Historical marker #2204 in Frankfort identifies the boyhood home of Paul Sawyier, one of the most recognized and popular artists in Kentucky.
Sawyier's popularity is due in large part to his work being so closely identifiable with particular regions, cities, and landmarks in Kentucky, including the Kentucky River, Frankfort, High Bridge, and Camp Nelson. Despite his local renown, Sawyier's work is not widely known outside of the Bluegrass State.
Sawyier was born on March 23, 1865, in Madison County, Ohio. He moved with his family to Broadway Street in Frankfort in 1869. Sawyier's parents were both artistic; his mother was an accomplished pianist and his father had dreamed of becoming a painter. Paul, however, was instead encouraged to pursue medicine. His sister, Lillian, also painted and had a studio in Woodstock, New York, at the time of Paul’s death.
Most of Sawyier's paintings between 1890 and 1908 were of the Frankfort area. In his book "The Art of Paul Sawyier," art historian Arthur F. Jones describes the importance of nostalgia as being a major theme in Sawyier's work. According to Jones, not only did Sawyier like to paint historical landmarks, "his creek and river scenes tended to evoke nostalgic dreams of childhood days spent in leisure." Sawyier loved being outdoors and was an avid fisherman who spent much time on Elkhorn creek, located east of Frankfort.
The site of Sawyier's boyhood home is now the location of the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, which is the headquarters of the Kentucky Historical Society. Today, the Kentucky Historical Society has the world's largest collection of Paul Sawyier paintings.