Three African American National Historic Landmarks Tied to Berea College

Lincoln Hall

Lincoln Hall – 1887

A recent article published by the Birmingham Times as part of Black History Month listed 39 notable African American National Historic Landmarks by states in the Southeast region of the United States. The three Kentucky sites all have ties to Berea College.

* Built in 1887, this hall is the second-oldest permanent (brick) building on the Berea College Campus. Originally called “Recitation Hall,” black and white students shared its classrooms, library, laboratories, and meeting rooms together as social equals in an era before such interaction was the norm. Designed in the “Romanesque” style, construction was funded primarily by Roswell C. Smith, founder of the Century Company and Century Magazine, who requested the building be named for President Abraham Lincoln. In more recent years, Lincoln Hall has housed the administrative offices of Berea College. Lincoln Hall was designated a National Historical Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior in 1975 in recognition of Berea being the first college in the South established specifically to educate black and white students together.

Nicholasville: Camp Nelson

* Established during the Civil War in 1863, Camp Nelson was a large Union quartermaster and commissary depot, recruitment and training center, and hospital. After March 1864, Camp Nelson became Kentucky’s largest recruitment and training center for black troops. Wives and children of the black recruits followed them to Camp Nelson, creating a need for housing and a school. Teachers and missionaries sent by the American Missionary Association educated the refugees. Berea College founder John G. Fee was the longest term missionary to the camp. Following the June 1866 closure of Camp Nelson, Rev. John G. Fee later bought 130 acres, including the refugee camp to provide permanent homes for the residents. This area became the community of Ariel, now known as Hall.

Simpsonville: Whitney M. Young, Jr. Birthplace

* A two-story wooden house on the campus of the Lincoln Institute was the birthplace of educator and civil rights Leader Whitney M. Young. Lincoln Institute had been founded by Berea College after the Kentucky legislature forced segregation in the Commonwealth. Berea College fought the law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but lost. Young, who lived at this home until he was 15, spent most of his career working to end employment discrimination in the South and turning the National Urban League into a strong grass roots organization for racial justice.

To read the full list of African American National Historic Landmarks visit:

Categories: News, Places
Tags: Birmingham Times, Black History Month, Civil Rights

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.