Science Hill breaks new ground in education for girls - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Science Hill breaks new ground in education for girls

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SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Science Hill is something you don't want to miss in Shelby County.  Known now for its restaurant and shops, it had very different beginnings and was renowned for something else for more than 100 years. 

The house nestled in downtown Shelbyville captured the heart of a couple in 1824. John Tevis and his wife Julia, a teacher, stopped to visit family during a move from Virginia to Louisville. The home fit perfectly into Julia Tevis' vision for an all-girls boarding school. But she wanted to go beyond reading, writing, and the social graces and teach something different to her students -- science.

Matt Burnett of Wakefield-Scearce Galleries says, "It was really unheard of, especially west of the Appalachians -- basically boys were taught math and science.  She wanted to bring it to girls in the Kentucky wilderness."

It didn't take a rocket scientist to come up with the name Science Hill.  Burnett says, "She was on this property looking out the north side and it was up on a hill."

For 114 years, women from all over the country walked these halls.  Burnett says, "It was kind of a hidden gem, it put Shelby County on the map because we were a stopoff point in the wilderness between major routes, but it became a cultural center."

You don't have to look far to see the history -- behind some shutters, Science Hill students etched their names in the glass.  Some of them date back to the 1880s.

It survived lots of ups and downs, but there was one hurdle the school couldn't overcome. It became a victim of the Great Depression, closing in 1939.

Several years later, two men rented the space that once housed the school's auditorium to sell English antiques. Their names -- Wakefield and Scearce -- have graced the doors of a gallery ever since. A grandson of Mark Scearce still works there, marking the third generation of his family to do so.

Burnett says, "We think the history of the school and the history of the items dovetail well together.  We feel like both the histories, they go well together."

Other shops and a restaurant, the Science Hill Inn, are newer additions. The restaurant is housed in what was once the school's dining room.  Its southern comfort food comes highly recommended.

Burnett says, "They're known for their fried chicken.  Julia Child says its the best chicken she's ever put in her mouth."

A school put it on the map, but history is only one subject that's still pulling people back to Science Hill.

"For the community, not so much the history but economically, we draw people from all 50 states, feel like the property kind of puts Shelby County in the spotlight for people who enjoy history.  We hope to continue that tradition."

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