Zion Hill / Zion Hill School

Historical marker #2267 celebrates the history of the Zion Hill community and Zion Hill School in Scott County.

The village of Zion Hill dates back to the antebellum era, prior to Emancipation and the end of slavery in Kentucky. The community was originally known as “Lenerson” and also went by the name “South Elkhorn Bend” before it settled on Zion Hill. Some of the land that was incorporated into Zion Hill was deeded to African American residents by a Virginian named Harris who owned land and slaves in the area. Freedmen and women subsequently added land to the community until it totaled more than 200 acres that held a church, a school, a post office, two stores, dozens of homes and hundreds of residents. It remained a vibrant village throughout the twentieth century.

Zion Hill and the Zion Hill School occupy a conspicuous place in the history of black education in Kentucky. One of the leading African American educators of the twentieth century, Whitney M. Young, Sr., attended grade school Lenerson before its name changed to Zion Hill. Young Sr. later served as the first African American director of the Lincoln Institute in Shelby County and was the two-time president of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association. As Rosenwald schools, funded by the philanthropist Julius Rosenwald in collaboration with Booker T. Washington, sprang up across the south to educate black students in the era of school segregation, Zion Hill became home to one of the institutions. The Rosenwald schools aimed to provide educational opportunities to African Americans that were denied to them by the public school system and often became points of pride within the local communities. Like those across the south, the Rosenwald school in Zion Hill helped a generation of black Kentuckians to carve out brighter futures for themselves than would otherwise have been possible. The Rosenwald school in Zion Hill closed in 1945, after which local students were bussed to other county schools.

The marker reads:

Zion Hill
Established prior to the end of slavery. Originally known as South Elkhorn Bend & Lenerson. The name was later changed to Zion Hill. It was a prominent African American community with two stores, church, and post office. Whitney M. Young, president of Lincoln Institute, a black boarding school, began his early education here.

Zion Hill School
(Reverse) Site of one of the 158 Rosenwald Schools constructed in Kentucky between 1917 and 1932. The one-room schoolhouse provided an education for African American children required to attend segregated schools. This program grew out of Booker T. Washington’s vision for educational reform & his partnership with Julius Rosenwald. Presented by the Zion Hill Neighborhood Assoc.

The marker was dedicated on August 16, 2008.