Traveling the I-95 To Berea, Its Famous College And Artisan Center
No road trip through Southeast Kentucky is complete without a few days in Berea, an artsy and very liberal southern gem.
Searching for adventure, a good meal and a touch of the quirky while trekking down the I-95 on your American road trip this summer? Stop off in the Commonwealth of Kentucky known for its ‘Unbridled Spirit” for more adventure than expected.
Driving around Kentucky, the land that inspired the Derby and the finger lickin’ good fried chicken, white picket fences hedge off rolling hills blur past car windows.
While these images cast one aspect of the state, quaint towns such as Danville, civil war battlefields like Camp Nelson and Perryville, as well as Berea’s weaving factories hide charms all their own.
Berea College Welcomes All
Named after the biblical town meaning “Where people received the Word with all readiness of mind”, Berea makes a great spot to hole up for a few days of any road trip.
Berea College, the regions pride and joy, sits quietly in the middle of this charming town. Take time to explore the college which became, in 1855, the first interracial and co-educational college in the South. Founder Reverend John Fee started teaching on the battlefield at Camp Nelson and soon after the Civil War, opened this college with the goal to unite the Appalachian people through tolerance and equal-opportunity education.
The high quality liberal arts institution offers free schooling to students who show great potential but lack economical resources. In exchange for free classes, students ‘labor’ throughout the town making the university and its students part of the whole community. Many of the town’s restaurants and hotels, including the magnificent Boon Tavern Inn, a Georgian-styled hotel that eats up a whole core block of the college square, employ students from the college who are more than happy to share their wealth of life experiences with guests and diners.
Kentucky Artisan Center
Visual art holds a special place in the hearts of Berea’s townspeople. On the way into town expect to see large and extravagantly designed hands popping up around the Boon Tavern all the way down to the Kentucky Artisan Center along the Daniel Boone Trail. Even more pepper the town’s Old Town Artisan Village.
Initially installed to commemorate the opening of the Artisan Center, years later, the hands remain in place, having become a treasured part of the town’s backdrop. The fiberglass hands were constructed by a local kayak factory and decorated by resident artists. Check out hands decorated from recycled materials and those depicting beautiful scenes.
Berea College has a mission of service to the population of the Appalachian and accordingly, people serve with their hands, thus the hands became a symbol for Berea.