Changes coming to the Lexington History Museum

In the quarterly print edition of The Bluegrass Historian this month, a major change was announced concerning new admissions procedures at the Lexington History Museum. As of September 25, 2010, all visitors will be charged an admission fee. At the June board of trustees meeting, members voted to approve the admission charge in light of the museum’s budget. After the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, the admission policy will change again to offer free admission to Fayette County residents.

The admission changes also bring about changes in entering and exiting the Old Fayette County Courhouse which houses the Lexington History Museum. As of September 25, point of entry will be the Short Street entrance. The Main Street entrance will be permanently closed and signage will be placed accordingly.

After the Games close on October 10, Fayette County residents will be admitted at no charge upon presenting proof of residence (driver’s license, student ID, check, library card, etc.) The change in policy is because of projected budget deficits, but still remains in keeping with the spirit of Dr. Thomas D. Clark’s vision that local residents should not have to pay to learn about their heritage. The decision to charge admission to non-residents is supported by Dr. Clark’s widow.

Museum President and CEO had this to say about the impending changes:

The Museum receives no public operating funds, although the building is maintained at a minimum by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. The Museum operating expenses are totally dependent on private donations, such as the impending admissions costs.

The cost will be $5 for Adults and Children over 12, $3 for Children 6-11. Children 5 and under will be free. Visa, MasterCard and American Express credit cards will be accepted at both the admissions desk and in the gift shop. The three other History Center museums Isaac Scott Hathaway Museum, Pharmacy Museum and Public Safety Museum will remain free to the public.

For questions regarding these changes, please contact Museum President and CEO Jamie Millard by email or by phone (859) 254-0530.

Located at 215 W. Main St in Downtown Lexington, KY, the Lexington History Museum is open seven days a week 12-4 with extended hours on Saturday 10-4. During the World Equestrian Games, the hours will be extended to fit with the Spotlight Lexington events downtown. The new hours will be Sunday through Friday 10-6 with hours of 10-6 on Saturday. Following the close of the games, the museum will revert to its Friday through Monday schedule.

The Lexington History Museum engages all people in discovery and interpretation of the history of Lexington, KY and the Bluegrass region.


“Hands on History” Summer Day Camp mixes fun and learning!

The school year is drawing to a close and that means it is time to figure out what to do with the kids this summer. The Lexington History Museum is sponsoring 3 week-long summer day camp sessions for children of all ages. The camp mixes hands-on activities, walking tour of Lexington, trips to other historic sites and behind the scenes fun at the museum. Kids will play Native American games, explore life as a Pioneer, find out how Lexington was divided during the Civil War and create their own exhibit!

Three sessions will be held daily from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.: June 21- 25
July 05 – 09
July 12 – 16

Ages listed on the promotional material specify children 6 – 10, but we welcome children of all ages with a desire to learn about the history of Kentucky and Lexington!

Topics for the camp include: Native Americans in Kentucky, Lexington’s Pioneer Heritage, Abraham Lincoln and His Wife’s Hometown, Civil War Lexington, and Behind the Scenes of the Lexington History Museum.

Important Information about the Camp:

  • Each camp session costs $183 per camper
  • Cost includes all materials and any outside attraction admission charges.
  • Lunch is not included in the camp fee. (Campers should bring a bagged lunch printed with his/her name and a soft drink. There is access to a refrigerator to keep lunches cool.
  • Camps sessions are Monday – Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Campers are expected to be dropped off and picked up on time.
  • Late pick up at 5 p.m. is available for $25 per camper, per session.
  • Activities are in the Museum Center building, on the Court Square, or within short walking distance of the Museum

Payment is due the Monday before the desired session begins. Financial assistance is available for those in need.

Stop by the museum for a registration form or email for a pdf version!

We love Lexington. It’s true.

Commentary by Natasha Collier

I’ve been a volunteer at the Lexington History Museum since 2007. In that time, I have seen exhibits come and go, thousands pass by the reception desk, and have been involved in some wonderful projects. Preserving Lexington’s history, though extremely fun, is not an easy task, then again, I do not think anyone said it was. I was approached by a community member in August to talk about the museum and about Lexington for the Review Lex series and I was proud that the museum was featured as one of the first stops along the journey. Frankly, I was also very nervous (and you can tell when you listen to me speak) and I was thankful that Jamie Millard, the museum’s President and CEO was in his office so he could provide the intro for the clip.

I love Lexington. I love waking up to a crisp Spring morning in the Bluegrass, driving down Winchester Road and smelling the glorious aroma of roasted peanuts*. Horse farms, Keeneland, the FEI World Equestrian Games, Red Mile: I love the horse industry and its impact on the history of Lexington. I love First Presbyterian Church, the oldest church in Lexington. I love it all.

What does this have to do with Lexington’s history? Everything, really. At the end of the day, it is my love for this city that makes what I do at the Lexington History Museum very special. I want to share it with you.

What do YOU love about Lexington?

*By the way, the now Jif plant was formerly Big Top Peanut Butter and was owned by William T. Young. You can see an original can of Big Top peanuts and an unopened jar of Big Top Peanut Butter on display in Athens of the West.


2009 Museum Day

LEXINGTON, KY. — The Lexington History Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, and other museums across the nation will celebrate Museum Day on Saturday, Sept. 26. “

Museum Day is a wonderful way for Americans to celebrate their vast cultural heritage,” noted Jamie Millard, President & CEO of the Museum. “Here in Lexington, we celebrate that heritage at the Lexington History Museum every day.”

A special Museum Day pass is available at the website, The pass is good for free admission on Sept. 26. Because the Lexington History Museum is admission free, visitors presenting the pass will receive a 10% discount on any items purchased in the Court Square Trader Museum Store. The store features a large selection of books, signature clothing, and other items related to the history of Lexington, the Bluegrass, and Kentucky.

Located at 215 W. Main St., The Lexington History Museum is open daily, Noon-4 p.m., through October 2009. It also opens early Saturdays at 10 a.m. Admission is free. For more information call 859-254-0530 or visit

The Lexington History Museum engages all people in the discovery and interpretation of the history of Lexington, Ky., and the Bluegrass Region.

Around Kentucky June 4th – June 7th

Poke Sallet, Horses, Beef and Yard Sales
By: Natasha Collier

School’s out for the summer. The kids are growing restless and everyone in need of something to do. What’s the solution? Enjoy the start of festival season, of course! This weekend is packed full of exciting events; you could practically visit one each day! Visiting Kentucky festivals (and the historic sites nearby) are perfect mini-vacations for the family and they often offer local fare including that festival staple… funnel cake. I can’t guarantee funnel cake will be present at all of these, but bear with me folks. Don’t shoot the messenger! So, what is there to do this weekend? Check out some of these events and note some other things to see and do while you’re there. Be sure to check out museums and historic sites while you’re there as well!

Like garage sales? You’re in luck this weekend because the annual 400 Mile Sale along Highway 68 begins June 4th and lasts until June 7. Sixty communities from Paducah to Maysville and small towns in between are participating in this annual yard sale-esque event. Each community participating has different events and guidelines for their sale, so check out for specifics. Lexington neighbors Harrodsburg, Nicholasville, and Paris are participating and are just a short drive. But don’t just go for the rock bottom prices, there is plenty of history to be had as well. Historic Paris Bourbon County/ Hopewell Museum is hosting an Attic Sale, June 4th and 5th, which is coinciding with the Highway 68 sale. While you’re there, check out their newest exhibit Waco and the Bybees: Central Kentucky Art Pottery, 1900 to 1935. There is plenty history to see in Paris and Bourbon County as well. Duncan Tavern, built in 1788, was visited by frontiersmen Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton. Tours are conducted Wednesday, Friday & Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Thursday at 1:30 p.m. only.

The sale goes for miles and so does the fun, excitement and history. Multiple vendors will be set up along Lexington Street in Harrodsburg so you can get your yard sale fill, but also check out the Fort Harrod Beef Festival which runs June 5th-June 7th. A schedule of events can be found here so you can plan your day accordingly. But, and I’m serious, there HAS to be some funnel cake around there… right? ….Right? Surely. Nearby historic sites include Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill and Fort Harrod — founded in 1774 and is Kentucky’s oldest settlement. So plan your schedule so you can visit all three!

In the South-Eastern portion of the state you can sample the traditional southern delicacy known as Poke Sallet at the annual Poke Sallet festival of Harlan from June 4th – 7th. What’s Poke Sallet, you ask? It’s a green, leafy vegetable. Native Americans used it medicinally, but now it is proper to eat a mess with some Vidalia onions and some bacon. And if bacon grease laden vegetables aren’t your taste, sample the traditional festival food. No doubt there will be funnel cake. (I saw a picture from the festival in years past and there definitely was a stand.) Visit the festival site to get more information on events. While you’re in town, go see the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum or head on down to the Pine Mountain Settlement School, which was founded in 1913 by Katherine Pettit, native Lexingtonian.

If you want to stay in Lexington, just head on out to the Kentucky Horse Park for the Family Fun Fest June 6th – June 7th. This event, sponsored in part by Ale-8-One, was “created to bring the whole family together for a day of special activities, without having to drive far or spend much money. “ Special activities bound at the Family Fun Fest: coloring contests, train rides, prizes and special give-aways, and the first 100 families will receive a free six-pack of Ale-8-One! You can’t beat that! You can share the rest of the Horse Park with your family as well. The site of the 2010 World Equestrian Games, the KHP features the American Saddlebred Museum and the International Museum of the Horse, perfect for any horse lover AND museum lover.

Needless to say, this weekend is jam-packed full of neat stuff to do. Most important, however, is getting out in the community. Visit the historic sites, festivals, and museums that are the backbone of our cultural heritage.

This Day in History — May 6

On May 6, 1782, the town of Lexington was established by an act of the Virginia General Assembly. There had been settlers in the area for over five years, dating back to a party of frontiersmen who had been led by William McConnell, who originally named the area. Upon hearing of the colonists’ victory in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, on April 19, 1775, they named their campsite Lexington after Lexington, Massachusetts. In 1779, Colonel Robert Patterson and 25 companions came from Fort Harrod and erected a blockhouse. Cabins and a stockade were soon built, making the fort a place of importance. It would be three years before the Virginia Assembly would officially establish a town and another ten years before Kentucky would become a state.

By 1820, Lexington had become one of the wealthiest and most cultured towns west of the Allegheny Mountains. Home to Transylvania University, the sixteenth oldest university in the United States, the town was so cultured that it was given the nickname “Athens of the West”. Lexington would continue to grow and have a pivotal role in shaping the history of Kentucky. Many of 19th Century America’s most important people spent part of their lives in the city, including both American president Abraham Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis (who attended Transylvania University in 1823 and 1824), Civil War General John Hunt Morgan, US senator and vice president John C. Breckinridge, and US Senator, Transylvania law professor, and presidential candidate Henry Clay. Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, was born and raised in Lexington; the couple visited the city several times after their marriage in 1842.

Known as “The Thoroughbred Capital of the World,” Lexington is home to both Keeneland and Red Mile racecourses and miles of rolling bluegrass horse farms. The Kentucky Horse Park just north of Lexington is host to the Rolex Kentucky Three Day event, one of the top 5 annual equestrian competitions in the world. The city will be hosting the 2010 World Equestrian Games, the world’s largest equestrian event.

Lexington has four sister cities as designated by Sister Cities International. Deauville, France, County Kildare, Ireland, Shinhidaka, Japan, and Nemarket, England are Lexington’s sister cities and all, like Lexington, are major centers for the Thoroughbred industry in their respective countries.

227 years after Lexington was established as a “town” by the Virginia Assembly, Lexington is a thriving metropolis with a home-town feel. The town is still as cultured as it was in the 1800s. Home to museums, historic homes, an opera house and other music performance venues, art galleries, festivals and even sports arenas, Lexington really has it all.