Huntingdon College was chartered on February 2, 1854, as "Tuskegee Female College" by the Alabama State Legislature and Governor John A. Winston. The first president was Andrew Adgate Lipscomb, a contemporary of Charles Dickens and Harriet Beecher Stowe who was one of the most respected scholars of his time. Dr. Lipscomb laid the foundation of the college as a teaching college rather than a research institution.
In 1872 the name was changed to "Alabama Conference Female College" as the college came under the auspices of the United Methodist Church. As the college and the South struggled to rebuild following the Civil War, it became clear to college leaders that growth and stability were dependent upon relocation to a more populous city--and they chose the state's capital. A 58-acre (235,000 m²) parcel of land on what was then the outskirts of town and is now the beautiful Old Cloverdale neighborhood of Montgomery was selected in 1908. The design for the landscape of the campus was provided by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., who had also planned the Biltmore Estate. The college, renamed once again to "Woman's College of Alabama," moved all of its furniture, lab chemicals, and records into Hamner Hall in Montgomery August 24, 1909, but the building burned to the ground that night, destroying the records of the college's first 50 years and all of its belongings. As the students and President William Martin moved to Sullins College in Virginia for that school year, construction commenced on the college's first building, John Jefferson Flowers Memorial Hall. Completed in 1910 and designed by Harvard architect H. Langford Warren, Flowers Hall was designed to emulate the collegiate Gothic architecture of Oxford and Cambridge, England, and of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and set the tone for the pervasive architectural style of campus buildings henceforth.
The college admitted its first male students in the aftermath of World War I, graduating the first male student in 1934. Realizing that the name Woman's College of Alabama no longer fit its student body, the college's final name change came in 1935 when Huntingdon College was adopted in honor of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, a notable supporter of John Wesley and of Methodism.
Huntingdon today offers approximately 20 academic majors and 14 NCAA-III intercollegiate athletic teams. Since 2004, enrollment has grown by 58% in the traditional day program and 90% overall, through the establishment of the burgeoning Adult Degree Completion Program, now offered in 10 locations across the state. The core curriculum features ACT: The Art of Critical Thinking, beginning with PACT: Practicing the Art of Critical Thinking, is the first semester of enrollment and continuing with critical-thinking-intensive courses throughout the curriculum. An Honors Program, Departmental Honors, Senior Capstone experiences, the Staton Center for Learning Enrichment, and the Center for Career and Vocation are central to academic life at Huntingdon. Long-standing strengths in the pre-medical sciences and pre-law have led to successful graduate placement into professional, medical and law schools, and seminaries. In 2010, the College continued a 14-year tradition of 100% placement among candidates who wished to enter pharmacy schools.