"Soon after, I returned home to my family, with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise, at the risk of my life and fortune.
Daniel Boone


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lafayette Academy in Lexington

Lexington Herald-Leader:Tom Eblen

Lafayette Academy was built between 1817 and 1820 for John P. Aldridge's Lancasterian Academy. His students included the future architect Gideon Shryock, who designed Transylvania University's Old Morrison and the Old State Capitol in Frankfort.

Aldridge's building soon became Col. Josiah Dunham's Lexington Female Academy, whose students came from 11 states and included the daughters of Lexington's most prominent families. By 1825 — the height of Lexington's fame as the "Athens of the West" — the academy had 135 pupils, nine instructors and a governing board that included statesman Henry Clay and Transylvania President Horace Holley.

That star power is probably what led the 67-year-old French general to stop by for a tribute on the afternoon of May 16, 1825. He was visiting Lexington as part of a celebrated tour across the grateful nation he helped create.

Lafayette arrived with a military escort and the governors of Kentucky and Tennessee in tow. Dunham's pupils sang patriotic songs and recited verse in both English and French. "It was here that as successful an effort was made to gratify our visitor as has been attempted in any quarter of the union," the Kentucky Gazette reported.

Lafayette was moved, according to another published account. "Well may this heart, old, but warm in its feelings, palpitate, at the sound of your patriotic and affectionate accents," he told the young ladies.

In honor of the general's visit, Dunham had renamed his school Lafayette Female Academy. Enrollment grew and the building's rear wing was added about 1830.

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