Preserve America Community:
Georgetown, Kentucky, (population 18,080) is just north of the crossroads of I-75 and I-64, 10 miles north of Lexington, the Horse Capital of the World. Noted for its profusion of historic houses and fine antique shopping, Georgetown is built around a large spring that still serves as its primary water source.
Georgetown's back roads offer horse farms, Irish fieldstone fences,
the meandering Elkhorn and Eagle creeks, and rolling fields of
tobacco and cattle.
Native peoples have lived, hunted, and fished along the banks of Elkhorn Creek for at least 15,000 years. In particular, the Adena culture (800 B.C.-800 A.D.) thrived in the area, with several significant mounds still marking their presence.
A surveying expedition in 1774 led to construction of McClelland's Fort, built overlooking the spring in 1776. After an attack by Indians in 1777, the fort was abandoned. In 1784, Elijah Craig, a Baptist preacher from Spotsylvania County, Virginia, incorporated the town of Lebanon near the site of McClelland's Fort in the Virginia legislature.
In 1790, the town's name was changed to George Town in honor of President George Washington, and in 1792 it became George Town, Kentucky, when Kentucky became the15th State of the union.
Elijaah Craig is credited with the establishment of the first classical school in Kentucky (later Georgetown College), the first mills, and the first ropewalk. He is perhaps best known for his world famous invention, bourbon whiskey.
Royal Spring, still visible today at Royal Spring Park on West Main Street, provided the water for the new mixture. During the 19th-century, Georgetown's cultural and economic life was closely tied to the deep South. While Kentucky remained officially neutral during the Civil War, Scott County's leanings were Southern.
Today an 1874 log cabin, built by a former slave, is a mini-museum for local history. A walking tour of downtown Georgetown, protected and promoted by a Kentucky Renaissance Main Street program, showcases some of the city's outstanding residential and commercial architecture, including more than 300 buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Georgetown also boasts five National Register historic districts, and has adaptively reused its old library for government offices, its old post office for the Georgetown/Scott County Museum, and is renovating the historic jail as an arts and cultural center.
For more information
Georgetown/Scott County Tourism Commission: www.georgetownky.com
Georgetown/Scott County Museum: www.scottcountymuseum.org
Updated August 19, 2009