Boone Tavern has been in continuous operation since 1909. It was built as a guesthouse for Berea College at the suggestion of Nellie Frost, the wife of the college president. After receiving 300 guests one summer…the idea for a college guest house was born! Boone Tavern is named for its location on the Daniel Boone Trail, which ran from North Carolina to Kentucky in 1775. The “Tavern” portion of the name is derived from the historic definition that refers to a public inn for travelers. An $11 million “green” renovation in 2009 ensured efficiency and comfort without infringing on the historic beauty of the hotel. The Tavern was built with bricks manufactured by students in the college’s brickyard and was constructed by the college’s woodwork department at a total cost of $20,000. Boone Tavern is owned by Berea College. Butch and I took a walking tour of the beautiful Berea College Campus. The school was founded in 1855 and began as a one-room schoolhouse that served as a church on Sundays. Strong beliefs in an impartial love toward all has always shaped the institution’s culture and programs and is reflected in the college’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.” Berea College admitted both black and white students making it the first non-segregated, coeducational college in the South. Berea was founded by Protestant Christians. It maintains a Christian identity separate from any particular denomination.Berea has a mandatory student work program in which all students work 10 or more hours per week in campus and service jobs.
Some of the work-study has helped to extend and support practice of traditional crafts from the Appalachian region!
Admission to the college is granted only to students who need financial assistance. The majority of the incoming class is drawn from the Appalachian region of the South and about 8% are international students.
Of course, I found some things that I had to bring home…a hand-blown glass bowl, an interesting wood-crafted bowl, and napkin rings…all of which you will see on a future blog post!
Berea has one of the largest financial reserves of any American college. Fine dining has brought Boone Tavern much of its international acclaim! The menu offers a blend of traditional and creative southern cuisine. Spoonbread is a signature item generously served. The Boone Tavern recipe is included at the bottom. A seared Kentucky raised rib chop, with Kentucky Barrel Ale barbecue sauce, roasted jalapeño corn cakes, and braised greens was my fare for the evening, and delicious, I might add! The restaurant uses locally grown ingredients, some of which are grown by the students in the College’s gardens and greenhouses.
Boone Tavern Famous Spoonbread
3 cups milk
1 1/4 cups white cornmeal
2 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Stir meal into rapidly boiling milk. Cook until very thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. The mixture will be very stiff. Add well-beaten eggs, salt, baking powder, and melted butter. Beat with an electric mixer for 15 minutes. Pour into well-greased pan and bake for 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees. Serve from pan by spoonful with butter.
Thank you all for reading and commenting! I hope you learned something about the small college town of Berea, Kentucky! What are some of your favorite travel experiences? I would love to hear from you!
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