Stop 19. Fee Sculpture Park

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In celebration of Berea College’s 150-year anniversary in 2005, the College made a gift to the City of Berea of a small sculpture park located at the site of Berea’s first school building, which was built in 1855. A later, brick building housed an elementary and high school on the very corner where the park stands now at the intersection of Chestnut, Fee, and Boone streets. Some of the bricks in the park’s walkway are from this building. Berea College President Larry Shin was able to secure donations to commission Stan Watts, a sculptor from Utah whose work was known to one of the major donors, to create five bronze statues. The goal was not just to honor Berea’s founder, John G. Fee, but to also tell the story of Kentucky’s first interracial and coeducational school. The group includes John G. Fee, holding a Bible, and Elizabeth Rogers, the school’s first teacher, showing the Declaration of Independence to an African American girl, while two boys, one white and one black, watch from a bench. The Bible in Fee’s hand is open to the Book of Acts, to the section that talks about Berea being a city that welcomed the gospel. This is the passage that inspired Fee to name the school he founded Berea. Elizabeth Rogers and her husband, the Reverend J.A.R. Rogers, came to Berea in 1858, shortly after the Fees. While the men were clearing land, Elizabeth began holding classes. Fee asked the American Methodist Association to pay Elizabeth the same amount they provided for the men and they complied. In 1859, the Fees and Rogerses were forced out of Berea under the threat of violence but continued to work toward establishment of the College during the Civil War. At the war’s end, J.A.R. and Elizabeth Rogers, the Fees and others returned to Berea and opened Berea Literary Institute, the forerunner of Berea College.