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Green River Female Academy

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Title: Green River Female Academy  
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Subject: Todd County, Kentucky, Elkton, Kentucky, James Clark McReynolds
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Green River Female Academy

Green River Female Academy
Green River Female Academy
Location 204 Goebel Avenue, Elkton, Kentucky

36°48′21″N 87°9′9″W / 36.80583°N 87.15250°W / 36.80583; -87.15250Coordinates: 36°48′21″N 87°9′9″W / 36.80583°N 87.15250°W / 36.80583; -87.15250

Built 1835
Architect R. Rowland
Architectural style Federal-Greek Revival Transitional
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference #


Added to NRHP December 06, 1990

The Green River Female Academy in Todd County, Kentucky is one of the best indications of early 19th century attitudes towards equal opportunities for women in the United States and is a prime example of early Kentucky Federal and Greek Revival architecture.


The school was built for the trustees of the Green River Female Academy, begun in 1835 and completed in 1836 using slave labor donated by local plantations. The five-bay double pile building stands on a 1.5-acre (0.61 ha) donated site that once was a part of the Francis Marion Bristow plantation known as Edward Hall in the city of Elkton. The Green River Female Academy is the only school predating the Civil War in the Green River region to survive. The building has had 16 owners, all of which have made alterations to the function of the estate and/or its appearance.


The building was designed by local gentleman architect David V. Robinson in both the Federal and Greek-Revival styles and is a representation of the transition between the styles. The exterior of the building is designed primarily in the Federal style with a projecting pediment over the central bay. The interior radiates from a central hallway that traverses three floors. The plan is symmetrical on all floors. Robinson possibly used the pattern books of Asher Benjamin and John Haviland to create his plan and details for the academy building, as many of the details align in form with the designs featured in Benjamin and Haviland's pattern books.


Stock for the project was sold to wealthy families, especially gentleman planters, throughout the south. The project was marketed as a respite for girls and young ladies, from the heat and disease of the deep south. Funds from the issued stock were used to construct the academy building. The school grew to become very prominent in the 19th century. Kentucky, along with North Carolina, boasted the best schools in the nation.[2] The school remained an all female academy until the Civil War. The repositioning of wealth throughout the south after the war required a new approach to the economic recovery of the school. Thereafter, this former female seminary school allowed both men and women to attend. Many graduates of the Academy attended colleges in the northeast including Yale and Columbia. Notable figures including United States Supreme Court Justice James Clark McReynolds attended the school,[3] excelling in academics under West Point Graduate Major Robert Crumbaugh.[4] The school held its prestige until the late 1880s. Elkton became a center of education in the late 19th century after the introduction of various colleges, seminaries and academies, including the Vanderbilt Training School and Bethel Women's College. After these schools were introduced to the area, attendance at the Green River Academy began to fall. After the school became defunct, the stock was sold in majority to the City of Elkton Trustees and was used as a public school for the community of Elkton. The school remained in operation until the stock was dissolved and the building was thereafter converted into a residence by the Judge Walton Forgy.


The Green River Academy Preservation Society controls the estate, sponsors academic and professional research and allows tours of the building to the general public by appointment. The organization presents the estate to visitors as a study of the progress of the estate's development over time. The Green River Academy Preservation Society was awarded a grant $500,000 in the spring of 2011 to restore the building. The restoration is currently in progress (2013).


External links

  • Green River Academy Preservation Society homepage
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