Historical Marker #208 commemorates the town of Pewee Valley. Originally given as a land grant of 4,000 acres to Ora Norborn Beall in 1784, the area that came to be known as Pewee Valley was formerly known as “Smith’s Station.”
Michael and Rosanna Yager Smith came with their family to Kentucky in 1807. One of their sons, Henry, was a civic leader who conducted land surveys for the county. In 1835 Henry was commissioned “to survey the Rollington to Floydsburg Road. When the county was divided into road districts in 1836, Henry was commissioned to survey District 52, which is now part of the Town of Pewee Valley.” The road Henry surveyed followed the path now taken by Central Ave. Henry began buying and selling surrounding acreage.
The Pewee Valley area began to grow as a community around 1849 when service trains began to operate between La Grange and Louisville. Grand residences and summer homes began to spring up. Adding to the town’s growth, a commuter train began providing service between Louisville and La Grange in 1854. This made Henry Smith’s properties even more valuable, and in 1856 he sold one acre of land for a depot to the Louisville & Frankfort Railroad. The Depot was named Smith’s Station and the area became known for a time as Smith’s Depot. After the Civil War, Henry planned the town of Pewee Valley, a town of quiet avenues, shaded by majestic trees. The permanent name change to Pewee Valley occurred by the late 1860s.
Pewee Valley became famous as the setting for Annie Fellows Johnston’s “Little Colonel” series of books. She based her book characters on real inhabitants of Pewee Valley during the turn of the century. The movie, The Little Colonel, was based on Johnston’s novel and turned into a movie in 1934 staring Shirley Temple. A notable contemporary of Johnston was Kate Matthews. Matthews was an accomplished photographer and one of the first females in this field. She often rode her pony cart around town, stopping to photograph the romantic lifestyle she saw around her. The quaint town is still full of the grand homes that have made it a bedroom community of Louisville.
Other notable places of interest in Pewee Valley include the Kentucky Confederate Home, the Pewee Valley Cemetery, and the Little Colonel Playhouse. Many homes and business buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.