Pewee Valley Museum
Opened in 2014 in a former fire station beside Pewee Valley’s historic Town Hall, the Pewee Valley Museum celebrates the sixth class city’s unique heritage. Whimsically named by Louisville educator Noble Butler in the 1850s when the tiny settlement of artists and educators first became a stopping point on the Louisville & Frankfort Railroad, Pewee Valley had grown into a popular resort town by the turn of the 20th century. It was known as one of the most beautiful towns in Kentucky, and many of Louisville’s elite families summered here. Adding to the town’s reputation was the 1895 debut of “The Little Colonel,” by children’s author Annie Fellows Johnston. The story was loosely based on real people and places in Pewee Valley Johnston had met while visiting the summer before. That thin little volume eventually led to the publication of 11 more “Little Colonel” books, a children’s diary, paper dolls, card games, puzzles, postcards and the 1935 Fox Studio debut of “The Little Colonel” movie starring Shirley Temple and Lloyd Barrymore. The museum’s collection includes the nearly-complete works of Annie Fellows Johnston, Shirley Temple dolls and other memorabilia from “The Little Colonel” movie, the real Little Colonel’s baby buggy, and official Little Colonel postcards and toys. Pewee Valley was also home to several unique institutions, including the Kentucky College for Young Ladies, the Kentucky Confederate Home (a retirement facility for Confederate veterans) and the Jennie Casseday Rest Cottage for Working Women. Their stories are told through photo displays at the museum. Also on display are relics of the town’s relationship with the railroad, including a luggage car, telegraph equipment and 1956 mail bag. Other reminders of the role the railroads played in the town’s founding are the wooden caboose and restored 19th century mail crane on display across the street from the museum. The gallery at Town Hall includes works by local artists and photographers from different periods of the city’s history.
The museum is open for self-guided tours Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. QR codes on many photos allow visitors to access the Pewee Valley Historical Society’s website for in-depth information. Group tours can be accommodated by special arrangement.