Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant was built in 1909 at the suggestion of Nellie Frost, the wife of the College president, William G. Frost. Until then, guests of the college had been welcomed into the president’s home for lodging and meals. However, as the reputation of Berea College grew, so did the number of guests that Mrs. Frost received, reaching a total of 300 guests in one summer, thus came the idea for a College guest house. Boone Tavern Hotel – named for Appalachian hero Daniel Boone – has been hosting visitors of Berea, Kentucky, ever since.
Construction of Boone Tavern began in 1907 based on designs by the New York architectural firm of Cady & See at a cost of $20,000. The building, made of bricks manufactured by students in the College’s brickyard, was constructed by the College’s Woodwork Department. The “Tavern” portion of the name is derived from the historic definition that refers to a public inn for travelers rather than the modern definition related to the sale of alcohol.
Built at a prominent location on the College Square in the heart of Berea where the old Dixie Highway intersected with the campus, this historic hotel and restaurant became a popular destination with the traveling public from the beginning of the “automobile age.”
Housed in an L&N Railroad Depot built in 1917 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Find information here to plan your tour of town and through the Bluegrass region. From the Welcome Center Depot you can walk to many fine shops in Old Town and visit the largest concentration of working studios in Berea. Open 7 days a week from 9am-5pm. Closed Sundays Jan 1 – Mar 31.
The startled railroad surveyor dropped his notebook as his surveying instrument focused on a brick structure extending above the forest canopy.
Ladies Hall, Berea College’s first brick building, seemed totally out of place in the woodland setting.
“Whoever put up that building in this wilderness must have had faith,” the surveyor observed.
The surveyor’s experience came some 20 years after the Rev. John G. Fee started a one-room school in 1855 that eventually would become Berea College. Fee, a native of Bracken County, Ky., was a scholar of strong moral character, dedication, determination and great faith. He believed in a school that would be an advocate of equality and excellence in education for men and women of all races.
Fee’s uncompromising faith and courage in preaching against slavery attracted the attention of Cassius M. Clay, a well-to-do Kentucky landowner and prominent leader in the movement for gradual emancipation. Clay felt he had found in Fee an individual who would take a strong stand on slavery.
In 1853, Clay offered Fee a 10-acre homestead on the edge of the mountains if Fee would take up permanent residence there. Fee accepted and established an anti-slavery church with 13 members on a ridge they named “Berea” after the biblical town whose populace was open-minded and receptive to the gospel (Acts 17:10).