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.”

Contributed by Shawn Logan |

⁘ Works Cited ⁘

  1. The Lexington Leader, 9 December 1949
  2. The Lexington Leader, 12 December 1952
  1. The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 12 January 1902, p. 21.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Teresa Wilson says:

    My father, Paul Seyfrit, was assistant superintendent at Ky. Village in 1964-65. We lived on the grounds beside the fields. I remember Daddy being called out in the middle of the night because someone had “escaped”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Billy Howard says:

    That’s kind of funny, to read your reply. I was in that reform school because I was considered a delinquent boy. I had been in orphan homes twice and several foster homes before I was sent to the kentucky reform school. The reason the court sent me there was because the judge, Bradley was tired of me coming before him as the foster homes were abusive to me, working me on one farm 10 or 12 hours a day and I was only 13 at that time. No breaks or anything but 30 minutes to eat.sometime being hollered at a lot if I didn’t move fast enough.when I went there I saw that the guards carried clubs with them and also if one of the boys done some small infraction they could. be whipped with a 1 x4 inch by 4foot paddle with holes drilled in it. After I had been there about a month , two boys talked about running away

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Billy Howard says:

    I agreed to go with them, and one boy was in for stealing a lot of cars which I didn’t know about so we left one foggy morning in 1947 the boy was ted to steal a car so we could get out of the area and he knew how. This went on for 8 cars driving g allover ohio then back k down to my then down into Virginia. I was tired of that so I told them to go on as I didn’t want to do this a y more and the got another car and drive away. I walked toward Tennessee and stayed in a barn loft that ight and it was very cold. It was November at that time. I slept in some hay but it was still cold. The home owners that morning came out at break of dawn and said to me, ha you been sleeping there all ight and I said yes and she ask me if I was Hungary and I really was because I had not eaten for about 3 days at that time. Shredded me a really big breakfast.then told me about a christian home that would take me in and I agreed, the minister came an got me and were very good to me, nicer then anyone had ever even to me befoe. They called the reform school and told them that I was a good boy and wouldn’t to keep me there. But the officials said, no, that I was a run away. And they came and took me back! I was put in a barracks cell o water just a pot to bowel movement, the next day a. boy and I were called out to be punished. It was one of the worse beaten ever had endured in my young life. There was blood rubber night g down my legs and I couldn’t lay on my back for weeks. I still hold hateful feeling but I know it is not right to hold mom died when I was 8 years old. And my dad was an alcoholic I got picked up off the street because I had no real home, and slept out in the street it of times. We were put out our house once because my dad didn’t pay a $2dollar rent. TodAy I have a wonderful family 4 children all with their happy families 3 college graduates one a successful contractor and 15 grand children 3 wheatgrass children. If we want t we can succeed with the right attitude and a belief in apprehensions us. Th a ‘s for reading my text.. God. Bless!


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Virginia Smith says:

    thanks for sharing often I have remember Greendale My grandfather was there sometime in the late 30’s. He and my Grandmother took me in when I was 13 months old.. They had raised 7 children. and were so kind to take me…Took me to Sunday school right away. I Have all the papers tied with a pink ribbon in my desk! I ate many a meal sitting in his lap! Such a kind loving man! Granny & I slept many a night to hear the train whistle wondering if Daddy was coming home….We needed him and he needed a job. He had been a framer a mine inspector and needed income for me and Granny. Not sure what did there his name is John F, Brown Would appreciate any you have any info about him. or pics… I.have picture of our visit to see him. Let me know if your are interested.

    ggsmith10@hot mail .com


  5. I was in Kentucky village in the 1970s. I don’t know why I was there only that my mom didn’t want me to be with her and my 2 other sisters and I was abused by my mom after my dad died but he abused me when he was alive to. Then one day I was told I was going to meet my mom at the bus station in Akron Ohio. Her and my oldest sister picked me up there. I never saw Kentucky village again. But I remember a miss Curtis , Mrs Lewis , Mrs. Love. But I learned alot there and how to take care of my self I had to and thank God for what the people there taught me. I’m now 67 yrs old. I don’t know how old I was then or how long I was there or how old I was when I left there. I would love to have the information about me being there if possible. My name then was justene Bartley.


  6. Nancy Hopkins Jennings says:

    I’m trying to find out about my dad sister Elsa May Hopkins it was in the 1930s and 40s her father’s name is Henry Hopkins and her mother is Nancy Lambert Hopkins


  7. Looking for brother who was there in the 60;s Bill ashcraft I’m his sister Mary ashcraft richardson


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