Following the closure of the female department at Mississippi College in 1851, the Central Baptist Association founded the Central Female Institute on this site in 1853. The institute provided women and girls primary and secondary education, as well as a two-year college program.
Dr. Walter Hillman resigned his position as a mathematics teacher to serve as the president of the Institute. Hillman served as the president of CFI for 32 years (1855-1887), maintaining the quality of the school and insuring its continuance by personal influence and financial assistance.
The Institute experienced its greatest period of growth and influence between 1880 and 1930. In 1891, A four-story classroom and dormitory building, Adelia Hall, was named for Mrs. Hillman, and in the same year, the Board of Trustees changed the name of CFI to Hillman College to honor the couple who had served so unselfishly.
In 1855 Walter Hillman became president, and upon his retirement in 1887 the school was renamed Hillman College. Mrs. Hillman succeeded her husband as president of the Institute for two years.
Dr. William Tyndale Lowrey served as MC president from 1898-1911 and became president of Hillman in 1906. During his administration Hillman was modernized: steam pipes took the place of stove heating, electric lights the place of oil lamps, and the property was enlarged so the students could have tennis and basketball courts.
Mississippi College acquired Hillman College in 1942, absorbing the college and returning to co-educational enrollment.