This was a cold raw day, and my objective was to take the trolley tour of the town. When we got there at 1:20, the trolley was sitting there with blinking lights and there was a piece of paper sticking out of the door that said next tour 1:30. The driver never came. We wandered around , but the old courthouse which was now the visitor's center in the center of the square was locked up tight. Someone let me and another couple in. She suggested that the driver might be watching the UK vs Miami basketball game but when I inquired there, no one would admit to seeing him. Bob did not want to take a carriage tour - it was too cold. So I got my history from the markers around town.
The text of two of the signs are in the intro. The Bardstown sign (photo 4) says:
William Bard laid off the town
and granted two acres for erection
of courthouse and other public
buildings in the name of his
brother David who remained in
Pennsylvania. The first courthouse,
of hewn logs, was built 1785; by
then the town was called Baird's
Town, a variation of family name.
It was designated Bardstown when
incorporated in 1788
We drove out to My Old Kentucky Home State Park. This was Federal Hill, the home of John Rowan who was a cousin of Stephen Fosters and where he was supposed to be staying when he wrote "My Old Kentucky Home". The house was being renovated but the tours were going on anyway. No pictures inside of course, and they wouldn't even let you take a picture of the painting in the visitor's center. So I wandered around outside and took some pictures, and then we went back to the condo.
Federal Hill is a Georgian style mansion that originally had 13 rooms. The number 13 is repeated throughout the house, supposedly to honor the 13 colonies at the time of America’s independence from Great Britain. The front of the home has 13 windows, and there are 13 steps to each floor of the house. Completed in 1796, the rear wing of the house contains a kitchen, two bedrooms, and a smokehouse. The first floor has a dining room, parlor, and library. The second floor has bedrooms, and the third floor contained the nursery. The house is built of brick and has six large rooms that are 22 feet square. Ceilings are 13-1/2 feet high. The floors are made of yellow poplar and the walls are 13 inches thick.
Tours are given from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Eastern Time, June through August; and 9:00 AM - 4:45 PM March to May and September to November. Open Wednesday to Sunday during the winter period of January 2 to February 28 and daily from March 1 - December 30.
Kentucky is famous for bourbon whisky and Maker's Mark has a great tour of thier facility that explains the process from begining to end. Maybe you'll want to hand dip and seal your personal bottle of Maker's Mark whiskey in their signature red wax. The tours are free, but the whiskey is not.
Return to My Old Kentucky Home Sate Park in the evening and go to the outdoor theater. Great, familiar music to people from the USA. Foster is the focus of the outdoor summer show Stephen Foster -- The Musical, which is staged June-August at the park. Hear Foster's immortal favorites like "Camptown Races," "Oh, Susanna," "Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair" and many others.
St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral
First catholic cathedral west of the Allegheny Mountains. A National landmark listed by the U.S. Library of Congress. This historic edifice contains fine paintings, gifts of Francis 1, King of the Two Sicilies, and Pope Leo XII. Erected 1816-1819. Open year round. Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm; Sat, 9am - 3pm; Sun, 1pm - 5pm. Donations requested. No restrooms. HA.
310 W Stephen Foster Ave., Bardstown, KY 40004, 502-348-3126
My Old Kentucky Home State Park
Federal Hill was the inspiration for Stephen Foster's ballad 'My Old Kentucky Home.' Today this Bardstown mansion is as endearing to visitors as it was in 1852 when Foster was inspired to write the song. Step into the days of the antebellum South as costumed guides escort you through the stately Mansion. My Old Kentucky Home honors the symbol of the state song. Open daily Sept - May, 9am - 4:45pm; June - Aug, 8:30am - 6:15pm; Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year's Eve & Day. Handicapped accessible-first floor only. Contact: Alice Heaton.
501 E. Stephen Foster Ave., P.O. Box 323, Bardstown, KY 40004, (502) 348-3502 or 1-800-323-7803
My Old Kentucky Dinner Train
Exquisite 1940's dining cars carry passengers through 35 miles of Kentucky countryside. Fine dining in exquisite surroundings. Open year-round. Lunch on Saturdays only. Dinner Tuesday-Saturday on a demanded basis. Reservations required. Handicapped individuals: 5 steps.
602 N. 3rd St., Bardstown, KY 40004, (502) 348-7300
The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History
A 50-year collection of rare whiskey artifacts dating from pre-colonial days to post-Prohibition days. The museum features rare antique bottles, a moonshine still, advertising art, novelty whiskey containers, and Abraham Lincoln's liquor license. A definite stop for bourbon enthusiasts.
114 North Fifth Street
Bardstown, Kentucky 40004
May 1 - Oct. 31
Monday - Saturday
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Nov. 1 - Apr. 30
Tuesday - Saturday
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Even if you don't like bourbon you'll find this an interesting place.
The museum has bottles of bourbon from all over the place. It also describes how it is made.
This is the home Stephen Foster sang about when he wrote the Kentucky State Song: My Old Kentucky Home.
The home was owned by Stephen Foster's cousin - Mrs. Rowen at the time.
Tour the interior of the mansion. This typical room, in the Victorian style, includes an antique rosewood half tester bed.