Old Stone Inn

Historical Marker #1889, located in Simpsonville, KY (Shelby County) notes the centuries of history underlying the Old Stone Inn restaurant.

The Old Stone Inn’s construction began in 1817, at the behest of wealthy Virginian Fleming P. Rogers. Rogers had bought 300 acres of land that year on Little Bullskin Creek for $1747.50 from another landowner, Samuel Mitchell. The construction was carried out by enslaved Black people, who mined and hauled stone from the quarry at the back of the property.

When sufficient rooms were completed, the building opened as a tavern. Owing to its prominent placement on the Louisville-Frankfort-Lexington turnpike, many visitors from the East easily encountered it.

Rogers himself never lived on the property, and he sold the incomplete building to Isaac Greathouse in 1833. Greathouse, too, sold the house before it was finished, to Philip Johnson, who oversaw the project’s completion and sold the finished property to Lindsey W. George in 1835, at a price of $5,627.12.

George (a distant predecessor of future president Harry Truman) was the first to move into the establishment, bringing a temporary halt to its service as a tavern. The completed house then had eleven rooms, including four bedrooms, multiple dining rooms, and a reception hall. According to family legend, its walls also sport several bullet holes from a Civil War skirmish that took place nearby.

The house remained in the hands of Lindsey W. George and his son, Captain Richard George, until 1875, whereupon it once again changed ownership several times, until settling into the possession of the Shannon family in 1922. The Shannons reestablished the building’s original purpose as a dining establishment, opening Ye Old Stone Inn as a tearoom. They owned and operated the business until they sold it to James Tinley in 1924. Tinley also owned the nearby Cross Keys Tavern, another historical building that had served guests since the first years of the 19th Century, and which burned down in 1934. Tinley shortened the name to Old Stone Inn, and expanded its menu to that of a full-fledged restaurant. Across the decades, chefs have offered a rich variety of southern and Kentucky staples, including fried chicken, cornbread muffins, and chess pie, prepared with fresh, local ingredients.

It has continued to operate as a well-known, atmospheric restaurant to the present year, despite closing down temporarily through the duration of World War II due to labor scarcity, and again experiencing a closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the historic building still stands, serving as a longstanding testament to the earliest years of our state’s history.