Bradley Academy


Circa 1809 - 2012

The History of Bradley Academy Museum



Bradley Board Members Activities Contact Us Map Links of Area Interest Pictures Upcoming Events

The American Civil War



James K. Polk


Students of Bradley, c. 1925

E. C. Holloway, Sr.

"Bradley Academy"

415 S. Academy St.
Murfreesboro, TN 37130
(Ph) (615) 867-2633

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Bradley Academy Birthday Celebration
A 200 Year Legacy of Excellence

Bradley Academy has the distinction of being the first school established in Rutherford County. The origin of Bradley Academy as an institution of learning stems from the Congressional Land Grant Act of 1806. In response to this Act the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation establishing an academy in each of the Counties of Tennessee. It is important to remember that Rutherford County was founded only three years earlier. Recently discovered documents now place the planned opening of Bradley Academy as early as 1809; whereas, several existing documents in the past placed the opening in 1811.

The original Bradley Academy building was a small log cabin school near Stones River, near the site of Old Jefferson, the original county seat. The Academy was located on land donated by John Bradley, a Revolutionary War officer; thus, the school name is derived from this benefactor.

Bradley Academy soon established itself as a well known institution of learning in the Middle Tennessee community. James K. Polk and John Bell would become some of the early scholars to attend Bradley Academy during this period of time. Both men would later be nominated by their respective parties for the presidency of the United States. James K. Polk was subsequently elected president of the United States in 1844.

In the late 1820s or early 1830s, a brick Bradley Academy was built. The building hosted the classes of Union University while that institution’s facility was being constructed on Main Street in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Bradley served as a hospital during the smallpox epidemic of 1836 and again during the Battle of Stones River in 1862.

In 1884, Bradley Academy became the first institution in the county to offer formal educational instructions for African American students. At this time, Bradley Academy had three teachers and a total of 150 students in elementary grades. Years later Bradley would evolve to house both elementary and high school students.

The success of Bradley’s academic, athletic, and civic programs renewed African American participation in the education process, thus encouraging enrollment. Recognizing the need for more and better facilities for African American education, the local school board approved the construction of Holloway High School. When Holloway opened its doors in 1928, Bradley once again became an elementary school.

Mrs. Mrytle Lord
Myrtle G. Lord
The Heritage Classroom
(This exhibit was named in her honor)

Mrs. Myrtle G. Lord was born in Dilton, Tennessee to Luther and Catherine Glanton on February 14.  She was the fourth of nine children.  She attended Bradley Academy School first through twelfth grade.  Mrs. Lord received a B.S. degree from A and I College in Nashville.  She also studied at the University of Michigan, Fisk University and Peabody College.  She was a school teacher for 42 years and worked for the recreation department for 52 years.  Mrs. Lord was married to John L. Lord.  An active member of the Church of God, she served as the treasurer of the Church and Sunday School.  She was the chairperson for the Patterson Community Center project, past president of LWV, secretary of ARC, board member of Habitat for Humanity, Bradley Academy Museum, J.C. Beesley Humane Foundation, and Mid-Cumberland Action Agency, a member of the NAACP, and a member of the Rutherford County Teacher's Association.  She also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daily News Journal and SunTrust Bank, the Outstanding Award for African-American Women by Imperial Court Daughters of Isis, and was given the community Award for Distinguished Service by the Murfreesboro City Schools.  Mrs. Lord also served as the coordinator of the Patterson Community Center.  On May 3, 2002, she was inducted into the Tennessee Teachers' Hall of Fame.  The "Myrtle Glanton Lord" Library at the Patterson Community Center was named in her honor.  After her service on the Bradley Academy Museum Board, she continued to be a friend of the Bradley Museum.  Mrs. Lord passed away April 16, 2007.

Restoration In Progress


The above pictures were taken from stories in The Tennesseean and The Daily News Journal about the Restoration of the Bradley Academy Museum.  (L)  Mr. Willie A. McGowan, (M) r-l U. S. Rep. Bart Gordon, Members of the Bradley Academy Historical Association, Mr. Willie McGowan, Mrs. Myrtle Lord, and Mr. Fred Beneby, (R) l-r Mr. Fred Beneby, Mr. Willie McGowan viewing the Heritage Classroom.  These members were the beginning of the restoration process.  It took a lot of hard work, many generous grants & donations, and long volunteer hours to successfully bring this building back to life.  The amount of hard work it took to restore the building is also needed to maintain the Museum.  In order to keep the building and the Association going forward, volunteers are needed for the future.  We would like to get our youth involved, so the future begins now.