The Academy was founded by Dr. Lyman Ward in 1898 as a non-profit, non-denominational, co-educational institution for rural youth. The original purpose was to provide a secondary education for those with the ability to learn and the willingness to work. A long list of illustrious alumni attests to the need and the effect of the program. A charter was granted in 1901 by the State of Alabama, the school being incorporated in the name of "The Southern Industrial Institute, Inc." Shortly after the death of Dr. Ward in 1948, the military department was added and the school became "Lyman Ward Military Academy."

While keeping pace with modern educational methods over the years, much of the original philosophy of the school's founder has been retained. Precedence is given to the development of Christian ideals and self-reliance. The high standards set by the Academy have fitted Lyman Ward Military Academy students for acceptance by outstanding universities throughout the country.