The school utilized the grounds of the former Acklen estate and mansion, with a quadrangle of academic and residential buildings being erected over time on the front lawn. It was regarded as a very prestigious "finishing school" by the more aristocratic families of Middle Tennessee, although some students were from considerably farther away.
In 1865, William E. Ward and his wife, Eliza Hudson Ward, opened Ward Seminary for Young Ladies in Nashville, Tennessee, to offer "a full and thorough course of instruction, embracing academic and collegiate work."
In 1870, the Educational Bureau in Washington, D.C., ranked Ward Seminary among the top three educational institutions for women in the nation. The school also placed emphasis on athletics, organizing the first girls' varsity basketball team in the South and one of the first in the nation.
Belmont College for Young Women, founded by Susan L. Heron and Ida E. Hood, opened on September 4, 1890. Modeled on the women’s colleges of the Northeast, the school was established on a 15-acre (61,000 m2) site centered on Belmont, the home of Adelicia Hayes Acklen Cheatham, which was built in 1850.
Ward Seminary and Belmont College for Young Women merged in 1913 to form Ward-Belmont, the first junior college in the South to receive full accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. By the 1920s, it had an enrollment of more than 1,200 women.
In 1951, under financial constraints, Ward-Belmont's campus was sold to the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The campus was used to establish Belmont College (now Belmont University). A new, modern, non-residential girls' high school, Harpeth Hall School, was established on the Estes estate in the affluent Green Hills section of Nashville to take the place of Ward-Belmont.
The original campus remained under the aegis of the Tennessee Baptist Convention until 2007, when Belmont University became independent of its control.
- Carman Barnes, writer
- Jean Faircloth, philanthropist
- Elizabeth P. Farrington, publisher of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Congressional Delegate
- Amy Grant, singer
- Iris Kelso, newspaper journalist and television news correspondent
- Clare Boothe Luce, editor and playwright
- Mary Martin, actress
- Grace Moore, singer
- Minnie Pearl (Sarah Colley Cannon), country music singer
- Lila Acheson Wallace, co-founder of Reader's Digest
- "Belmont College History". Belmont College. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- Harpeth Hall School and Ward-Belmont in the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture
- Belmont University: Ward-Belmont Reunion