Historical marker #2052 celebrates the community of Jonesville in Warren County.
For nearly a century following Emancipation, from the 1860s through the 1950s, Jonesville was home to a vibrant black community. Founded by formerly enslaved men and women, the neighborhood emerged from segregated housing practices and policies, yet came to have “just about everything” the community needed. Hundreds of people lived in the area, which also supported two churches and local businesses. People who grew up in Jonesville remember “a farming area” and “very close-knit community” that was “very family oriented.”
In the late 1950s, as Western Kentucky University expanded its campus down off the hilltop, Jonesville was designated a site for urban renewal and the land was purchased by the state during the 1960s. Subsequently, the university purchased the land from the state. Many of WKU's modern athletic facilities, including the Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith football stadium, the E.A. Diddle basketball arena, and the Nick Denes baseball field, are located where Jonesville once stood.
Through the work of sponsor and former Jonesville resident Maxine Ray and the support of Western Kentucky University, marker 2052 was dedicated on April 10, 2001. Ray described the marker as particularly significant since it “confirmed our existence in that spot at that time” because “now if you walked through there, you never would think of a community being there."
The marker reads:
Jonesville - This African American community was founded after the Civil War. It was bordered by Dogwood Dr., Russellville Road, and the railroad tracks. The community grew to include several hundred residents, an elementary school, businesses, and two churches. Frame and hand-hewn stone houses lined the streets of Jonesville. (Reverse)
Jonesville - The lives of most residents of this close African American community revolved around church, school and family activities. In the late 1950s Jonesville was one of two areas in Bowling Green designated for urban renewal. By 1968 the state had acquired the land and sold it to the university. Presented by Western Kentucky University.
For more on Jonesville, including interviews with former residents and local artwork, see the short documentary "Jonesville: A Neighborhood in Bowling Green, Kentucky".
The marker was dedicated on April 10, 2001.