Johnston's Inn

Historical Marker #1283 in Bourbon County marks Johnston's Inn, which was illustrated on John Filson's 1784 map of Kentucky.

Johston's Inn is recognized as the oldest house in Bourbon County. It is located on John Filson's famous 1784 'Kentucee' map on the original road from Limestone (now Maysville) to Lexington near the middle fork of Coopers Run.

The Johnston's Inn land was first owned by Captain Thomas McClanahan and deeded in a French and Indian War land grant. His daughter Peggy married Captain Robert Johnston in 1769. The couple ran the inn together, which was located at Johnston's Cross Roads. In 1799, the inn was passed on to their son, Captain William Johnston. A visitor, Fortescue Cummings/Cummins, wrote in his "Western Traveler" in 1806 that he had seen as many as fifty covered wagons at the inn's wagon-yard at one time.

In 1832, Joseph Helm Clay purchased the property, and named it "Rosedale." Clay raised his family there, and it became known as Clay's Cross Roads. Three Clay daughters died in the 1854 cholera epidemic and were buried in the graveyard, just south of the house. For many years to the present time, there are stories about the unsettled spirits of these three girls, disturbing the peace of the residents. After their illness and deaths the house was white washed or painted white, and it stayed that way until 1982 when it was stripped and restored to the original brick.

Johnston's Inn remained in the Clay family until 1956, when it received some much needed restoration attention. In 1982 it was sold again and benefitted from more restoration work so that today it is in excellent condition. After 231 years in existence it is difficult to discern what portion may have been altered and when.

Inside there is a bar at the entrance hall with several wall cabinets. To the left is the large dining room and the ball room, which has an enormous fireplace at the north end. The interior woodwork is walnut; the door knobs are brass; the floor boards are blue ash; and the old kitchen, later attached, is still in use with its original fireplace for cooking and warming.

Johnston's Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.