Dedicated in July 1971, the Jesse Stuart Lodge at the Greenbo Lake State Resort Park was named for one of Greenup, Kentucky's most notable figures in the 20th century. Stuart, an internationally acclaimed author, poet, traveler, and educator, enriched his audience across with his poems, short stories, and novels inspired by his life growing up in W-Hollow, Greenup County. Stuart also helped reshape the education system from one-room schoolhouse settings into county-centered school settings. With his achievements, Stuart has received many honors and accolades for his contributions to education and literature, such as the American Freedom Award in 1951 and being named the 1954 poet laureate for Kentucky.
Born on August 8, 1906 in W-Hollow, Greenup, KY, Jesse Stuart was one of the leading proponents of literature and education in the 20th century. Stuart has published over sixty books and has written over four hundred stories and three thousand poems all inspired by his life in Eastern Kentucky. One of his more popular works include his autobiography, The Thread that Runs So True (1949), which he detailed his twenty years of teaching and the many obstacles he had to overcome. Other popular works of his include his short story collections, Tales from the Plum Grove Hills (1946) and Clearing the Air and Other Stories (1950) his poetry collections Album of Destiny (1944) and Kentucky is My Land (1952).
In his works, Stuart's experiences as a teaching gained him recognition since it calls for revamping specific attributes in the education system, such as shifting from one-room classrooms to county-based schools, training teachers in specialized areas like mathematics, English, art, and science to better give students a more well-rounded education than what a one-room schoolteacher can offer. Stuart also brought his teachings abroad when he was invited to speak at international conferences about education. In one particular case, Stuart taught English composition, education, and creative writing at the American University at Cairo, Egypt for a full year between 1960-1961. When he returned home to W-Hollow, he continued to make strides in education such as traveling around the nation to give workshops and lectures.
After all of his achievements and awards, Stuart's health became a major concern. By 1971, Stuart had suffered from two heart attacks, one in August 1954 and the other in January 1971. Despite his doctors' warnings of him to recuperate and avoid writing and revision his work, Stuart persisted by smuggling his work into his hospital room to edit. Around the same time after his second heart attack, the Greenbo Lake State Resort Park finished completing a lodge. Kentucky's governor at the time, Louie B. Nunn, the Greenup Lions Club, and the Greenup Women's Club agreed to name the lodge after Stuart for all his contributions to the area. After its completion, there would have been a dedication ceremony at the lodge, but Stuart and his wife, Naomi Deane could not attend due to a violent storm occurring after their departure from writing workshop in Murray, Kentucky. Luckily, Stuart would have many chances to visit the lodge in the future.
The Jesse Stuart Lodge looks over the 225-acre Greenbo Lake; a perfect spot for fishing and boating. The lodge also has bathhouse and swimming facilities. The campground within the park has accommodations for parking recreational vehicles and many hiking trails. Beginning in the early-1980s, the Jesse Stuart Foundation and the staff at the lodge began hosting Jesse Stuart Weekends where Stuart scholars and fans would come and celebrate Stuart's life and the Appalachian way of life; these weekend sessions are still currently held today.