Dr. Lyman Ward, a Universalist minister from New York, founded the academy as a non-profit, non-denomination, co-educational institution for rural youth.
A charter was granted on February 8, 1901 by the State of Alabama and was incorporated as the “Southern Industrial Institute.” Students paid a small tuition, in addition to raising their own food and performing chores around campus to provide for housing and meals. Dr. Ward funded the academy through donations from philanthropists and businesses from across the United States.
Shortly after the death of Dr. Ward in 1948, the academy changed its name form the Southern Industrial Institute to the Lyman Ward School in 1953. Lyman Ward School, however, adopted a military department in June 1955 and became formally recognized as Lyman Ward Military Academy.
Colonel Wesley P. Smith was elected as President of Lyman Ward Military Academy in 1959. Cadets began to arrive on campus from all fifty states as well as Asia, and Central and South America. The school transitioned from a vocational secondary school for local youth into an international, multi-racial, college preparatory school.
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 strengthened the Lyman Ward Military Academy cadets for acceptance to outstanding colleges and universities throughout the country as well as the national branches of the military.