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African American Schools in Lexington and Fayette County, KY
Start Year : 1798
End Year : 1956
Often mentioned as one of the early schools for African Americans in Lexington, was a school taught by a white man from Tennessee around 1830. But an even earlier school was a Sunday school taught in 1798 at the old home of Colonel Patterson on High Street [source provided by Yvonne Giles: "A Sunday School," Kentucky Gazette, 10/16/1798, p.3. col.2]. Between 1866 and 1870, there were at least four schools supported by the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands [see the NKAA entry Freedmen Schools, Kentucky]. In 1867 two of the schools in Lexington were Howard School on Church St and Mitchell & Talbott School on Upper Street. In 1867, the Independent African Church School had been opened by Rev. Frederick Braxton, and H. C. Marrs left the colored school in Lagrange, KY, to teach at Braxton's school in Lexington [source: Ante-bellum free Negroes as race leaders in Virginia and Kentucky during Reconstruction (thesis) by C. B. King, p.116]. In 1880 the colored teachers in Lexington and Fayette County were C. J. Braxton at South Elkhorn (son of Rev. Frederick Braxton); William Jackson at Briar Hill; John Jackson at Sandersville; George Newman; and in Lexington there was Chapman Mourse; Annie Warde; S. Jane Washington, who was teaching prior to the Civil War and had her own school; Mary B. Hawkins; Louisa McMillan; J. A. Ross; Ella Ross; Julia Shows; Lou Simpson; Lucy W. Smith; Ada Trotter; Sarah M. Turner; and Emily O. Warfield [source: U.S. Federal Census]. The first commencement for the Fayette County colored schools was held at the courthouse on June 1, 1894 [source: Programme: 1st Commencement of Fayette County Colored Schools]. The graduates were Cora B. Simpson, Coleman Greene, Sallie Coleman, Mary Greene, all from Uttingertown School. Frank Byrd and Bessie J. Cooper graduated from Fort Spring School. G. S. Johnson, Green Seals, Garfield Sanders, and Claude W. Strider were all graduates from Cadentown School. In 1896, there were 16 colored schools in Fayette County [source: Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1895-1897, pp.347-351]. Five of the schools were held for five months and 11 of the schools were in session for more than five months. One of the schools was a training school for colored teachers. The average attendance at all of the schools was 1,011 students who were taught by 16 teachers (one teacher at each school). The teachers' average monthly pay was $70 for male teachers and $52 for female teachers.  In 1925, the colored high school was located at Dunbar School in Lexington and W. H. Fouse was the principal [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1925-1926, p.39]. The school was rated an "A" high school. The Maddoxtown School was a county training school for teachers, L. W. Taylor was the principal [p.65]. In 1925, there were four teachers who taught at the Maddoxtown training school which had a 4 year high school. The teachers' average salary was $1,088 for a nine month term; it was the highest average salary of all the teachers at the colored training schools in Kentucky.  The supervisor of the industrial teachers in Fayette County in 1925 was Mrs. E. Birdie Taylor [p.66]. In 1925, there were 13 colored elementary schools in Fayette County, with 1 high school, all taught by 18 teachers [p.67]. In Lexington, there were 39 elementary teachers and 15 high school teachers [p.69]. By 1932, there were high schools at Douglas School, rated an "A" high school with 5 teachers; at Russell School, an unrated high school with 7 teachers; and at Dunbar School, rated an "A" high school with 13 teachers [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1932-33, p.45]. In 1940, there were 113 Negro teachers in Fayette County [source: U.S. Federal Census]. In 1955, there were two schools listed as having white and colored students: Kentucky Village and University School, both state schools [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1955-56, pp.209-210]. The following year, there were several schools listed as integrated: Athens-Shelby, Briar Hill, Bryan Station (integrated & white), Clays Mill, Kenwick, Lafayette Sr. High, Linlee, Russell Cave, Yates, Kentucky Village, Ashland, Henry Clay, Johnson, Lexington Jr., and Lexington Catholic High School [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1956-57, pp.426-427].

City Schools

  • Bethesda Normal and Industrial school - [established by Rev. O. L. Murphy on the corner of Alford and Smith Streets - source: Lexington Leader, 12/04/1906, p.1, c.2] - provided by Y. Giles
  • Canadian and Ohio Industrial School - [opened at Colored Methodist Church at Race and Corral Streets - source: Lexington Leader, 08/31/1907, p.1. c.2] - provided by Y. Giles
  • Carver School [source: Kentucky School Directory, 1961-61, p.853]
  • Chandler Normal School [photo]
  • Christian Church School (on 4th Street, became Mitchell & Talbert School)
  • Colored Industrial School (Negro WCTU)
  • Colored School No. 2
  • Colored School No. 3
  • Constitution Street School
  • Corral Street Normal (1868), supported by the American Missionary Association - [source: Congressional Serial Set, Executive Documents of the House, 2nd Session of 46th Congress, 1879-'80, v.2, Education no.1, part 5, v.3, p.80 (online in Google Books)]
  • Douglass School
  • Dunbar School
  • Forest Hill School
  • Fourth Street School
  • Independent African Church School (Frederick Braxton entry in NKAA)
  • Jane Washington School (on 2nd Street, opened prior to the U.S. Civil War) (supported by Lawyer Andrew Bush)
  • Ladies of the Episcopal Church School [source: Kentucky Gazette, 12/28/1867, p.3]
  • Lexington Freedmen School
  • Lexington High School (supported by the Freedmen's Bureau)
  • Lexington Polytechnic Institute [source: Kentucky Leader, 0/15/1894, p.7]
  • Lexington Sabbath School (established by the Episcopal Church & supported by the Freedmen's Bureau)
  • Lower Street School (1883)
  • Patterson Street School
  • Mitchell & Talbott School [Mrs. E. Belle Mitchell-Jackson and Mrs. Talbert]
  • Pleasant Green Church School (closed around 1876, and reopened as Patterson St. School)
  • Russell School No. 1
  • St. Andrew's Colored Episcopal Parochial School [source: Lexington Daily Transcript, 02/01/1891, p.7]
  • St. Peter Claver School
  • St. John's School (opened 1888) [source: Lexington Daily Press, 06/18/1889, p.4]
  • Sunday School (1798)
  • Booker T. Washington School [source: Kentucky School Directory, 1961-62, p.853]

County Schools

For more see The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 by C. G. Woodson; Maydwell's Lexington City Directory 1867; Emerson and Dark's Lexington Directory 1898-9; "Colored school location," Leader, 08/10/1883, p.1; "Colored county schools," Leader, 09/06/1903, p.3 and other articles in the Lexington Leader newspaper between 1895-1911; and Educational History of the Negroes of Lexington (thesis) by William Henry Fouse, which includes information on teacher  S. Jane Washington. See Rosenwald Schools in Kentucky 1917-1932 by A. Turley-Adams, Kentucky Heritage Council and Kentucky African American Heritage Commission. See also Ante-bellum free Negroes as race leaders in Virginia and Kentucky during reconstruction (thesis) by C. B. King, pp.106-107 & 111-114].


  See 1929 photo image of students in the lunch line at Maddoxtown Colored School at Kentucky Digital Library - Images.
Subjects: Communities, Education and Educators, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky, African American Schools in Kentucky (Counties A-Z)
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky



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