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Bardstown Training School

Revered memories remain for the Nelson County/Bardstown Training School. “The cornerstone of the new colored public school building will be laid on July 7, 1903. A grand street parade, headed by a brass band, a chorus of 200 children, orator and music will be features of the occasion. The affaire is under the management of Professor W.C. Jordan, Thomas Harwood, George Payne, Alex Hamilton and David Johnson and will likely be a big success.” This quote from The Kentucky Standard of April 30, 1903 was just the beginning of a tradition of education on the corner of First and Brashear. This school was known as the “Bluff School” and operated until 1923 when the Nelson County Training School was constructed across the street. It was renovated in 1988 and is now known as the Bowman-Cherry Center in honor of W.L. Bowman and R.L. Cherry, early leaders in education in Bardstown.

This building was noted as being in District A and is referenced in the Nelson County Board of Education minutes as such. Each year the needs of the schools were reviewed and requests were submitted to the County School Board. In 1910 there were 79 individual schools under the Nelson County School Board’s review. Alex Hamilton, Ed Lewis, and Henry Duncan were the trustees of the two-room Bluff School in 1910 and W.L. Bowman was the principal. Later trustees were George Payne, Howard Thomas and R.L. Cherry. One of their responsibilities was to determine the needs of the school. Over the next ten years, the trustees requested and the school received roof repair, well repair, plaster repair and wallpaper, new steps at the side entrance, a blackboard, stove and two new grates for old stoves, desks, brooms and chalk. These were typical needs of all of the small schools in the county.

At that time, the school year was six months long, beginning in July and running through January. In the winter of 1915 the school held six weeks of classes for adult African Americans called the Moonlight School of Bardstown. The school was extended for a term of ten weeks beginning January 18 for persons beyond the common school age and who were not advanced beyond the third grade. The school, which was held in the evening, was free of charge. Professor S.L. Smith, assistant principal, worked very hard for these classes assisted by Mrs. A.B. Bowman, Miss L.C.E. Helm and Mrs. Jessie Cherry.

The County School Board agreed to pay for the lights and fuel for the Moonlight School In a time when getting to school meant walking or riding a horse, the challenge of transporting students to a district school away from their neighborhood was solved by the County Board of Education by hiring someone to bring them. Henry Crume transported students from two districts to the Bluff School in 1922 for five dollars a day. There is no record of how many or how far, but this job was sought by others.

For information, contact the District Office to purchase the Centennial Book: Bardstown City Schools: 100 Year Perspective by Dixie Hibbs.

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