Frankfort, Kentucky located in the inner Bluegrass Region. It is the county seat to Franklin County and is also the capital city of Kentucky’s Commonwealth. Frankfort t is well-loved for its horses, bourbon, wine and gorgeous scenery. The southern hospitality of the town is second to none.
Nestled between Lexington and Louisville right alongside the Kentucky River, the river city has around 25,500 residents that call it home. It is filled with history as well as eclectic shops and all the modern conveniences of an upwardly mobile town.
Back in the 1780’s, the town was graced its name from a historic event that took place there. A group of early European-American pioneers who hailed from Bryan Station were attacked by American Indians while they were busy making salt at a fort near the Kentucky River. A pioneer named Stephen Frank was killed during the attack and the crossing was called “Frank’s Ford” thereafter.
In 1786, the name was changed to Frankfort. James Wilson purchased the land in 1786 which was two hundred and sixty acres at that time. The parcel became the downtown area of Frankfort.
Wilson and others rallied for the town to become the State Capital and eventually, it was deemed as such when Kentucky became the fifteenth state admitted into the Union. The Andrew Holmes’ log house was offered up as the capital building and it was accepted.
The first US post office in Frankfort came about in 1794. It suffered a fire in 1836. It was rebuilt however.
A Virginia statesman and lawyer named John Brown built Liberty Hall in 1796. It was his home at that time. He ended up introducing the bill that ultimately ended up in the granting of Kentucky’s statehood. He was voted into the state legislature following that.
Also in 1796, funds were approved to accommodate the governor and his family. The Old Governor’s Mansion construction began. It is still standing today and is the oldest official residence of an executive that is in existence today. The capital was in active service from 1830 up until 1910.
The American Civil War came to Frankfort. The Union Army built their fortifications which were on Fort Hill. The forts overlooked Frankfort proper. The Confederate Army occupied the town as well for a short time. It was the only time any Confederate forces had control of a Union capitol during the war.
Times turned sad for Frankfort in 1900. On February 3, the Governor-elect, William Goebel, was walking to the capitol to his inauguration when he was assassinated. To make matters even worse, Caleb Powers, the former Secretary of State, was found guilty for the conspiracy behind the murder.
The townspeople pulled together though. It grew tremendously in the late 1960’s. What had been the Kentucky State Penitentiary was turned into the State Office Building in 1967. Remainders of the old stone from the prison are still in use on the walls surrounding the building which are a popular attraction of the town.
Also taking place in the 60’s was the establishment of The Capitol Plaza. It is part of the Capitol Plaza Office Tower which was the tallest high rise building in the entire city. The tower was demolished in 2018, however. The city plans to replace it though.
Whiskey, mainly bourbon, is quite the rave in Frankfort. The city has a long history where the alcohol is concerned which has made quite a name for it, reputation-wise. It is the home of several major distilleries like Buffalo Trace and Kentucky Bourbon.
Buffalo Trace is the World’s Most Award Winning Distillery. It has been in existence for over two hundred years. Tourist come from all over the world to see the facility. Tours begin with a video entailing the history of the distillery. Then they are given a guided walk through so they can see the rolling barrels of bourbon and smell the alluring aroma as well. From the packaging to the warehouses, all the phases can be seen firsthand. The tours are free and include a taste test of the award-winning whiskey.
Frankfort is located on the Kentucky River and is actually bisected by it which accounts for the “s-turn” in town. The river tends to widen at a point which is the spot where four town districts are formed – downtown, east, west and south.
The weather in Frankfort can get hot and sticky during the summer. In the winter it is typically cool with a bit of snow. Spring brings plenty of rain, as a rule.
There are amply spaces for outdoor enjoyment in the area. Thanks to a volunteer group called “Walk/Bike Frankfort”, new improvements are in gear to provide pedestrians and cyclists great places to walk and ride and new safety measures as well.
Josephine Sculpture Park is a community arts education effort where individuals can experience their creative sides. “Where art meets earth” is the motto of the organization. While walking through the meadows of the park, visitors can interact with around fifty works of art. Picnic areas, wildlife habitat, exhibits and native plants are among the many things to be enjoyed on location at the two mile park. There are events and programs offered as well.
Kentucky State University is located in Frankfort. It was established in 1886. When it was first founded, it was the State Normal School for Colored Persons. Through the implementing of small class rooms and dedicated staff, the school is one of the best in the nation. Alumni includes jazz artist Tadric Jermaine and many others.
Volunteering is one of the things that makes the town so loveable. The citizens have very giving hearts. The Folkbike Re-Cyclery is an organization that takes old bikes and transforms them into new. They donate them to members of the community who cannot afford a bike.
The spirit of Frankfort is contagious. From embracing the rich history of the past to affording opportunities to move forward, the town is a wonderful place to visit and to live in.