Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Gov. Beshear celebrates re-opening of former Cherokee State Park facility
Historic African-American facility to be part of Kenlake State Resort Park
AURORA, Ky. – Gov. Steve Beshear took part in a ceremony today to celebrate the renovation of a building that once served as a state park for African Americans in the days of segregation.
The renovated dining hall at the former Cherokee State Park near the Kentucky Lake shoreline will be used as a meeting and event facility for Kenlake State Resort Park. Cherokee, which included a bathhouse, beach and cottages, opened in 1951 to serve African American guests. It was closed in the 1960s with desegregation.
“This project preserves an important aspect of African American history, an important part of state park history and an important part of Kentucky history,” Gov. Beshear said. “It will become another distinctive attraction for Kenlake State Resort Park and this region.”
The former park and the remaining structures were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
The Kentucky State Parks have been working on improvements at the dining hall for the last few years. The property is now part of Kenlake and the dining hall will be used for special events, meetings and weddings.
Gov. Beshear recognized the efforts of the Friends of Cherokee, a local support organization interested in preserving the building. Besides members of the friends’ group, the Governor was joined by Tourism, Arts and Heritage Secretary Marcheta Sparrow, Parks Commissioner Gerry van der Meer and Marshall County Judge-Executive Mike Miller.