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Knapp Hall: Home

Written by Heather Dent

Knapp Hall

Knapp Hall


The dedication of Knapp Hall as a training school for rural teachers took place on December 16, 1913. The building was a gift from Miss Katherine Knapp as a memorial to her brother, Arthur Mason Knapp. It stands today as a little brick building, located at a five minutes walking distance from other campus classrooms. Knapp Hall has served as a student observation and teaching facility for Berea College elementary education majors. It was under the supervision of the Foundation School, but it had its own separate principle and functioned primarily on its own. In 1956 Knapp Hall was transferred to the College Department of Education.
Knapp Hall taught students from first grade to eighth grade. The building contained four separate classrooms, designed to fit two grades in each room. The staff consisted of five regular teachers in addition to special teachers in the departments of music, art and physical education. The majority of pupils attending Knapp Hall were children of the Berea College staff. Approximately one-third of the students came from outside Berea borders.

Student observation and teaching at Knapp Hall were mandatory for elementary education majors. Students regularly visited Knapp Hall from the moment they became freshmen. There they observed the classroom activities at the age level of their choice. Berea students were asked to examine not only the environment of the classroom as a whole, but also individual students. Each elementary education major selected one student from Knapp Hall for special study, recorded their observations of the specific child, and then wrote a final essay summarizing their studies. When these elementary education majors reached their senior year they became student teachers at Knapp Hall.

Knapp Hall Organizations

Many students from the fifth and sixth grade of Knapp Hall joined the National Junior Audubon Society each year. This club was named in honor of John James Audubon, the great painter and student of birds. Each participating student received six pictures of different kinds of birds and folders telling the range, homes, and habits of each bird. The fee to be in this club cost ten cents. Every two months the National Audubon Society News was delivered to the classroom where the students could do puzzles, read jokes and short stories, and look at other Audubon groups and the pictures they have drawn. During the summer many of the students kept a record of the birds they saw.

The boys of the seventh and eighth grade were involved in a program called Sloyd woodwork. There they learned to make items such as door props, walking tops, book racks, checker boards, study tables, foot stools, crumb scrapers, and serving trays. The girls in seventh and eighth grade were taught home economics. They learned how to sew pajamas, shoe bags, laundry bags, and knap sacks. They were also taught how to cook. One girl recalls making “salads, tomato soup, sandwiches, custard, tapioca cream, and uncooked candy.” She said, “There was a little rule we learned about mixing tomatoes and milk so they wouldn’t curdle. It was to put the tomatoes in the milk instead of putting the milk in the tomatoes. To remember this we think of the first three letters in tomato. Tomatoes On Milk – T.O.M. All of these foods are used often and therefore useful.”

Field Trips

The students of Knapp Hall were taken on a variety of field trips, some to important locations outside Berea such as Frankfurt, and others to local Berea sites such as the president’s home or the piggery. One boy reflects on his trip to the piggery, “We saw big hogs and little pigs. One hog weighed 860 pounds. We enjoyed watching the mother hog with her baby pigs. Mr. Stewart told us to be very quiet because noise would make the mother-hog nervous and she would step on her little ones. Two little pigs got into a fight. The mother hog had to separate them. Mr. Stewart let all of us hold one of the baby pigs. The hogs have a nice barn to live in and plenty to eat.”

Writing Examples of Knapp Hall Students

Getting to Berea

One day I was cleaning house. I saw a car stop out in front. I went to the door and there were two men. I asked them to come in. One I knew and the other I didn’t. Edd Sturgill was the one I knew. He said, “Do you recognize this man?” I said “No, but it seems as if I have seen him before.” They laughed at me. Edd said, “This is your brother Henry.” Was I surprised. I said, “I never thought of that being Henry because I haven’t seen him in eight years.”

Henry said in a few weeks he was going back to school. I thought “A big boy like him going to school? I don’t think I am going to like him much because he talks proper.” He didn’t go to school right away. He went to his sister’s and stayed there awhile and I went with him. We came back home to talk with my father about me coming to Berea. I said, “What do I want to go to Berea for?” Dad said “You will go. Be a good girl and mind the lady that you are going to stay with.”

I went into the other room and packed and was soon on my way to Berea. I saw many interesting things. When we got to Berea I said, “I don’t like it at all and I am not going to stay.” But I did and now I go to school at Knapp Hall and like to because it is the best school I have ever been to.

Bonnie Baker – 5th Grade


How the leaves with rushing sound
Flashing, flying all around,
And when I ask “Where are you going?’
Suddenly stops, and the wind is blowing
Then all at once it starts to rain
Then I go back in the house again.

Margaret Huntington – 4th Grade

Splitting through the foaming brine,
As white as any snow or lime
The southern wind has cupped our sails
As water splashes over the siding rails
The bow goes up and then splashes down
And up come the water
Like a big white gown
Sailing is fun, up or under
Splashing through the water
Like a roll of thunder

Dan Capps - 8th Grade

Additional Resources

  • Berea College Vertical File, Special Collections and Archives
  • RG 6.06 – Knapp Hall News, Berea College Archives
  • RG 6.2 – Knapp Hall Training School, Berea College Archives
  • Walters, Roy N. Historical Summary of the Foundation School, Berea College, Berea, Kentucky. Berea, Ky.: Berea College, 1974.

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