Historical Marker #3 in Lexington commemorates the Morgan House. This house, built by businessman John Wesley Hunt in 1814, has been the home of Hunt’s daughter and her husband Henrietta and Calvin Morgan and their son John Hunt Morgan, and was later the residence of Dr. Thomas Hunt Morgan.
Entrepreneur John Wesley Hunt moved from Richmond, Virginia, to Lexington, Kentucky in 1795, where he opened a general store and entered into a business career that would make him one of the wealthiest men west of the Appalachian Mountains in the early-nineteenth century.
In Lexington, Hunt branched into other lucrative ventures including thoroughbred horse breeding, hemp manufacturing, banking, and insurance. Hunt used some of his wealth to construct a federal-style home at the corner of Mill and Second Streets, which was completed in 1814. The residence eventually became the home of Hunt’s daughter Henrietta and her husband Calvin Morgan. The Morgan’s raised a large family in the home, including John Hunt Morgan, who would become famous during the Civil War as the “Thunderbolt of the Confederacy.”
Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry specialized in raids behind Union lines—often into his native Kentucky—in attempt to disrupt the supply and communication lines of the occupying Union troops. Morgan and a number of his men were captured in Ohio during an extensive raid in the summer of 1863. After confinement in the Ohio state penitentiary, Morgan escaped and made his way to Richmond, Virginia, where he received a hero’s welcome. The following year Morgan was surprised and killed while attempting to make an escape in Greenville, Tennessee.
Another famous resident of the Hunt Morgan house was John Hunt Morgan’s nephew, Thomas Hunt Morgan. After receiving an education at what became the University of Kentucky and Johns Hopkins University, Thomas Hunt Morgan became a leader in the field of genetics and in 1933 became the first non-physician to win the Nobel Prize.
Saved from demotion in 1955, today, the Hunt Morgan House still graciously sits next to historic Gratz Park and serves as a house museum. It is furnished with many Hunt and Morgan pieces as well as other period collections and provides visitors with the feel of what life was like for one of Lexington’s elite families. In addition, one room exhibits the Alexander T. Hunt Civil War Museum, a collection of artifacts and images associated with the Morgan family’s Confederate service.