Freed-Hardeman University traces its origin to the 1869 charter of a private high school and college for Henderson. The first recorded school in Henderson was taught in the latter half of the 1860s in a frame house located on the property where Hall-Roland Hall and the Old Main Administration Building now stand. It was last headed by A. S. Sayle. The Tennessee legislature, on November 30, 1869, incorporated the Henderson Male and Female Institute in an act which authorized the institute to offer high school and college courses of study and to confer degrees. In 1870, the school opened in a two-story frame building on what is now known as the Milan-Sitka property, where it operated for 15 years. In March of 1877, the legislature changed the name to the Henderson Masonic Male and Female Institute, the nominal term Masonic having come into use earlier. Beginning in 1871, Prof. George M. Savage managed the school, and John Bunyan Inman taught and served as principal for ten years. H. G. Savage was chairman of the faculty while his son, George M. Savage, was away during part of this era.