Explore Frankfort, Kentucky

Tour curated by: The ExploreKYHistory Team

Frankfort, the Capitol of Kentucky, is a picturesque town set on the banks of the Kentucky River. It was home to the artist, Paul Sawyier, who painted many scenes of Frankfort and the surrounding countryside.

Frankfort has many historic buildings and sites, as well as being home to the Kentucky Historical Society. We hope you will enjoy exploring the rich history of Frankfort.

Locations for Tour

Historical Marker #1205 in Frankfort commemorates the home of John B. Bibb, a War of 1812 officer who is also credited for developing the Bibb variety of lettuce. Born in Virginia, Bibb's family moved to Kentucky, where he became a lawyer. …

Historical Marker #1896 in Franklin County commemorates Governor George Madison, an 1812 veteran who only held office for a few weeks. Born in Virginia in 1763, George was second cousin to U.S. President James Madison. While he had some militia…

Historical Marker #1420 in Frankfort honors Walter Allerton Wentworth, who was known as the father of the Kentucky Historical Highway Marker Program. A native of New Hampshire, Wentworth was a graduate of Iowa State University and received his…

Historical Marker #1955 commemorates Frankfort's Union Station and an early railroad tunnel built near downtown. In 1820, Lexington was still the largest town in the commonwealth. The coming of the steamboat, followed by an economic depression…

Historical Marker #1524 in Frankfort notes the location of the Old State Capitol, which served as the state’s center of government from 1830 to 1910. Due to the generous donation of land and building materials by the town's citizens,…

Historical Marker #1490 in Frankfort notes the location of the State Arsenal building, which now serves as the Kentucky Military History Museum. In 1836, a devastating fire and explosion that heavily damaged the state arsenal necessitated the…

Historical Marker #1208 in Frankfort notes the location of the Old Governor's Mansion, the former residence of the state's chief executive. When Kentucky became the nation's fifteenth state in 1792, Frankfort was selected as the…

Historical Marker #522 commemorates the Confederate occupation of Frankfort in September 1862. That summer, multiple Confederate armies invaded Kentucky in order to pull Union troops away from the vital railroad junction of Chattanooga, Tennessee. …

Historical Marker #1372 in Frankfort notes the Revolutionary War service of the state's early governors. Although only one formal engagement occurred in what would become Kentucky (the Battle of Blue Licks, August 19, 1782), the Revolutionary…

Historical Marker #113 commemorates the gravesite of Daniel Boone, who was reinterred in the Frankfort Cemetery in 1845. Kentucky artist Paul Sawyier often worked in the Frankfort Cemetery where one of his subjects was the memorial monument to…

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…

Historical Marker #1164 in Frankfort recognizes the former site of the Kentucky River Mills, which was the last hemp factory to operate in Kentucky (1878 -1952). Kentucky artist Paul Sawyier briefly worked as a salesman for the mill, beginning in…

Historical Marker #2293 is located at the Frankfort public library, which is named in honor of noted Kentucky artist Paul Sawyier. The building that initially housed the library was the former United States courthouse and post office. The current…

Historical Marker #2406 commemorates Garden Hall, an elegant Georgian mansion on Wapping Street in Frankfort. The home was built by Graham Vreeland, who was the founder, editor and publisher of the "Frankfort State Journal." In October…

Historical Marker #2061 in Frankfort notes the location of barracks built by the federal government to house soldiers serving in Reconstruction era Kentucky. The immediate post-Civil War period in Kentucky has often been referred to by historians as…

Historical Marker #103 in Franklin County notes the location of Leestown, an early pioneer Kentucky River village just north of Frankfort. This site eventually became the location of a distillery complex. Two early Kentucky surveyors, brothers…

Historical Marker #2226 in Frankfort commemorates the only monument in the state that honors the nearly 25,000 African American Kentuckians who served in the United States Colored Troops during the American Civil War. Although Kentucky remained…

Historical Marker #1653 interprets Liberty Hall, a house museum in Kentucky's capital. Located in downtown Frankfort on the banks of the Kentucky River, Liberty Hall Historic Site was the home of the Brown family, one of Kentucky's most…

Historical Marker #2416 in Frankfort commemorates the June 1864 Confederate attacks on Frankfort by elements of John Hunt Morgan's cavalry. In the fall of 1862, Frankfort had been captured by the Confederates—the only Union state capital to…

Historical Marker #504 in Frankfort notes the location where four Confederate men were executed in 1864, as an act of retaliation for the murder of a local Unionist by guerrillas. In the border state of Kentucky, allegiances were sometimes fluid and…

Historical Marker #1799 notes the location of Amos Kendall's home when he lived in Frankfort. Kendall was a noted Frankfort newspaper editor who became postmaster general in Andrew Jackson's administration. Kendall was born in…

Historical Marker #1999 near Frankfort notes where Buena Vista, the summer home of the Robert Todd family, once stood. Among others, the first families of Kentucky include the Clays, the Breckinridges, the Logans, and the Todds. Brothers John,…

Historical Marker #1495 in Frankfort commemorates St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the earliest African American congregations in Frankfort. The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church was founded in Philadelphia by Richard…

Historical Marker # 2236 in Frankfort notes the location of philanthropist Emily Harvie Thomas Tubman's summer home. Emily Harvie Thomas Tubman lived an extraordinary life for a nineteenth century woman. Born in 1794 in Hanover County,…

Historical Marker #1154 in Frankfort notes the home of Kentucky statesman John Jordan Crittenden. John J. Crittenden was one of Kentucky's most accomplished and well respected politicians of the nineteenth century. His reputation came, in part,…

Historical Marker #2167 in Frankfort notes the trailblazing political career of Emma Guy Cromwell, Kentucky's first female secretary of state. In an era when politics was viewed as a forum unfit for women, a few brave souls paved the way for…

Historical Marker #1774 in Frankfort notes how that city became the seat of Kentucky's government. Frankfort's history pre-dates its role as the state's capital. Located in an "S" curve of the Kentucky River, the land that…

Historical Marker #1796 in Frankfort notes the location of the Garrard-Crittenden House, the former home of relatives of governors John J. Crittenden and James Garrard. The home is also sometimes called the Hoge House, named after the home's…

Historical Marker #1444 in Frankfort notes the location of Glen Willis, the former residence of Willis Atwell Lee and Humphrey Marshall. Leestown, just about a mile north of present-day Frankfort, was the first community established in Franklin…

Historical Marker #1752 in Frankfort notes the 1886 founding of this traditionally African American institution of higher learning. Before 1887, African American students had little choice in their college education if they wanted to stay in…

Historical Marker #69 in Frankfort remembers the Lexington and Ohio Railroad, which was the first railroad in Kentucky. The Lexington and Ohio (L&O) Railroad received a charter from the Kentucky legislature in 1830. The intent of those…

Historical Marker #1779 notes the location of the Kentucky state capitol building in south Frankfort. The new building replaced the previous one on Broadway, which had been used since 1830. Kentucky's official capitol buildings have always been…

Historical Marker #1743 in Frankfort commemorates the Vest-Lindsey House, which was the home of notable nineteenth century personalities George Graham Vest, Thomas Noble Lindsey, and Daniel W. Lindsey. Much like the John J. Crittenden House only a…

Historical Marker #2428 commemorates the history of the O.F.C.-Stagg Distillery in Franklin County. Perhaps the most remarkable man to enter the whiskey industry during the post-Civil War years was Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. Born in…

Historical Marker #2031 commemorates Melodye Park, a former Frankfort destination. Frankfort's first public park, it was located on the west bank of the Kentucky River in South Frankfort. Louis Horwitz developed Melodye Park with his own…

Historical Marker #2025 commemorates the site of Winnie A. Scott Hospital, which was located at 228 East Second Street in the South Frankfort neighborhood. South Frankfort’s northeastern section has historically had a large African American…

Historical Marker #2057 commemorates Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Frankfort. The first Mass in Frankfort was celebrated by Father Stephen Theodore Badin in 1794. Father Badin, the first priest ordained in the United States, worked as a…

Historical Marker #2299 honors Captain Daniel Weisiger III (1763-1829), a farmer and merchant who was one of Frankfort's forefathers. Born in Virginia, Daniel served with General George Roger Clark fighting Native Americans before settling in…

Historical Marker #2229 in Frankfort commemorates Kentucky's Executive Mansion, the state’s second governor's residence. In 1911, Governor Augustus E. Wilson recommended that a new governor's mansion be built near the new capitol…