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Explore Kentucky’s Historic Sites
American history springs to life when you visit Kentucky’s historic sites. Learn tales of Lincoln, Boone and the early towns of the Bluegrass State.
Located in Hodgenville, the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Historical Site reveals tales of the 16th President’s earliest days, including a replica of his log cabin. From there, take a drive to his childhood home in Knob Creek.
Follow in the footsteps of Daniel Boone to Boone Station, southeast of Lexington, which was his frontier home in the late 1700s, or visit Waveland, an estate surveyed by Boone for his family. The original structure was replaced with the 10-acre plantation you see today.
Don’t miss touring Henry Clay Plantation in Ashland, the antebellum Hunt-Morgan House in Gratz Park Historic District, Latrobe’s 1811 Pope Villa or Mary Todd Lincoln’s home in downtown Lexington. Architecture buffs touring Covington will love the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption. While in Ashland, visit the 1931 Paramount Arts Center, noted as one of the first movie theaters.
Historic districts featuring notable landmark buildings can be found throughout Kentucky. Preserved districts reside inside Georgetown, Campbellsville, Winchester and Lexington. And if you are staying in Eastern Kentucky, don’t miss McConnell Springs.
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Historical Site
It can be argued Abraham Lincoln is one of, if not the most, influential presidents in history. On your next visit to east-central Kentucky, be sure to visit and explore the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Historical Site in Hodgenville. Make the scenic drive in from Campbellsville and learn about Lincoln's early life.
Marking the site of Lincoln's birth and his boyhood home until the age of seven, the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park features the Sinking Spring Site, where you can check out Knob Creek and the reconstructed replica of the original one-bedroom log cabin where Lincoln grew up.
Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate
Make time to connect with the rich history of the state of Kentucky, while in Lexington. Visit Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate, to tour this historical mansion, the former home of Henry Clay. Between 1825 and 1829, Clay served as the Secretary of State and the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives for the state of Kentucky. In 1809, he had this historical plantation and mansion built for his residence, where he lived until he died in 1852.
Visit this National Historic Landmark of eastern Kentucky – a short drive from Georgetown – to enjoy a guided tour the 18-room house museum. View the exhibits in the Henry Clay exhibit room, stroll through the formal garden and take your time touring the property outbuildings. Before leaving the museum, step into the Ashland Museum Store to browse the selection of books, souvenirs and memorabilia for a remembrance of your visit.
While traveling in eastern Kentucky, take time to reconnect with the past. Make your way southeast of Lexington, to Boone Station. This historical site is where American explorer Daniel Boone lived for three years, in the late 1700s, during the American Revolutionary War. In total, approximately fifteen to twenty families lived on the site and joined forces against the American Indians.
Visit this 46-acre state historic site to view the reconstructed cabins and see life as it was centuries ago. Due to the significance of Boone's settlement of the Kentucky frontier, Daniel and Rebecca Boone's bodies were eventually moved to the State Cemetery located in Frankfort.
Campbellsville Historic Commercial District
While traveling through eastern Kentucky, slow your pace and spend quality time in the city of Campbellsville. This historic city, founded in 1817, is home to many beautiful historic buildings and sites. Connect with the past as you stroll through the Campbellsville Historic Commercial District, located along Main Street in downtown Campbellsville.
As you walk by these historic stone, iron and brick buildings, take note of the detailed features of these Italianate architecture style buildings. One of the prominent buildings is the three-story Merchant Tower, built in 1910 with a Romanesque style. This former hotel was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption is located in the northeastern Kentucky community of Covington, near Florence.
Completed in 1901, the Basilica sanctuary's design is inspired by the world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Architecture buffs will note the building’s striking French Gothic and Late Gothic Revival characteristics, most notably featuring the verde marble High Altar, as well as the north transept – boasting the world’s largest handmade church stained glass window.
Historic Downtown Georgetown
As you draw up your travel plans to visit Georgetown out in the eastern region of Kentucky, you'll find a wealth of premier attractions, and can't-miss sites. Whether you're gonna tour Georgetown College, make your own sweet summer drinks at Evans Orchard & Cider Mill, or find peace and tranquility at the Yuko-En on the Elkhorn, Georgetown will not steer you wrong.
One of the destinations you'll certainly want to explore the right in the heart of town – Historic Downtown Georgetown. A vibrant, historic, and charming stretch along Main Street in Georgetown, this historic area is home to, and yields easy access to, an abundance of top destinations. Visit the Scott County Arts & Cultural Welcome Center as just one of the very best stops within this historic area.
Historic Downtown Winchester
You'll discover a wide range of things to see and do during your next visit to Winchester – one of eastern Kentucky's premier cities. You'll find Winchester just east of Lexington along Interstate 64. As you plan your exploration of Winchester, be sure to include an afternoon spent touring Historic Downtown Winchester.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, Historic Downtown Winchester features an array of must-see destinations. Don't miss the Bluegrass Heritage Museum or the Clark Mansion. There are many ways to experience a true taste of eastern Kentucky – Historic Downtown Winchester just so happens to be one of the best.
During your travels of eastern Kentucky, reconnect with the past by visiting some of Lexington's historical sites. A must-see site is the Hunt-Morgan House, located in downtown's historic antebellum Gratz Park Historic District. This beautiful Federal style house was built in 1814 by John Wesley Hunt, the first millionaire west of the Allegheny Mountain Range. It's a short drive from nearby cities like Paris and Georgetown.
The first Kentucky citizen to be awarded the Nobel Prize, Dr. Thomas Hunt Morgan, was born in the house in 1866. Tour this magnificent home to see the Palladian window above the front door, the 19th century paintings and antique furniture, including original pieces from the family. Tour the Alexander T. Hunt Civil War Museum, located upstairs, to view the collection of Civil War memorabilia.
Latrobe's Pope Villa
While touring the vibrant city of Lexington, include plenty of time to tour some of the city's historical homes. The Hunt-Morgan House, Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate and Latrobe's Pope Villa are among the must-see historical estates. Visit Lexington's Aylesford Historic District to see the Pope Villa, designed by Benjamin Henry Labtrobe in 1811. This neoclassical avant-garde estate remains the most preserved of the three residents designed by Latrobe, the first professional architect in the country.
This exquisite home was saved from demolition by the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation in 1987. Tour this magnificent home to view the circular domed rotunda, curvilinear rooms and detailed architecture, undergoing restoration. This restoration effort ensures that this historical treasure continues to tell its story for generations to come. Enjoy your visit to eastern Kentucky and Georgetown.
Lexington History Center
The historical city of Lexington has roots dating back to 1775, several years before Kentucky became a state. In 1782, the town was officially established and by 1820, it was one of the largest of all the towns located west of the Allegheny Mountain Range. These historical facts on the development of this fine city, are on display throughout the Lexington History Center. Visit from nearby Paris or Georgetown.
Make your way to downtown Lexington to visit this wonderful center, housed in the former Fayette County Courthouse. Schedule plenty of time to tour the Kentucky Renaissance Pharmacy Museum, the Isaac Scott Hathaway Museum, the Lexington Public Safety Museum and the Lexington History Museum. These fine museums provide a wealth of information on the rich history of Lexington, in the Bluegrass Region of eastern Kentucky.
Mary Todd Lincoln House
Reconnect with the history of Lexington during your visit to eastern Kentucky by touring some of the historical landmarks of the city. The Hunt-Morgan House, Latrobe's Pope Villa and the Mary Todd Lincoln House are among some of the must-see landmarks. This historical late Georgian home in downtown Lexington was the childhood residence of the wife of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth United States President. When the doors of this home museum opened to the public in 1977, it became the first home museum in the country to honor a First Lady. Visit from nearby Paris or Georgetown.
This beautiful 1806 home was originally built as a inn until Robert S. Todd purchased the home in 1832. Mary Todd Lincoln lived in the home from her birth in 1818 until 1839, when she moved to Springfield, Illinois. The rest of the Todd family lived in the house until Robert Todd died in 1849. Tour this magnificent fourteen room home to see the family photographs and original furniture. At the end of the tour, visit the Museum Store to browse the selection of books and educational items.
Take a break while visiting the "Horse Capital of the World," by enjoying the natural greenspace of the city. Schedule time to explore McConnell Springs, a National Registered Historic Site, located near Georgetown. This beautiful area of eastern Kentucky was discovered by William McConnell in 1775, when he found a natural spring at the campsite with his fellow frontier men.
Throughout the years, the park location was the site of a variety of facilities, including a distillery, a mill, a gunpowder factory and dairy farm. Stroll through this lush park to see portions of the original foundations, along with the bubbling natural springs, wetlands and the locust grove. Local children enjoy field trips to the park and exploring its natural beauty.
Paramount Arts Center
See one of the most historic and important sites in eastern Kentucky during your next visit. Don't miss out on a tour and a show at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland. This National Register of Historic Places landmark was built in 1931 as one of the very first motion picture theaters.
Fun Trivia: the music video for the 1992 smash hit song "Achy Beaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus was filmed at the Paramount Arts Center. Today, this historic Kentucky venue hosts a wide range of shows – top recording artists, Broadway plays, and more.
Waveland State Historic Site
Kentucky's roots date back to 1775, when American pioneer and frontiersman Daniel Boone first explored and settled the area. Daniel Boone surveyed 2,000 acres of land, located south of downtown Georgetown, for his nephew Daniel Boone Bryan. Once Bryan died, his son Joseph Bryan, Sr. demolished the original stone home to build the Greek Revival style Waveland Mansion. The estate was owned by a few different families throughout the years, until 1971 when it was established as the Waveland State Historic Site.
Make your way to this beautiful 10-acre site to view the mansion and grounds to see what life was like on a plantation in the 1840s. In addition to the mansion, enjoy a guided tour of the brick servants quarters, the smokehouse, the ice house and the barn. While on the grounds, take a break for a picnic lunch on the lawn, while the kids play on the playground. Before leaving, browse the selection of items in the Gift Shop. Enjoy spending time at this wonderful historical site during your eastern Kentucky travels.