Kentucky School of Reform


Kentucky School of Reform (Lexington/Greendale)

Please visit our section dedicated to this school on our website with more information and a photo gallery.

In early 1902, there were nearly 300 boys and girls; 120 were white boys and 112 colored boys, 35 white girls and 20 colored girls. In 1902 the colored boys and girls were in temporary quarters and “authorities have been compelled to be stricter in the matter of admission, as the quarters are less commodious.” Superintendent Doak hoped that once the school was fully completed that accommodations for a thousand boys and girls would be made.

Daily Life

Part of the day is given to work of the classroom, part to the work in the “Manual Training School,” and a happy hour and one half hour after dinner to play and “romp” on the grounds.

  • 5:30 AM – First bell and wakeup
  • 6:00 AM – Breakfast
  • 7:00 AM – Older boys and girls go to classroom while younger boys do manual training and younger girls go to cooking and sewing classes
  • 12:00 PM – Lunch
  • 12:30-1:30 PM – Playtime
  • 1:30 PM – Younger boys and girls go to classroom and older boys and girls do manual training
  • 5:00 PM – Classrooms close
  • 6:00 PM – Supper
  • 8:00 PM – Lights out

50 acres of the farm are used as a garden done entirely by the boys. A brick-making machine was put into use in 1901 where boys made bricks to be used in the future buildings on campus. Both boys and girls are taught how to do laundry. Girls do mending and make new garments as needed along with being provided cooking lessons. The girls also make jellies and preserves. The manual training shops produce chairs, brooms, harnesses, and a shoe shop for repairing shoes. In early 1902 there was a primitive carpenter shop with hopes of establishing a printing shop and the capability of making cabinets. The reform school utilized the Sloyd system of manual training in which woodworking skills were established.

Records of the reform school contained life histories of each boy and girl, along with “sad stories and records of crimes.” Youngsters ages 6-9 were often in the reform school at no fault of their but as a result of “suffering for the sins of their parents; their home surroundings were such that they have been taken from their parents.”



The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 12 January 1902, p. 21.

Contributed by Shawn Logan

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