From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Lexington Colored Orphan Industrial Home

(start date: 1892  -  end date: 1980) 

The Colored Orphan Home in Lexington, KY was incorporated with E. Belle Mitchell Jackson as president; Emma O.Warfield, vice president; Ida W. Bate [wife of John W. Bate] secretary; Priscilla Lacey, treasurer; and 11 other women members of the Ladies Orphans Home Society. Captain Robert H. Fitzhugh, who was white, was a professional philanthropist for the home.

Support for the home came from bequests, fund-raising, and donations. The home was located on Georgetown Pike [Georgetown Street] in Lexington. The board members served as matrons of the home and donated food and supplies. The home took in orphaned and abandoned children, a few elderly women, and half-orphans (children with one parent); the parent of a half-orphan was charged for the child's board at the home.

Board members determined when a child would be returned to its parents; there were a few adoptions and foster care placements, but the goal was to educate the children and teach them an industrial trade in preparation for adulthood. In addition to classwork, house chores, and gardening, the children were taught kitchen duties, cooking, carpentry, chair-caning, laundry, and sewing. The  children made all of the clothes and linen at the home and also made and repaired  shoes for the children at the home as well as shoes made for sale to the community.

The home was renamed the Robert H. Williams Children's Home and the operation continued untill 1988. When there were no longer any children at the home, the facility name was changed to the Robert H. Williams Cultural Center.

For more see Lexington's Colored Orphan Industrial Home: building for the future, by L. F. Byars; and Colored Orphan Industrial Home Records, 1892-1979 at the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Lexington Colored Orphan Industrial Home,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 15, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-10-24 17:55:41