Green Academy was chartered by the Territorial Legislature as boy’s prep school on November 25, 1812. It was the first educational institution established in Alabama. It was built on the North side of Clinton Avenue between Calhoun Street and White Street. On January 22, 1851, Green Academy opened for students. The academy stayed open until 1862 when it was occupied by Federal Troops.
Many of the incorporators and trustees of Green Academy were early settlers of Madison County. Carolos Green Smith was elected principal in 1853. He gave up the job two years later and went on to be the sixth president of the University of Alabama. G.W. Turner was the assistant principal, in 1862, and added military training to the curriculum at no extra cost to the students. J.H. Brooks was an instructor at Green Academy and a founder. John Grayson was also a founder. Most of the recorded students at Green Academy went on to play important roles in society such as: governors, lawyers, etc. Robert Miller Patton was a student there and went on to become the 20th governor of Alabama. Another student was Edward Asbury O’Neal and he also was the Governor of Alabama not once but twice. George Weeden and Robert Fearn both went on to become colonels in the army. Septimus D. Cabaniss attended Green Academy, and later became a lawyer in Madison County. John Withers Clay went to Green Academy as a boy and grew up to be the publisher and editor of the Huntsville Democrat which was an important Madison County newspaper during the Civil War. Since Green Academy was the only school in the area there were also many others, such as William Holding Echols who became a cotton factor, but their overall roles in society were not as notable as those who became governors and such.
During the Civil War, Green Academy played a large role. It was occupied in April of 1862, and served as the head-quarters for the Ohio Infantry under Col. L.A. Harris. Then on Dec 4, 1863, The Federal Troops occupied Green Academy. The enlisted men camped on the grounds and the officers used the school rooms as quarters. They cut the many trees around the campus for campfires. In 1864, Green Academy was used to quarter black soldiers. Then on Nov 26, 1864 Green Academy burned to the ground.