Frankfort, the capital city of Kentucky and the home of Kentucky State University, lies on the western edge of the state’s Bluegrass Region. The city of 30,000, which is more than 200 years old, grew along the banks of the Kentucky River in a small valley bordered by limestone cliffs. Preservation of historic structures throughout the city adds to its picturesque quality. Easily accessible by major highways, Frankfort is within a short drive of Lexington, Louisville, and Cincinnati.
Frankfort’s history is rich with familiar names and events. Daniel and Rebecca Boone are buried in a cemetery overlooking the city, just a few minutes’ walk from Kentucky State University’s campus. In the old Statehouse, Aaron Burr was brought before a grand jury on the charge of treason. The Military History Museum contains artifacts going back to the Revolutionary War and Civil War periods. Old houses at the Corner of Celebrities, located in the city’s oldest residential neighborhood, have at different times been the residences of governors, Supreme Court judges, senators, and other noted statesmen. The Old Capitol Building is a finely restored example of Greek Revival architecture and the first public work by renowned architect Gideon Shryock. Its marble double-spiral staircase is a beautiful example of innovative design and superb craftsmanship.
The Orlando Brown House, also designed by Shryock, and Liberty Hall, built by statesman John Brown, served as meeting places for such famous figures as Zachary Taylor, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, and Theodore Roosevelt. These two houses, along with the Glen Willis House, provide the city with beautiful areas for public receptions and with formal gardens along the river.
Today, offices of state government, the University, and local organizations join together to provide the city with places and events of interest. Beautifully planted gardens at the new State Capitol and throughout the city establish pleasant and congenial surroundings. The Frankfort Arts Foundation brings nationally recognized talent to Frankfort for musical and theatrical productions. Art galleries show works by the widely known late local painter Paul Sawyier along with shows by other nationally and locally known artists. The Game Farm, established in 1944 by the State Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, is only three miles from downtown Frankfort. In addition to its woods and lakes, which serve as rest and feeding areas for migratory birds, almost all of Kentucky’s native animal species are in residence.
Frankfort is a diverse community that offers Kentucky State University students a variety of opportunities for recreation and personal growth. Students can choose to be a part of this community in a variety of ways. It offers access to a rich cultural and historical perspective while providing avenues for involvement in civic and community affairs.
From its modest beginnings as a small normal school that trained black teachers for black schools in Kentucky, Kentucky State University has grown and evolved to become a unique liberal studies institution, serving students without regard to their race, age, sex, national origin, or economic status.
The university was chartered in May 1886 as the State Normal School for Colored Persons, only the second state-supported institution of higher learning in Kentucky. During the euphoria of Frankfort’s 1886 centennial celebration, when vivid recollections of the Civil War remained, the city’s 4,000 residents were keenly interested in having the new institution located in Frankfort. Toward that end, the city donated $1,500—a considerable amount in those days—and a site on a scenic bluff overlooking the town. This united display of community enthusiasm and commitment won the day. The new college was located in Frankfort in spite of competition from several other cities.
Recitation Hall (now Jackson Hall), the college’s first building, was erected in 1887. The new school opened on October 11, 1887, with three teachers, 55 students, and John H. Jackson as president.
In 1890 the institution became a land grant college, and the departments of home economics, agriculture, and mechanics were added to the school’s curriculum. The school produced its first graduating class of five students in the spring of that year. A high school was organized in 1893. This expansion continued into the twentieth century in both name and program. In 1902, the name was changed to Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute for Colored Persons. The name was changed again in 1926 to Kentucky State College for Colored Persons. In the early 1930’s the high school was discontinued, and in 1938 the school was named the Kentucky State College for Negroes. The term “for Negroes” was dropped in 1952. Kentucky State College became a university in 1972, and in 1973 the first graduate students enrolled in its School of Public Affairs.
Kentucky State University’s 882-acre campus includes a 204-acre agricultural research farm and a 306- acre environmental education center.
Kentucky State University has an enrollment of about 2,300 students and more than 150 full-time instructional faculty members.
Kentucky State University today has more than 43 campus structures to serve its family. Many courses are taught each academic year in off-campus classes throughout Franklin County and the surrounding six- county service area. The university’s student-faculty ratio is the lowest among public institutions of higher learning in Kentucky.
Today’s students have the opportunity to receive an associate (two-year) degree in three disciplines, a baccalaureate (four-year) degree in 24 disciplines— several of which have optional specializations—and a master’s degree in five disciplines. Students may also elect to prepare for professional schools through the university’s arrangements with the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville, the University of Maryland at College Park, Vanderbilt University, Meharry Medical College, Florida A&M University, Northern Kentucky University, Auburn University, Tuskegee University, Southern College of Optometry (Memphis), the University of Houston, and the University of Alabama-Birmingham.