A Brief History of Fern Creek

The first human inhabitants of Fern Creek, Kentucky, were Native Americans. While they were here, they used a trail that was created by the large numbers of buffalo living in the Ohio Valley. The bison would travel from the falls, on the Ohio River, to the extensive salt licks along the lower Salt River, packing the earth as they moved. This made a “natural” highway that was also traveled by early settlers, and later became known as Bardstown Pike.

Named for the abundance of ferns growing along the banks of a stream located twelve miles south of Louisville, Fern Creek was established along Bardstown Pike in the late 1700s. The town was first known as Stringtown on the Pike, because the settlers homes and buildings were “strung out” along the road. This area of the county has always had an abundance of water, from both springs and creeks, and, with a “road” running north and south through the farming community, allowing easy access to Louisville and her ready markets for all types of agricultural products, Fern Creek steadily grew.

The first area school was a log cabin built in 1792. It was located in what is now known as the Buechel area, several miles to the north of Fern Creek. There were no desks. Rough slabs of wood were used for seating, where spelling, arithmetic, and grammar were taught. Another early school occupied one room in the home of Bryan Williams. The house, located at a stagecoach stop, served as a school from 1858 until 1897.

A private school, The Morrison Academy, was located at the intersection of Bardstown Road and Seatonville Road. This school was in the home of William Morrison and served as the areas only high school. Latin, algebra, English, history, and literature were taught. In the early 1900s Fern Creek’s first real schoolhouse, a frame two-room building, stood in the circle where the first interurban car loop was located. The population of the area steadily grew, as did the number of small, often one-room schools. In 1922, Bardstown Road was paved. A year later, Simeon A. Stivers donated three acres of land to be used as the building site of the first Fern Creek School. Money was raised by the community and a brick, four-room facility, was erected. This new building housed the elementary and high school. Many of the area's smaller schools closed to combine with the new Fern Creek School. These included: Fairmount, Independence, Primrose, Swamp College, Seatonville School, Fairmount School, Lovvorn, Johnson School, High View School, Brintlinger School, and Stonestreet School. By 1941, the number of students attending Fern Creek School had outgrown the building. A new facility was erected adjacent to the original structure and Fern Creek High School moved into a new and much larger building. The old building became Fern Creek Elementary School.

James E. Farmer was Fern Creek Elementary School’s first principal, followed by Conrad Ott and then Fred Caudill. In 1967, a new Fern Creek Elementary School was built. Mr. Caudill remained as principal until 1975. The leadership position was briefly held by Robert B. Spencer. From 1976 through the 1989 school year, Roger Conwell was principal. Upon Mr. Conwell's retirement, Dr. Carol Montgomery became principal and served in this position until her promotion to Director of School Programs and Services for the Jefferson County Public Schools in August, 2004. Cheryl Rigsby was assigned the duty of interim principal. In December 2004, Fern Creek Elementary School-Site Based Decision Making Committee unanimously recommended and hired Ms. Rigsby as the school's principal.

Located just behind Fern Creek Traditional High School, the new Fern Creek Elementary School was designed by architects Hartstern, Schnell & Associates. The two-level design is both modern and functional. The school now sits on twenty-five acres of park-like rolling hills. There is a nature trail that meanders for about 3 miles through and around the school's property. The trail passes through meadows, wildflower gardens, woods, along and over Little Fern Creek to outdoor classrooms and a natural amphitheater. The trail, developed by our science teacher Vera Prater, is used to teach students about the environment and provides a place for our community to walk or jog while enjoying nature.

A large addition to Fern Creek Elementary School was constructed in 2001. The new wing was built to house the Library Media Center and Computer Lab. The media center has a broadcast studio for a morning telecast, large storage areas, risers for whole class story times, a professional development area, and many large open shelving units for the numerous books in its inventory. The computer lab can accommodate up to thirty-four students at a time. Technology is taught and all subject areas are reinforced through the use of computers, software, and the internet.

Over the years, Fern Creek Elementary School has received numerous awards. With America's Choice School training, the school has received numerous grants for Extended School Services (ESS), Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environment (CSILE), Family Resource Center(FRC), PDS University of Louisville Collaboration, Renaissance Initiative, Technology, Creative Connections for the Arts, Exceptional Child Education (ECE) Collaboration, and School to Work and LEAD. Our school has received the Neighborly Inviting Center of Education (NICE) School Award. In addition, Fern Creek Elementary is the only elementary school chosen to be part of World Rhythms/Cultural Connections grant sponsored by General Electric Corporation in the amount of $750,000. This grant was presented in collaboration with the Muhammad Ali Center and the Kentucky Center for the Arts.

Much of the information for this page was found in the book:
Written and Compiled by The Fern Creek Woman's Club, 1976