The Berea College Board of Trustees has authorized the college administration to move forward with an application for a “Qualified Historic Site License” that would permit the sale of alcoholic beverages by the drink at historic Boone Tavern Hotel & Restaurant. After the Board of Trustees carefully considered the action for more than a year, the final decision took place during the board meeting on February 21 and 22, and followed an extensive process in which the college’s administration received input and opinions from faculty, staff, students, local officials, community leaders and citizens on the subject. We did not choose to survey our complete alumni community, because we do not have a means of doing that systematically, but we do have quite a number of alumni who are faculty and staff at the College. Those alumni who are employed by the College responded to the survey with the same level of support for moving forward with alcohol sales at Boone Tavern, as non-alumni who work at the College. The survey showed strong overall support for moving forward, but of course not unanimity, because this is an issue on which reasonable people do not find ready agreement.
Voters in the east Berea precinct approved the limited sale of alcoholic beverages at qualified historic sites under this type of license during an election held in April 2012. Boone Tavern Hotel & Restaurant and the Churchill Weavers property are both located in this precinct and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Mercer County has operated under this type of license since 2007.
The application is planned to be filed on June 30, 2014. President Lyle D. Roelofs states much remains to be done to assure that the sale of alcoholic beverages is managed well and in a way that does not detract from the college’s educational mission, and will not affect Berea College’s campus policies regarding drugs and alcohol. This is consistent with Boone Tavern’s long-standing traditions of hospitality and excellent service. The hotel opened in 1909 to serve guests of the college and visitors to Berea.