8 Historic Sites in the State Capital
Frankfort became the state capital of Kentucky in 1792 after pledging more manpower toward the construction of a statehouse than any other city. During the Civil War, Frankfort was the only Union capital occupied by Confederate troops. Located astride a double curve in the Kentucky River in the central portion of the state, the Kentucky capital city is known for having one of the most beautiful capitol buildings in the country. Learn more about Frankfort and the history of Kentucky by visiting these 8 historic sites …
The home of the Kentucky Historical Society, this 167,000 square-foot museum is the repository for state history and genealogical research. A small admission fee will gain access to the museum (with temporary exhibits and a permanent exhibit named the Kentucky Journey which chronicles 12,000 years of history), the Old State Capitol and Kentucky Military History Museum. Open Wednesdays, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Thursday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Closed mid-December through early March except for groups of 10 or more who call ahead to schedule a visit at least 7 days in advance.
Completed in 1910 in the architectural Beaux Arts design, the Kentucky State Capitol grounds contain a colorful flowering 34 foot flowering clock. The building is open for guided tours Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m., with self-guided tours on weekends.
This national historic landmark was Kentucky's seat of government from 1831 through 1910. The Greek Revival structure includes a unique, self-supporting staircase held together by precision and pressure. Tours begin at Kentucky Historical Society. Admission includes entrance to the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History and the Kentucky Military History Museum.
Revisit the commonwealth's military history in this fortress-like building that overlooks downtown Frankfort. Built in 1850, the Old State Arsenal is now home to the Kentucky Military History Museum and is jointly operated by the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Department for Military Affairs. Hours are seasonal and subject to change. All Kentucky Military History Museum tours begin at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History.
The official Governor's residence since 1914, the Beaux Arts mansion, constructed of native limestone, was modeled after the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette's summer villa. Tour includes the state dining room, ballroom, reception room and formal salon. Several valuable pieces of art and antique furniture are featured on the tour. Tours are offered Tuesday and Thursday 9–11 a.m. or by appointment. There is also a monthly Patron of the Arts Tour, given by a different guest tour guide each month with expertise in the fields of history, fine arts, furniture, and/or architecture. Please contact the Governor’s Mansion for more information and to reserve your spot.
The grave site of Daniel and Rebecca Boone which overlooks beautiful views of the city of Frankfort. Other notables are artist Paul Sawyier, Joel T. Hart, Theodore O’Hara, Vice President Richard M. Johnson, and seventeen Kentucky Governors. Hours dawn to dusk.
This national historic landmark features two historic homes built by Kentucky’s first senator, John Brown, and three acres of formal and informal gardens. Liberty Hall is a Georgian-style mansion built in 1796 and the Orlando Brown House is a Greek-Revival home built in 1835. Both are decorated with the Brown family furnishings, family portraits, and Paul Sawyier watercolors. Regular programs present demonstrations of life in early Kentucky including hearthside cooking, music and crafts; activities for children; lectures and seminars; special exhibits; and special events. Tours of Liberty Hall are offered throughout the day and leave from the Orlando Brown House, the gardens are open daily with free admission. The site is closed to the public for general tours during the winter months, mid-December through mid-March. Tour Prices are $6 for adults (18+), $3 for youth (age 5-18) and free for children (under age 5).
The park features two Civil War forts, picnic pavilion, scenic downtown Frankfort overlook and hiking trails and is open to vehicular traffic year-round from dawn to dusk. The Sullivan House interpretive center is open 11 a.m.–5 p.m. with free tours Monday through Saturday, Memorial Day–October 31.