Marker #1173, "Beaumont College, 1895-1915"

Historical Marker #1173 in Mercer County commemorates the southern women’s institution Beaumont College. One of the most advanced women’s colleges in the South, Beaumont College was located in Mercer County, Kentucky.

The property on which Beaumont College once resided has served many different uses over the years. The land itself is home to a natural salt spring and was used by Native groups, such as the Shawnee, to manufacture salt. When Anglo-American colonists first arrived in Kentucky, they too used the spring to manufacture salt. By 1806, a hotel had been built at the spring.

Eventually, the spring was purchased by Reverend William D. Jones in 1830 to establish a seminary (a nineteenth-century school for women). The property was then sold in 1834 to Harrodsburg lawyer James Harlan. When Harlan moved to Frankfort in 1841, he leased the property to Professor Samuel G. Mullins, who opened the Greenville Institute for Girls. Mullins expanded the property in 1849 with an additional twenty-three acres. Disaster struck on May 19, 1851, when a fire destroyed the buildings on the property. The original wooden structures were replaced with brick, and the property was then bought by Professor John Augustus Williams and his father, Dr. C. E. Williams, in 1856.

The father-son pair opened Daughters College that same year, teaching female students from across the South. Before coming to Kentucky, Professor Williams established Christian College in Missouri in 1851. He was so well liked by his students that at least fifty of them followed him to Daughters College in Kentucky. Professor Williams served as president for nearly the entire duration of the college’s existence and was the main educational manager.

The institution provided women with a level of higher education that was normally unavailable to them. Courses of study included philosophy, English and literature, mathematics, natural sciences, history, ancient and modern languages, fine arts, and Biblical studies. Eventually, Professor Williams retired in 1892 due to poor health, and the college closed. Nevertheless, Daughters College was extremely successful during its short tenure and produced an impressive number of graduates, particularly after the educational changes in Kentucky following the Civil War. Students came to the college from twenty-six states across the South and West, perhaps because the institution was renowned for producing excellent teachers. The number of graduates averaged between two to seventeen per year after 1857, resulting in approximately 350 graduates in the college’s 36-year history.

In 1893, Dr. J. M. Dalton and Miss Ovie Smedley reopened and ran the school as Greenville Springs College, but they were unsuccessful in ensuring the school’s vitality in the long term. In 1894, Colonel Thomas Smith purchased the property and opened Beaumont College. Smith, a former professor at Georgetown College, expanded the curriculum of Daughters College, especially in the subjects of ancient and modern languages and mathematics. He employed a talented staff, many of whom were specialists in their field of study. Particular attention was given to the music department, which featured staff from the best music schools. The college continued to serve students in the South as Daughters College had; unfortunately, like Daughters College, the institution was an individual enterprise and was limited in its growth. Beaumont College eventually closed in 1916 after 23 years of success.

Women’s colleges were more commonplace in the South and Northeast. Georgia Female College, established in 1836, was the first institution to label itself as a college. More women’s colleges opened in the 1850s. Despite the moniker of “college,” men’s and women’s educations were very different. Men were often given more advanced coursework and better opportunities, while female institutions frequently limited their scope to subjects like teaching basic grammar. Both Daughters College and Beaumont College were two of the most successful teaching institutions in the South for women, with coursework matching or nearly matching that of men’s colleges. As with other educational institutions, both for men and women, schooling was available exclusively through payment, enabling only the upper classes and upper-middle classes to afford an education. The private funding model would prove to be the source both institutions’ downfall, as neither could sustain the revenue streams necessary to continue operations.

Daughters College alumni Annie Bell Goddard and Mary Petibone Hardin purchased their former school in 1917. Goddard eventually obtained full ownership of the property, opening Beaumont Inn in 1919. Goddard’s daughter, Pauline Dedman, later took over ownership of the Inn, and her son, T. C. Dedman Jr. and his son Charles, operated the Inn beginning in 1990. The Dedman family still owns and operates the Inn as of 2024.

The marker reads:


Col. and Mrs. Thomas Smith owned and ran this famous girls' school, which offered "art, elocution, a conservatory of music and the strongest of literary courses in preparation for the best American and European schools." Beaumont motto: "Exalted character graced by elegant culture and refined manners." This marker erected by Beaumont College Alumnae-1968.


1806-27 - Greenville Springs Spa;
1806-28 - Christian Baptist School;
1830-33 - Christian Baptist School;
1834-41 - Boyhood home, Supreme Court Justice John Harlan;
1841-56 - Greenville Institute;
1856-93 - Daughters' College;
1893-94 - Young Ladies College;
1895-1915 - Beaumont College;
1916 - Daughters' College;
from 1917 - Beaumont Inn. See over.



Beaumont Inn 638 Beaumont Inn Drive Harrodsburg, KY 40330