Since its founding in 1854, people have come to visit Berea, found it to their liking, and have made it their home. Today, the area boasts a population of approximately 13,000 and offers world-renowned arts and crafts, acres of beautiful rolling farm and forest land, a thriving industrial base and numerous recreational opportunities such as hiking and camping.
Berea is located 39 miles south of Lexington on I-75, where the bluegrass meets the mountains and art and crafts are created. We are a graceful blend of southern hospitality and Appalachian tradition. We invite you to relax and slow down, visit one of the more 50 craft persons or gallery owners. Listen to the music of the dulcimer and the clack of the weaver’s shuttle; watch our potters, jewelers and woodworkers create heirlooms. For “yesterday’s treasures” visit our many antique shops. When it’s time for dining we have a wide variety from which to choose – traditional southern cuisine, fine regional specialties, ethnic foods, soup and sandwiches, international coffees. Berea has something for everyone. Take your time, have a great visit and return often. Visit the Berea Tourism website for more information.
Recognized as “The Folk Arts & Crafts Capital of Kentucky”, Berea features two annual craft fairs: The Berea Crafts Fair in July and the Kentucky Guild of Artist and Craftsmen Fair in October. Berea is also home to the Kentucky Artisan Center, an $8.75 million facility which serves as the starting point for touring Berea and Kentucky’s regional arts and crafts.
Public schools in Berea and Madison County are accredited with emphasis on achievement. Student scores on nationally standardized tests rank higher each year. Berea schools offer both attractive teacher / student ratios and interaction with the community due to the close proximity of the schools and neighborhoods. Many schools and institutions of higher learning are convenient and accessible including private liberal arts college, private business colleges and upper division state-supported universities.
Saint Joseph Berea Hospital, with its cancer treatment center, is located within the city limits and is continually expanding its facilities to better serve our community.
Lexington, KY (located just 39 miles north of Berea) offers numerous shopping and cultural activities such as Broadway musicals, ballets, and dramatic theatre. Other activities include the University of Kentucky Basketball Museum and the Kentucky Horse Park.
For tradition, variety, quality and year round enjoyment, there’s no other geographical area that compares. However, it’s the people that make Berea special.
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 Clay gave Reverend John G. Fee a free tract of land in the Glade, where with local supporters and other abolitionist missionaries, Fee established a church, Berea College, and a tiny village. Fee named Berea after a biblical town where the people “received the Word with all readiness of mind.”
Founded in 1855 with a college department in place by 1869, Berea College grew, and a community surrounding it quickly emerged. The college appointed a prudential committee to look after the affairs of the newly developed town. They laid out streets and sold lots, established a fire department, dug a public well, and subscribed to have the railroad and public roads come through the town. On April 4, 1890, the town incorporated and the affairs of town and college were separated.
In the 1890’s, there was a growing national interest in the culture and tradition of Appalachia by writers, academics, missionaries, and teachers. Fascinated by the richness of traditional but dismayed by the apparent isolation, poverty and depravation donors were very excited by the traditional coverlets brought by students in exchange for tuition, which College President William Frost took 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.
Berea College provides a full-tuition scholarship to every student, admits only low-income students, and requires all students to work in a college job. In addition to carrying a full academic load, students work 10-15 hours per week, which permits them to earn a portion of their educational expenses. Founded with a commitment of educating black and white students together, today the college has students from more than 60 countries and many faiths and is continually ranked as one of the leading liberal arts colleges in the nation.
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