Duncan Tavern

Historical Marker #93 in Paris describes the significance of Major Joseph Duncan's house and tavern.

On the west side of the public square in Paris, Kentucky, stands Duncan Tavern, current Headquarters of the Kentucky Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (KSDAR).

Major Joseph Duncan used local materials to erect his spectacular home. The old building contains cherry and yellow poplar woodwork, blue ash floors, and limestone fireplaces and chimneys to match the outside walls and foundations. It features hickory laths under the horse hair or pig hair plaster, iron Carpenter locks, and hand blown, bluish glass windowpanes.

In 1795, three years after Kentucky had achieved statehood, Major Duncan petitioned and received permission from the Bourbon County court to convert his home into an inn. The major's inn was a convenient place to stay overnight for those people traveling a long, slow distance to reach lawyers and conduct business. Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, Michael Stoner, Peter Houston and Isaac Ruddell were among the visitors at "The Goddess of Liberty," the name of the inn at that time.

Duncan Tavern flourished though the years and became a noted boarding house in the late 1800s and early 1900s. For thirty years, it was called the Burr House under the management of the Burr family. By the Great Depression, the tavern had become a tenement house, falling into such disrepair that in 1940 the city of Paris condemned it and planned to raze it.

Mrs. William B. Ardery (Miss Julia), a lady of vision, resourcefulness and strength, along with the support of the Jemima Johnson Chapter KSDAR went into organized action. They convinced the Paris and Bourbon County officials to donate money for the KSDAR to take ownership on June 15, 1940. Work started on August 19, 1940, with Miss Julia serving as chairman of restoration for seven years. On March 14, 1941, the KSDAR dedicated the building, although not quite completed. Duncan Tavern is now a histrionic museum and venue for parties and meetings. It also houses the John Fox, Jr., Genealogical Library on the ground floor.

Established in 1949, the Fox Library is focused on helping patrons document their Revolutionary War ancestors' service and serves as a regional library with historical resources unique to Bourbon and other Kentucky counties. The library has a wealth of historical and genealogical information, especially on Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. The library is visited annually by people from all across the United States and is also accessible online and by mail.