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Living a College Town Lifestyle in Berea, Kentucky

A treasure of a college town can be found in Berea, Kentucky. It is not only one of the fastest growing towns in America (estimated 73% growth from 2000 to 2010), but it is also one of the most unusual small towns in the south. The town was founded by abolitionist missionaries in 1853. They established Berea College, a coeducational institution which also became the only integrated college in the south for 40 years. Even today, students at the college do not have to pay tuition, but they do have to work. Many African Americans moved here as a result of the town’s history of racial tolerance (although for some reason only 4.3% of the town was listed as African American in the 2000 census). The town has a long association with the arts and crafts of Appalachia. Folk arts have been studied, celebrated and practiced in Berea since the 1890’s.

Berea is a charming college town and therefore allows for public participation in its youthful atmosphere and many cultural offerings. There is a small commercial district near the campus, but the main shopping is done outside of town. There is an ambitious downtown renovation project going on. Serious shoppers go to Lexington (39 miles). Berea is located in Madison County.

Photo of Boone Tavern courtesy of Wikipedia and Parkerdr.

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