land Company Lot – On College Street between Cherry and Chestnut Streets, a small brick building on a lot is dedicated by Cypress Land Company (future home of Patton School).
1847 – The Florence Female Academy – Under the direction of a Professor Stebbins, The Florence Female Academy opens in brick building on Seminary Street, on the site of the current John McKinley Federal Building.
Photo from the Florence Lauderdale Public Library Collection
February 1848 – Construction Of The New Florence/Lauderdale Public Library – In early February, the construction of the new Florence/Lauderdale Public Library began.