The City’s ‘A Sense of Place’ initiative, a campaign to recognize and preserve historic Black hamlets in Fayette County, is planning a Sept. 19 community meeting in Uttingertown to discuss fund-raising to finish the restoration of Cadentown School and cemetery.
“Our hamlet community outreach events, such as the upcoming September 19 meeting at Uttingertown, get the word out about the project, and offer opportunities for public engagement and involvement,” said 12th District Councilmember Kathy Plomin. “We plan on scheduling similar hamlet events at their original sites as we move forward in our efforts.”
Mayor Linda Gorton said preserving the rural Black hamlets is very important to the culture and history of Lexington. “It is very important that we do all we can to respect and uplift these communities,” she said.
A steering committee has been formed to focus on informing city leaders and the public about what the hamlets represent, and what needs to happen to preserve the history of the properties.
More than 20 historic hamlets have been identified in Fayette County. They are located in rural areas and offer public services and buildings.
One of the best known hamlets in Fayette County is Cadentown because a Rosenwald school still stands there. About 5,000 Rosenwald schools were built in the South between 1917 and 1932. They were often the first school buildings for African American students in Southern communities. Building a Rosenwald school allowed students and teachers to move out of churches, barns, or fields. After public schools were desegregated, many Rosenwald Schools were torn down or abandoned.
In 1990, the Cadentown community came together and worked with the city to organize the preservation of the Cadentown Rosenwald School. The ‘A Sense of Place’ initiative is raising funds to finish the restoration, including restoring the cemetery there.
Funds will also be used to create spaces that may be used by the community, and to create a permanent home for the history of Lexington’s hamlets. To date, the ongoing campaign has brought in almost $200,000 from a variety of sources, including Columbia Gas, Cadentown Missionary Baptist Church, the City, and individual donors.
“We are approaching the halfway mark of the campaign’s $500,000 goal,” Plomin said. “This success demonstrates the generosity of our city, for which we are very grateful.”
Tiffany Brown, Lexington Equity and Implementation Officer and ‘A Sense of Place’ Committee Chair, said, “It is important that we continue to receive support to uplift and celebrate the contributions that these rural black hamlet communities have made to the culture of Lexington.”
The Uttingertown meeting will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, September 19, at Uttingertown Missionary Baptist Church.
For more information regarding the ‘A Sense of Place’ initiative, contact the steering committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.