City of Berea, Kentucky

 
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Berea Ky City Guide
   
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Berea is situated in southern Madison County near the edge of central Kentucky's Blue Grass Region. The city is located 39 miles south of Lexington, Kentucky; 113 miles southeast of Louisville, Kentucky; and 132 miles north of Knoxville, Tennessee. Boasting a small town atmosphere and rich cultural and historic roots makes Berea an ideal place to live, work and play.

The population was 9,851 at the 2000 census. Its most prominent institution is Berea College, which owns a substantial percentage of the city's land. A dry town, it is also one of the fastest growing towns in Kentucky.

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Due to the high number of arts and crafts produced, Berea is a semi-popular tourist attraction, and hosts several Crafts Festivals throughout the year. Berea also hosts a Spoonbread Festival in mid-September, which revolves around a cornmeal bread that is traditionally served with a wooden spoon.

Berea is a principal city of the Richmond–Berea Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Madison and Rockcastle counties.
  History
 
 

In 1850 this area, called the Glade, was a community of scattered farms with a racetrack and citizens sympathetic to emancipation. In 1853, rich and politically ambitious Cassius Marcellus Clay gave Reverend John Gregg Fee a free tract of land in the Glade, where with local supporters and other abolitionist missionaries from the American Missionary Association, Fee established two churches (First Christian Church and Union Church), Berea College, and a tiny village. Fee named Berea after a biblical town (today Veria) where the people “received the Word with all readiness of mind.” Founded in 1855, Berea College became the only integrated college in the South for nearly forty years. During the Civil War, John G. Fee preached to and taught thousands of slave men who had volunteered for the Union Army. After the War, African American families came to Berea to join in the beginnings of this rich Black history.
In the 1890s, there was a growing national interest in the culture and traditions of Appalachia by writers, academics, missionaries, and teachers.  Fascinated by the rich culture and dismayed by the isolation and poverty, college donors were excited by the traditional coverlets brought by students in exchange for tuition.  College President William Frost took many of these coverlets with him on his fund-raising trips North. Frost, perceiving a national market for traditional crafts, established the first Berea College Fireside Industries. Frost encouraged people to move to Berea, and the college built a loom house and hired a supervisor to train and maintain the quality of student work. The first supervisor of weaving was Jennie Lester Hill. She was succeeded in 1911 by Anna Ernberg, a Swedish weaver who taught several influential figures in the American Handweaving Revival while at Berea. Berea maintains its history of support for traditional arts and crafts today. The recently built Kentucky Artisan Center, located at Exit 77 off Interstate 75 hosts a wide variety of works by Kentucky artisans. In 1922, Churchill Weavers was established by David Carroll Churchill. Churchill Weavers closed in the spring of 2007.


Berea, Kentucky City Hall

 

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