The Suitcase Lady


March 27, 2012, 8:35 pm

Last weekend we drove to Kentucky to buy a broom. Our thirty year old broom was made at Berea College, and its demise provided a perfect excuse for a road trip to springtime Kentucky. The College is an American treasure and worthy of a trip, broom or no broom.

Founded in 1855 by Christian abolitionists, this small liberal arts college welcomes everyone and was the first in the South to admit African Americans and women. Berea is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. Their aim is “to strive to be courageous and innovative as we break down barriers to inequality, justice and economic opportunity through distinctive and distinguished education.”

All students get a four year tuition scholarship and all participate in a campus-based work program of not more than 15 hours a week. Many students choose Berea’s Craft Programs which preserve the traditional arts of the Appalachian Mountains.

The young people in woodworking, broom making, weaving, pottery and furniture studios produce exquisitely crafted products.

Since 1909, the historic Boone Tavern and Dining Rooms have welcomed visitors and trained students in the hospitality arts. All the furniture in the hotel is student made. Boone Tavern Hotel is a Historic Hotel of America and its recent renovations earned it LEED gold certification…it’s green. On a wry note, be advised that the Tavern is dry.

Berea is an art lovers’ paradise. It is also a potent reminder that America cannot and should not waste the potential of students from poor families. Berea College was radically innovative in 1855. Berea remains radically innovative in 2012.

Click here for more about the Berea College crafts program.

2 Comments for this entry

  • JuLilly

    Thanks for filling me in about Berea. I”ve gotten their info for years, but didn’t know it was a craft based college. It’s really a special place. Also, flying in and out of Charlotte NC yesterday, I saw their whole Concourse E covered with their children’s’ art and thought of you.

  • evie

    Mary–I learn so much from reading your pieces.
    Thanks so much! evie