The town of Hinesville was established in 1837 and shortly thereafter, in 1841, the Hinesville Institute (or Academy) was established with Colonel James Sharpe Bradwell as its first headmaster. The first building was erected at a cost of $349.12 1/2 and stood on the Courthouse Square where Bradwell Park is now located.
Hinesville Institute was closed during the War Between the States, but was reorganized and reopened in 1871 by Captain Samuel Dowse Bradwell, C.S.A., son of James Sharpe Bradwell. The name Bradwell Institute was given the reorganized school honoring Colonel Bradwell, the first headmaster of the Hinesville Institute.
Bradwell Institute was at first a boarding school and college preparatory, offering courses in Latin, Greek, chemistry, and "other useful and practical sciences." At the turn of the twentieth century the school became a part of the public school system and was for many years the only high school in this section of Georgia, drawing students from surrounding counties.