The Kentucky Military Institute

The Kentucky Military Institute, established in 1845, was a renowned private military school known for its rigorous curriculum and strict discipline. After the Civil War, it transitioned to prepare students for professional careers. The school faced financial troubles and closed in 1887 but reopened the following year. It later moved from Frankfort to Mt. Sterling and then to Jefferson County. Dissatisfaction with the military and financial difficulties led to its final closure in 1971.

The Kentucky Military Institute was established by Colonel Robert Thomas Pircairn Allen, a graduate of West Point, who was experienced in military and education. After graduation in 1834, Allen served as a captain in the Seminole War and supervised military activities on Lake Michigan. He married Julia Bond, niece of President Andrew Jackson, whom he had met while visiting the White House. After his retirement from the Army, Allen served as a mathematics instructor at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. Allen and Julia visited the Scanlan Spring, or Franklin Springs, as it was sometimes called. He was impressed with the beauty and country atmosphere and thought this would be a good location for a private military school. The property was located on Farmdale Road about six miles south of Frankfort. By carriage it took about an hour to arrive at the springs. In 1845, Allen purchased the property and opened his school as Kentucky Institute. Two years later a charter was granted by the General Assembly to Kentucky Military Institute. The school had a reputation for its’ excellent instructors, a demanding course of study and strict discipline. It attracted many students from the South and a few from the North. After the Civil War, the school changed its curriculum to prepare students for professional occupations. Robert Allen turned control of the school over to his son, Robert D. Allen. The school fell into bankruptcy in 1887 and closed its’ doors, however, reopened the next year. Later KMI left its campus in Frankfort and moved to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky.

Dr. John Q. A. Stewart, superintendent of the Kentucky Feeble-Minded Institute, resigned his position and purchased the abandoned KMI property in 1893. He opened his establishment on September 1, 1893, as a school for the mentally challenged. Today, Stewart Home School remains under the supervision of the Stewart family as a well known and highly regarded facility for special education

In 1896, under the supervision of Charles Wesley Fowler, Kentucky Military Institute was again moved from Mt. Sterling to a campus in Jefferson County, Kentucky near Lyndon. Fowler, in 1906, began the practice of moving students and faculty to a winter campus in Florida during the months between Christmas and Easter. In 1924, the school again closed and reopened the following year under superintendent Charles B. Richmond. According to the city archives, KMI moved to Venice, Florida in 1932. The school prospered greatly under his direction. However, by the late 1960’s dissatisfaction with the military and rising tuition cost caused financial difficulties for KMI and other military schools. KMI was closed for the last time in 1971.

Kentucky Military Institute built in 1846
Kentucky Military Institute built in 1846


  1. Capital on the Kentucky, by Kramer
  2. The Kentucky Encyclopedia, by Kleber
  3. Venice, Florida city archives

Additional Notes:

Carol Allen Gibson, gr-gr-granddaughter of Robert T. P. Allen, states she has a copy of a letter written by Robert to a government official, in which he spelled his full name as Robert Thomas Prichett Allen. The original letter is in the National Archives and was written in connection with a land warrant. Carol further states Robert married Julia Anne Dickinson and not Julia Bond a niece of Andrew Jackson. Julia Anne Dickinson was the daughter of Jacob Dickinson, Jr. and her mother was a Bond.

1 thought on “The Kentucky Military Institute”

  1. This is very interesting, thank you! I’m actually researching a small college called Salem College that operated in Garnettsville, Meade County, KY from 1867 to 1871 and then re-opened in 1881 and then seemingly closed for good about 1885. It’s first “President” (basically, its principal) was Professor William Bramwell Hayward, who was a well-known Kentucky educator at the time. Dr. Henry Kinser Pusey was the Secretary of its Board of Trustees. Have you ever come across anything about it or its faculty or students in your research?

    Thank you,

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