Howard School / Normal Institute / Chandler Normal School / Webster Hall (Lexington, KY)
At the end of the Civil War, the first schools for Negro children in Lexington, KY, were located in the churches: First Baptist Church, Pleasant Green Baptist Church, Main Street Baptist Church, Asbury CME Church, and Christian Church. Howard School opened in 1866 with an enrollment of 500 students and three Negro teachers. The school classes were held in the building called Ladies Hall, located on Church Street in Lexington, KY. It was a free school for the children who could not afford the tuition of a private school. The facility had been purchased from the money that was accumulated after a year of fund raising by Negro women in Lexington, KY.
Howard School was named after Freedmen's Bureau director O. O. Howard. The school was supported by the Freedmen's Bureau, the American Missionary Association (AMA) [archives at Amistad Research Center], and the Lexington Negro Public School Fund. AMA took over the school in 1866 and added six white teachers from the North. Two years later, the enrollment had increased to 900 students, and $540 was received from the public school fund to pay the teachers' wages. In 1870, the Freedmen's Bureau assisted in the funding for a new building located on Corral Street. Several other Negro schools were consolidated into Howard School, and it became the largest school in the region for Negro students.
By 1874, the name of the school had changed to Normal Institute, and again public funding was used for a portion of the teachers' wages. A year later, AMA ceased supporting the school and the city of Lexington operated the facility as a public school. At some point prior to 1888, the school was closed. AMA had the building repaired and reopened the school, and added industrial classes. Soon the enrollment exceeded the capacity of the building. Mrs. Phebe Chandler, a philanthropist from the North, donated funding for the purchase of land away from the city, and for the construction of a new school building. The new school was named Chandler Normal School, it opened in 1890 on four acres of land on Georgetown Road. Webster Hall, a home for teachers and the principal was built around 1914, it was designed by African American architect Vertner W. Tandy Sr. The Chandler Normal School closed in 1923, but the building remained and an auditorium was added in 1960.
Webster Hall was used as a parsonage for the National Temple of the House of God, at 548 Georgetown Street. In 1980, both the Chandler Normal School and Webster Hall were placed on the National Register of Historic Places [#80001509]. The property around Chandler Normal School and Webster Hall was used for the building of Lincoln Terrace Housing Projects.
For more see "Normal Institute, Lexington, Kentucky" on pages 43-44 in History of the American Missionary Association by the American Missionary Association [available at Google Books]; A History of Blacks in Kentucky, by M. B. Lucas; and "Lexington: Chandler Normal School Building - Webster Hall" in Black Heritage Sites, by N. C. Curtis. See also entries for African American Schools in the NKAA Database. See Miss Apple: letters of a Maine Teacher in Kentucky, by E. W. Cunningham, for information about the white teachers from Maine who taught at the Chandler Normal School.