January 30, 2009

Postcard: Columbia Female Institute

Columbia, Tennessee
(No postmark - early 1900's)

The Columbia Female Institute was an Episcopal finishing school for girls established in 1835. The school's building, designed after an English castle, was completed in 1838. The school became well known for its high standard of education and was attended by girls from across the country. It was forced to close in 1934, a casualty of the Great Depression. The school building was used for storage and left abandoned until a fire in 1959 burned it to the ground. As a six-year old living in Columbia with my family, I witnessed the Institute burn. Standing on the sidewalk in front of the historic building, we watched as its massive stonewalls were engulfed in flames and crashed to the ground.

An advertisement for the school from the late 1800's read: "The Institute building has long been famed as a model of striking and beautiful architecture. Visitors are charmed with its resemblance to the old castles of song and story, with its towers, turreted walls, and ivy-mantled porches."

— Dan Hardison

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