Green River Academy is a prime historic example of the importance of early American education.
Originally formed as an institution of higher learning for young women, Green River Academy was founded by a planting community in pioneer lands. The subjects taught at the Academy were advanced, equal to that of subjects taught to young men, and included astronomy, mathematics, science. The school taught political figures, writers, and business leaders throughout its nearly 75-year operation.
The Green River Female Academy is one of the best indications of early 19th century attitudes towards equal opportunities for women in the United States. The Academy is also prime example of the transition between Federal and early Greek Revival architecture. The school’s Main Building was the first building erected , constructed in 1835, was created for the Green River Female Academy by contributions and subscriptions of southern planters which, eventually organized to become the founding members of the Green River Academy Society. Soon, the popularity of the school grew amongst families of the south and the school expanded to a campus with multiple auxiliary buildings. Kentucky at the time, along with North Carolina, were considered to have the best educational institutions in the nation. Unusually progressive attitudes of the Academy’s instructors as described in early historical records indicate that enslaved people were taught to read and write at the school, an effort that was considered during the time period to generally be socially unacceptable.
After the American Civil War began in 1861, attendance of the school dropped sharply. In order to regain lost attendance numbers, the school admitted young men. The school held its prominence with many of its male graduates attending Yale, Harvard and Columbia. In the later portion of the 19th century, the perception of Kentucky as a primitive, rough and wild region of the nation became common amongst the national population. As a result, the Green River Academy became defunct and the Academy building was released to the Academy Society member holding the most stock in the organization and the remaining stock was dissolved.
After serving as a public school during the late 1880′s, the Academy was converted into a private residence. S. Walton Forgy purchased the building and made cosmetic updates to the interior and exterior, adding a colossal (two-story height), columned porch to the facade. Forgy both purchased and renovated the building as a wedding gift to his wife Elizabeth. In the mid 1900′s, the house was sold to the Mansfield family who continued to use the building as a home, converting many of the rooms into apartments to bring in additional income during World War II.