Crafting a more beautiful world
© Becky Linhardt 2013
Many people are introduced to the rich tradition of crafts in Berea during a stop at the spacious Kentucky Artisan Center on I-75 in south central Kentucky. There is much more art to explore in the area so pick up a copy of Map to Art in Berea. The 32 page booklet can help you plan your visit to the nearby craft studios that welcome visitors, downtown Berea’s shops and galleries, and craft classes and workshops offered throughout the year.
The craft tradition began in 1893 with a visionary plan based on a concept that if the students produced regional crafts to sell they could earn money to help them secure their education at Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. Today’s students are involved in the sales and distribution of craft items primarily made in the college’s studios dedicated to Weaving, Broom Making, Wood, Ceramics, and Jewelry. Their primary outlet is the impressive Log House Craft Gallery on the edge of the small campus.
Berea is a charming college town in the rolling hills south of Lexington. Some would say it is geographically an Appalachian area but it has a much wider world outlook. A love for the region and its craft traditions attracts many of the college graduates to stay in the area, continue to produce quality craft items, and teach workshops through a variety of programs including the Festival of LearnShops in July and Make it, Take it, Give it in early December each year (listed in the Map to Art in Berea guidebook).
While in the area enjoy a stay at the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant, winner of the Duncan Hines Excellence in Hospitality Award in 2003. The overnight experience enfolds you in the warmth of Southern hospitality, gentle smiles and soft accents. Owned by Berea College, it has recently received a multi-million dollar renovation. In keeping with the college’s orientation to the crafts, the decorators selected student-handcrafted furniture and bedding for the guest rooms.
At the Boone Tavern Restaurant the focus is on Southern cuisine including a time honored recipe for “spoonbread,” a unique regional treat. The traditional décor is soothing. There is no rush; here time slows to a genteel pace. Looking through the multi-paned glass windows you can see across to the lawn of the college and relax as pedestrians stroll between shops.
A newer option for accommodations is Weaver’s Rest Cottage tucked into a residential area near the college campus. The colorful, shabby chic décor fits in with the artistic temperament of the town and provides privacy, only one renter – you. The front porch is perfect for sitting outside on a warm evening to watch for fireflies. Inside you have a full kitchen and a dedicated dining room if prefer to organize your own meals.
Come for a festival, stay for a workshop – once you have visited you are sure to return. Many first time visitors find an excuse to come back to enjoy the crafts and the small country town.
www.berea.com or 800-598-5263