Lawrenceville Female Seminary
455 South Perry Street, Lawrenceville
The Lawrenceville Female Seminary was originally built as a finishing school for the girls living in this area. The town of Lawrenceville was incorporated in 1821, and by the late 1830s the citizens of the county felt that it had changed from a rough frontier outpost to something a little more settled. Therefore, the leading citizens decided that it was necessary to build a school for the young women of the county. The Female Seminary was incorporated in 1837 by the Georgia General Assembly and a structure was built in 1838 by Daniel Killian, general contractor. The building was completed on July 31, 1838, and the doors first opened for classes on September 24, 1838.
This structure, however, was destroyed by fire sometime between October 23, 1850 and July 21, 1851, and a new seminary was erected between 1853 and 1855. This is the building that is standing today. It was built in conjunction with the newly-founded Lawrenceville Masonic Lodge No. 131, Free and Accepted Masons, with the agreement that girls would be instructed on the first floor and the masons would meet on the second floor ( acting as caretakers for the building).
The girls who attended the Female Seminary came from surrounding farms or were daughters of merchants, attorneys, and doctors from nearby towns. It served as an alternative for girls who were typically educated at home. Miss Martha Wells served as the school’s first teacher, as well as the first principal. However, as was typical in this period of history, the teachers were overwhelmingly male in number at the Female Seminary. The principal’s office was located on the second floor, and he/she would step out of the office each school day and tug on the bell rope, signaling the girls to school.
It seems that the last classes were held around 1888. The Female Seminary building was then used over the next half-century as a “civic center” for the community. The building fell into disrepair and was almost sold to a Dairy Queen franchise in 1971. Local citizens, spear-headed by Annette Williams Tucker, put up earnest money and got the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was restored as nearly as possible to its original appearance.
For more information visit www.gwinnettehc.org or call 770.904.3500.