Ex­plore one of Ken­tucky’s most pic­turesque towns.

Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle Magazine - - Table Of Contents - BY KATHY WITT

Sal­lie Ward was saucy and sassy, a brassy broad who loved noth­ing more than scan­dal­iz­ing po­lite so­ci­ety. This in­cluded once strip­ping down to her “birth­day suit” in front of her moth­erin-law dur­ing a party hosted for Bos­ton’s up­per crust. Sal­lie’s 1849 mar­riage didn’t last, but this Ken­tucky belle’s no­to­ri­ety did.


How I wish I could have met Sal­lie! On a visit to Ge­orge­town’s Ward Hall, con­sid­ered one of the finest Greek Re­vival-style man­sions in the United States, Ron Bryant, Ward Hall Preser­va­tion Foun­da­tion board chair, did such a fine job bring­ing Sal­lie to life, I missed her when I left.

As we toured the circa 1850s an­te­bel­lum home de­scribed by a de­scen­dant as “a ver­i­ta­ble palace, sur­rounded by a fairy gar­den,” I stud­ied Sal­lie’s por­trait (is that a twin­kle in her eye?) and wan­dered up the grace­ful el­lip­ti­cal stair­case to her bed­room. Bryant spun sto­ries of this un­apolo­getic (three-time) di­vorcee and her der­ring-do, which in­cluded rid­ing a horse up the grand stair­case at Louisville’s ven­er­a­ble Galt House Ho­tel.

Tak­ing a guided tour of Ward Hall dur­ing its Open Houses, held the first two week­ends of the month, is one way to delve into the fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory of one of Ken­tucky’s most pic­turesque small towns. An­other way is to pick up a copy of the His­toric Walk­ing Tour and make a bee­line to where bour­bon be­gan.

As I dis­cov­ered, you’ll be stand­ing at the site of one of the most dis­puted claims in Ken­tucky—that of the true birth­place of bour­bon. Ac­cord­ing to leg­end, Ge­orge­town’s Royal Spring Park is where, in 1789, Bap­tist min­is­ter Eli­jah Craig first dis­tilled bour­bon, raising more hal­lelu­jahs for his spir­its than his ser­mons.


The self-guided tour takes you through Ge­orge­town’s ar­chi­tec­turally beau­ti­ful down­town, where main streets are trimmed with Amer­i­can flags and colour­ful hang­ing flower bas­kets. Vic­to­rian-era build­ings are so well-pre­served the town re­sem­bles a movie set.

Canopied store­fronts frame good­ies within art gal­leries spe­cial­iz­ing in equine art and photography. Bou­tiques in­clude Bird­song Quilt­ing and Crafts and Heir­looms & Gretchen’s—one of Ken­tucky’s only au­then­tic stained-glass shops—where you can also take classes. A col­lec­tion of equine por­traits spied in­side the Ge­orge­town and Scott County Mu­seum re­minded me I was in the midst of Ken­tucky Horse Coun­try.

I’m not a geo­cacher, but Ge­orge­town’s two ad­ven­tures—the Scott County Geotrot and His­toric Buf­falo Geo­trail—had me re­con­sid­er­ing. The circa 1917 Sadieville Rosen­wald School, one of the many state-of-the-art schools built across the South in the early 20th cen­tury for African Amer­i­can chil­dren, is on the for­mer while the mar­riage lo­ca­tion of train and bank rob­bing out­laws Frank and Jesse James’ par­ents is on the lat­ter.

Ge­orge­town/scott County Tourism

ABOVE: Ward Hall is an im­pres­sive 19th-cen­tury Greek Re­vival an­te­bel­lum plan­ta­tion man­sion whose US$50,000 price tag was paid for in gold by its owner, Ju­nius Ward.

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