Explore Fayette County, Kentucky

Located in central Kentucky, Fayette County was established in 1780. Along with Lincoln and Jefferson counties, Fayette was one of the first three counties created from Kentucky County, Virginia. Fayette County was named for General Marquis de Lafayette, a French officer who was one of General George Washington's most trusted advisors during the Revolutionary War. The county seat of Lexington also has roots in the American Revolution, as it honors the April 19, 1775, battle fought in Massachusetts.

Fayette County is bordered by Jessamine, Woodford, Scott, Bourbon, Clark, and Madison Counties. Early white settlers and surveyors came to the area beginning in 1774. McConnell's Station, which was erected in 1775, was one of the earliest on the Kentucky frontier. Soon other stations, such as Bryan's Station, sprang up in the area.

While Lexington developed into Kentucky's premier urban center before Louisville's rise, Fayette County farmland was some of the most prized in the state. Crops such as hemp and corn thrived in the county's fertile soil, and livestock such as cattle, and especially thoroughbred horses, came to be recognized for their extraordinary quality. Eighteenth and nineteenth century Fayette County farmers utilized the Kentucky River, which marked its southeastern border to get goods to distant markets. The twentieth century brought innovations such as the interstate highway system, which brought commercial enterprises to Fayette County and made the area a major crossroads for east-west and north-south travelers.

Fayette County's rich history that is explored here, and is found on the county's highway markers, includes people and places that have influenced the county's past. Here you can learn about Kentucky's premier statesman, Henry Clay, as well as famous race horses such as Lexington, Aristides, and Man O' War. Women who made significant impacts such as Madeline McDowell Breckinridge and Mary Todd Lincoln are also examined. There are stories about the county's educational efforts at Sayre Female Academy, Transylvania University, and the University of Kentucky. Here also are some people and places that are well known by most Kentuckians, like Adolph Rupp, John Hunt Morgan, Keeneland, and Bryan's Station, and some others that may sound familiar but whose stories are more obscure, like Civil War diarist Frances Peter, Robert J. Breckinridge, African American Cemetery Number Two, and Coldstream Farm.

We hope you will use this app to learn more about Fayette County's interesting and abundant history.

Rev. Robert J. Breckinridge

Historical Marker #2277 notes Lexington's First Presbyterian Church and one nineteenth century pastor, the Reverend Robert J. Breckinridge. During the Civil War, Kentucky Presbyterian minister Robert J. Breckinridge was an important advisor to…

Lexington Diarist Frances Peter

Historical Marker #1480 in Lexington notes the life of Dr. Robert Peter, whose daughter, Frances, was a unique chronicler of Civil War Lexington. Her diary, A Union Woman in Civil War Kentucky, was published by the University Press of Kentucky. A…

Mary Todd Lincoln House

Historical Marker #2261 in Fayette County recognizes the Mary Todd Lincoln House, which is now a museum. Mary Ann Todd was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on December 13, 1818. She was the granddaughter of Levi Todd, one of the founders of Lexington,…

Dr. Samuel Brown

Historical Marker #1595 in Fayette County recognizes Dr. Samuel Brown, a Lexington chemistry professor and physician who aided America's war effort during the War of 1812. A Virginia native, Brown was exceptionally well-educated for his time,…

Mary Todd Lincoln

Historical Marker #12 in Fayette County identifies the birthplace of Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. Mary Ann Todd was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on December 13, 1818. She was the granddaughter of Levi Todd,…

Ashland: The Henry Clay Estate

Historical Marker #2235 identifies the home of Henry Clay, one of the most influential U.S. politicians of the nineteenth century. After Clay's death in 1852, his heirs sold Ashland land to his son, James Brown Clay, who built the current…

Miller Hall 1898

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 1994, Historical Marker #1953 commemorates Miller Hall. Built in 1898 and originally named Science Hall, it was one of the first classroom buildings on the campus. For many years it housed the…

WBKY-WUKY

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 1995, Historical Marker #1966 commemorates radio stations WBKY and WUKY. UK began radio broadcasting in 1929 in cooperation with WHAS in Louisville. Each weekday, live music and educational…

Gillis Building 1889

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 1996, Historical Marker #2012 commemorates the Gillis Building. This building was erected in 1889 as UK's first Agricultural Experiment Station but was destroyed in a fire in 1891. The current…

Sarah Blanding

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 1997, Historical Marker #2011 honors Sarah Blanding (1898-1985). She was born on a farm in Kentucky in 1898. After graduating from the New Haven Normal School of Gymnastics in 1919, she was hired as…

Scovell Hall

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 1998, Historical Marker #2009 commemorates Scovell Hall. The building was opened in 1905, with major additions in 1913 and 1937. Utilizing colonial architecture, it was the largest building on the…

Desegregation of UK

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 1999, Historical Marker #2022 commemorates the desegregation of UK. In 1948, Lyman T. Johnson filed suit for admission to the university. In March 1949, Federal Judge H. Church Ford ruled in…

Maxwell Place

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 2000, Historical Marker #2069 commemorates Maxwell Place. It was built in 1870-72 for Judge James H. Mulligan as a wedding gift from his father, Dennis Mulligan, who was an active and influential…

Barker Hall and Buell Armory

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 2001, Historical Marker #2070 commemorates Barker Hall and Buell Armory. Originally known as Alumni Hall, it was dedicated in 1901. The original building was three stories with a gymnasium and a…

Memorial Hall

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 2002, Historical Marker #2089 commemorates Memorial Hall. Completed in 1929 as a memorial to Kentuckians who died in World War I, the building was financed by statewide contributions. The interior…

Patterson Hall

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 2003, Historical Marker #2106 commemorates Patterson Hall. When women finally obtained campus housing in 1904, twenty-four years after the first woman enrolled at UK, this hall was opened. It was…

Main Building

Given to the university by the class of 2004, Historical Marker #2138 commemorates the Main Building. It opened in 1882 and was known as the Main or College Building. It is the only surviving building out of four original structures located here when…

Kentucky Kernel

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 2005, historical marker #2169 commemorates the "Kentucky Kernel." Preceded by several earlier student newspapers, the first Kentucky Kernel was published on September 16, 1915. By 1923, it…

Thomas D. Clark, 1903-2005

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 2006, Historical Marker #2232 honors historian Thomas D. Clark. Born on July 14, 1903, in Louisville, Mississippi, he graduated from the University of Mississippi with an A. B. in 1928. He went on…

What's In a Name?

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 2008, historical marker #2289 commemorates how the University of Kentucky got its name. In 1865, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky (A&M) was established as part of the private…

Margaret I. King Library

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 2009, Historical Marker #2315 commemorates the Margaret I. King Library. Margaret Isadora King was born in Lexington on September 1, 1879. She graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1898 and…

Stoll Field

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 2007, Historical Marker #2262 commemorates Stoll Field. The field was the site of the first intercollegiate game ever played south of the Mason-Dixon Line on April 9, 1880. Kentucky University (now…

Thomas Hunt Morgan

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 2010, Historical Marker #2342 honors Thomas Hunt Morgan. Born in Lexington on September 25, 1866, he was the eldest child of Charlton Hunt Morgan and a nephew of Confederate cavalryman John Hunt…

Aristides

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 2011, Historical Marker #2381 honors Aristides, the winner of the first Kentucky Derby. In May 1875, an estimated 10,000 racing fans watched the first running of the Kentucky Derby in Louisville.…

Adolph F. Rupp (1901-1977)

Historical Marker #1826 , which was erected in front of Memorial Coliseum in 1988, before the Senior Challenge Historical Marker Project began, honors Adolph Frederick Rupp. He was born to Mennonite German parents in Halstead, Kansas, in 1901 and was…

Cheapside Slave Auction Block

Historical Marker #2122 remembers Lexington’s Cheapside slave auction block and the thousands of enslaved Kentuckians sold here. For decades before the Civil War, Lexington was the center of the slave trade in Kentucky. Located in the heart of the…

Ashland

Historical Marker #1 in Lexington notes the location of "Ashland," the home and estate of Kentucky statesman Henry Clay. Ashland was Clay’s pride and joy. At this grand estate the "Great Compromiser" entertained guests, raised…

John Hunt Morgan

Historical Marker #1809 in Lexington notes the military career of Gen. John Hunt Morgan. Years before Morgan became known as the "Thunderbolt of the Confederacy," he gained valuable military experience during the Mexican-American War. …

Class Competitions/ Tug of War

Given to the University of Kentucky by the Class of 2012, Historical Marker #2392 commemorates the Class Competitions and Tug of War that were held annually on UK's campus. In the 1900s, these competitions between the freshman and sophomore…

African American Cemetery #2

Historical Marker #2110 in Lexington notes the location of African American Cemetery #2, which was established in 1869. After the Civil War, Kentucky African Americans looked to make good on the social, political, and economic changes produced by…

Lexington Colored Fair Association

Historical Marker # 1961 notes the importance of the Lexington Colored Fair Association, which highlighted the achievements of African Americans to society in the years following emancipation. Most often relegated to second class status by…

Coldstream Farm

Historical Marker #166 in Fayette County notes the location of Coldstream Farm, which was originally part of Henry Price McGrath’s farm. McGrath was the owner of the famous race horse Aristides. Henry Price McGrath was born near Keene in…

First Race Course

Historical Marker #6 in Lexington notes the location of the first straight quarter-mile horse racing course in Kentucky, which was established years before statehood. Kentucky was the first state settled west of the Appalachian Mountains. Many of…

Lexington

Historical Marker #2285 in Lexington notes the famous thoroughbred named for that Kentucky city. Kentucky has long been associated with horse racing in the United States, and the city of Lexington and the farms surrounding it have produced some of…

Man-O-War

Historical Markers #1215 and #1635 in Lexington note the many accomplishments of Man-O-War, considered by many to be the greatest thoroughbred ever. In a state where horses have the tendency to become legends, no horse has drawn more historical…

Wing Commander

Historical Marker #1470 in Fayette County notes the many achievements of Wing Commander, a saddle horse who went undefeated in competition for seven years and won more than two hundred championships. When one thinks of Kentucky horses, thoroughbred…

Keeneland

Historical Marker # 2 in Fayette County remembers the 1825 visit the Marquis de Lafayette made to the estate of Major John Keen (the extra "e" was added later), who had served with the Frenchman in the Revolutionary War. Keeneland,…

Madeline McDowell Breckinridge

Historical Marker #1876 in Lexington recognizes the contributions of Madeline McDowell Breckinridge to the women's suffrage movement. The marker is located on the grounds of Ashland, the estate of Henry Clay. Madeline Breckinridge was the…

Sayre Female Institute

Historical Marker #2197 in Lexington commemorates the Sayre Female Institute which is now the Sayre School. The school was founded in 1854 by David Austin Sayre for the education of young women. Sayre believed that women deserved an "education…

Lexington Historic Distillery District

Historical Marker #2313 notes the legacy and location of Lexington's Historic Distillery District. Shortly after the end of the Civil War, the Headley and Farra Company established a distillery in Lexington on Old Frankfort Pike, now called…

Bryan's Station

Historical Marker #21 in Fayette County commemorates Bryan's Station, a frontier fort that came under a combined Native American, Tory, and Canadian Ranger attack in 1782. The settlements in what became Kentucky found themselves in an…

Old Morrison

Historical Marker #1406 in Fayette County commemorates Old Morrison, a National Historic Landmark located on the campus of Transylvania University. Morrison Hall was erected to replace the university's previous administration building, which…

U. S. Vice President

Historical Marker #741 in Lexington notes the political and military career of John Cabell Breckinridge, who at age thirty-six was the youngest vice president in U.S. history. John C. Breckinridge’s promising future started at an early age. He was…

Thomas Satterwhite Noble

Historical Marker #1780 in Fayette County remembers native Kentucky artist Thomas Satterwhite Noble. The study of history occasionally introduces us to individuals that defy convention. These people remind us of the importance of avoiding…

U.S. President, A Day

Historical Marker #1110 in Fayette County notes the strange happenstance that made Kentucky native David Rice Atchison the symbolic president of the United States for a day in 1849. David Rice Atchison was born in Fayette County in 1807. After…

Morgan House

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…

Matthew H. Jouett (1788-1827)

Historical Marker #1888 in Lexington remembers Kentucky portraitist Matthew Harris Jouett, who painted some of Kentucky’s most well known nineteenth century personalities. Matthew Harris Jouett was born in Mercer County in 1788 to Capt. John…

Maddoxtown

Historical Marker #2238 in Fayette County notes the origins of Maddoxtown, a rural freedman’s community that developed during Reconstruction. For its first seventy plus years slavery was the dominant labor system of Kentucky. And while the Civil…

Lexington Cemetery

Historical Marker #1550 in Lexington notes that city’s historic cemetery, which was dedicated in 1850. The mid-nineteenth century witnessed a rise in the construction of garden-style landscaped cemeteries. At that time people’s understanding of…

Fayette County Hemp

Historical Marker #1163 in Fayette County remembers the significance of hemp to the county’s nineteenth century economy. Early settlers to Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region found that hemp grew well in the area’s nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. In…

Boone's Station

Historical Marker #17 in Fayette County commemorates Boone’s Station, a community founded by frontiersman Daniel Boone. Settling the Kentucky frontier was a daunting task. The earliest of those hearty souls that voluntarily came across the…

Architects Shryock

Historical Marker #945 in Lexington notes the Shryock family of architects, whose Kentucky buildings have become iconic reminders of the nineteenth century. Carpenter Mathias Shryock moved to Kentucky from Frederick County, Maryland, in the…

Lexington's First Airport

Historical Marker #2440 in Fayette County commemorates Halley Field, Lexington’s first airport, located on Meadowthorpe Farm. Meadowthorpe was a well-known stock farm owned by Jacob Hostetter. A two-story Greek Revival house was built on the…

Glengary Field/Cool Meadow

Glengarry Field/Cool Meadow Historical Marker #2439 in Fayette County commemorates Glengarry Field/Cool Meadow, the second airport in Lexington. With the development of larger multi-engine aircrafts and the restrictions on runway lengths, Halley…

Vertner Woodson Tandy

Vertner Woodson Tandy was born in Lexington in 1885. He was the son of Henry A. Tandy, a respected African American mason whose firm contracted to do the brickwork for the Lexington Courthouse, among other prominent buildings. Vertner Tandy attended…