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Historic Tour

Kentucky History on the Frankfort Public Art Tour: Historic Timeline

  • Frontier Period

    1775-1767 - Daniel and Rebecca Boone Grave and Monument 

    Daniel Boone is well known as one of the early explorers of Kentucky. He first came to Kentucky in 1767. His wife, Rebecca, was one of the first women pioneers in Kentucky. They and their family helped to found Fort Boonesboro in 1775. Daniel and Rebecca later moved to Missouri. When they passed away, they were buried there. 

    In the 1840’s Judge Mason Brown and other community leaders decided to create a new cemetery in Frankfort. They thought it would help to promote the new cemetery to have famous people buried there. Representatives of the cemetery convinced Boone’s son to allow them to rebury his parents’ remains in t... Read More

  • Early Statehood Period

    1796 – Liberty Hall 

    John Brown was the representative to the United States Congress from Virginia when Kentucky was still part of Virginia. Brown introduced the petition for Kentucky Statehood in the US Congress. When Kentucky became a state in 1792, he resigned from the House on June 1, 1792. On June 18, Kentucky elected him to the United States Senate for a term ending in 1793. He was re-elected twice and served until 1805. 

    Liberty Hall was built for Senator John Brown in Frankfort between 1796 and 1803. It was built in an architectural style called early federal-era. 

    The grounds are open daily and tours are available from mid-March to mid-December.... Read More

  • Early Statehood Period

    1809 – Statue of Ephraim McDowell in the rotunda of the State Capitol 

    By 1795, there were several cities in Kentucky, including Danville. Dr. Ephraim McDowell was an important man in Danville in the late 1700’s and the early 1800’s. He was a surgeon and had an apothecary shop. His wife, Sarah Shelby McDowell, was the daughter of Kentucky’s first governor, Isaac Shelby. The McDowells had many luxuries that people living in the more remote log cabins of Kentucky did not have. They had a piano, silver spoons, fine china, and a library. Dr. McDowell is sometimes called “the father of abdominal surgery.” He was the first person to successfully remove an ovarian tumor. On Christmas Day, 1809, Dr. McDowell ... Read More

  • Early Statehood Period

    1830 – Construction of the Old State Capitol

    Kentucky became a state in 1792. Between 1792 and 1830, two buildings were used as the capitol building. Both burned down. In 1830 a new state capitol building was built of Kentucky River limestone. It was designed in a style called Greek Revival architecture. It was the first building in this style built west of the Mississippi River. Kentucky wanted to show the world that it was a modern, progressive state, looking to the future. It is a very grand building with a portico and fluted columns. It was used until it was reaplced by the new State Capitol building in 1910. The Old State Capitol is now a museum and part of the Kentucky Historical Society. 

    ... Read More

  • Early Statehood Period

    The Orlando Brown House, 1835 

    The Orlando Brown House was built in 1835 for Orlando Brown, the younger son of John Brown. It was built next to Liberty Hall, John Brown’s home. Today the two homes are historic museums. 

    The architect of the Orlando Brown House was Gideon Shryock, the same architect who designed the Old State Capitol. Shyrock was from Lexington, Kentucky. He was the first professional architect in Kentucky. Like the Old State Capitol, this house was built in the Greek Revival style. When you tour the house, you can see furniture, paintings, and other household items from the 1830’s. 

    The grounds are open daily and tours are available from... Read More

  • Antebellum Period

    1850 - Statue of Henry Clay in the rotunda of the State Capitol 

    Henry Clay was one of the most important political leaders of his day. Born in 1777, he moved to Kentucky in 1797. He was a lawyer, and in 1803, he was elected to the state legislature. He went on to become a United States Senator, Speaker of the House of the United States House of Representatives, and Secretary of State. Nicknamed “The Great Compromiser,” Henry Clay is remembered as the author of the Compromise of 1850, a package of five bills intended to keep a balance between slavery and anti-slavery interests in the new territories of the United States. The Compromise of 1850 eased mounting tensions between the North and the South for several yea... Read More

  • Civil War Period

    1861-1865 – Statues of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis in the rotunda of the State Capitol

    Kentucky sided with the Union during the Civil War, but the state was deeply divided. Many families supported the Union, and many families supported the Confederacy. Some families were divided, with part of the family supporting the Union and part supporting the Confederacy. Kentucky was the birthplace of both Abraham Lincoln, who was president of the United States during the Civil War, and of Jefferson Davis, who was the President of the Confederate State of America during the Civil War. There are statues of both men in the Kentucky State Capitol rotunda. 

  • Civil War Period

    1861-1865 - Kentucky African American Civil War Soldiers' Monument 

    Over 10,000 African American men joined the Union Army at Camp Nelson in Kentucky. Thousands of others had left the state to join the Union Army at other recruitment centers before it became legal for them to join at Camp Nelson. Even when it was legal, they risked being caught and punished even for trying to join the Union Army. After the Civil War ended, many memorials were built for both the Union and Confederate troops, but there was little recognition for the African American soldiers who served in the “United States Colored Troops.” In 1924 the “Colored Women’s Relief Corps” unveiled this monument to honor the African American f... Read More

  • Civil War Period

    Autumn, 1862 – Occupation of the Old State Capitol 

    Frankfort, Kentucky was the only pro-Union state capitol occupied by the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Confederate troops took over the city and the Capitol Building in autumn, 1862. Plans to swear in a Confederate governor and establish a Confederate state government were stopped by the approach of the Union army just days before the Battle of Perryville on October 8, 1862. 

    When the building was retaken by the Union Army, it was used as a barracks. 

  • Period of Industrialization

    January 30, 1900 - Assassination of Governor Goebel 

    Statue of Governor Goebel at the Old State Capitol 

    The statue of Governor William Goebel in front of the Old State Capitol is a reminder of the deeply divided politics of Kentucky at the end of the 19th century. After a bitterly contested election, Goebel, the Democratic contestant, was shot by an unidentified assailant hiding in an office in the Old Capitol Annex next door as he approached the steps to the Capitol. The legislature declared Goebel the winner. He was sworn in on his death bed and was quickly succeeded by his running mate, J.C. W. Beckham. Goebel was a champion of workers’ righ... Read More

  • Period of Industrialization

    1910- State Capitol 

    Although Frankfort had served as the capitol city of Kentucky since Kentucky became a state in 1792, it wasn’t until 1904 that the Kentucky General Assembly officially chose Frankfort to be the capitol. The Assembly appropriated $1 million for the construction of a permanent state capitol building, to be located in southern Frankfort. The official ground-breaking was August 14, 1905 and construction was completed in 1909 at a cost of $1,180,434.80.[2] The building was dedicated on June 2, 1910.[4] 

    The Kentucky State Capitol boasts an impressive collection of public art, starting with the Capitol building itse... Read More

  • Period of Industrialization

    1910 - Zeigler house

    Built in 1910, the Prairie Style Zeigler house is the only Frank Lloyd Wright designed structure in the state of Kentucky. Frank Lloyd Wright is considered the greatest of the 20th Century American Architects. Originally built for the Rev. Jesse R. Zeigler, the house has leaded art glass windows and numerous architectural features that were innovative in 1910. 

    Significant to Frankfort 

    To learn more about this site, go to: 

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  • Post World War II Period

    1948-1952 - Statue of Alben Barkley in the rotunda of the State Capitol 

    Alben Barkley was the only Vice President of the United States from Kentucky. He was born in Graves County, Kentucky, on November 24, 1877. In 1912, at the age of thirty-five, he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. That began a forty-two-year career in national politics that would take him from the House to the Senate to the vice-presidency. Barkley entered politics as a Democrat in the mold of Jefferson, Jackson, and William Jennings Bryan, but in Congress he came under the powerful influence of President Woodrow Wilson. As a Wilsonian, Barkley came to define flexibility of government and a willingness to exp... Read More

  • Post World War II Period

    1960’s - Whitney M. Young Memorial, A Champion of Civil Rights 

    The Whitney M. Young, Jr. Memorial was commissioned by the Kentucky State University Alumni Association in 1990 to honor their fellow alumni. Young was an African American civil rights leader from Shelbyville Kentucky. He spent most of his career working to end employment discrimination in the United States and turning the National Urban League from a relatively passive civil rights organization into one that aggressively fought for equitable access to socioeconomic opportunity for the historically disenfranchised. 

    The sculptor of the statue is another KSU alumnus and fellow member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fr... Read More

  • Post World War II Period

    1961-1975 - Vietnam War memorial 

    “It's my legacy as an architect,” Helm Roberts told an interviewer before his death in 2011 at the age of 80. “It’s what I will be remembered for.” And he is right. The Memorial is a profoundly personal tribute to all the Kentuckians who served and lost their lives in the Vietnam War. Roberts, a Naval Aviator veteran, designed the Memorial as a labor of love, and it is a masterpiece of mathematics as well as design. The Memorial is in the form of a large sundial. The stainless steel gnomon casts its shadow upon a granite plaza. There are 1,103 names on the memorial, including 23 missing in action. Each name is engraved into the plaza, and placed so that the tip of the... Read More