A quick glance:
Paris and Bourbon County have a rich history. Kentucky was at first a part of Virginia but in 1785 Bourbon County was created, named for the French royal family that supported this area during the Revolution. The city of Paris became the county seat in 1789. The area’s agrarian economy was based on hemp, corn, sheep, horses, tobacco, bluegrass seed, and whiskey. There are no existing distilleries left in the county since none of them reopened after Prohibition.
The Civil War impacted Bourbon Countians. Families became divided according to the direction the sympathy fell…either for the Union or the Confederacy. After the Civil War, the railroad made Paris a busy hub with good jobs and good pay for hundreds of families. Smaller towns and villages began to emerge in the county including Clintonville, Centerville, Little Rock, Hutchison, Ruddles Mills, North Middletown and Millersburg. Today, revitalization of these smaller sections of the county is a priority with interested citizens.
A shift in the agricultural economy occurred at the beginning of the 20th century. Sheeo and bluegrass seed industries decreased while there was growth in tobacco and raising Thoroughbred horses. Bourbon County is surrounded by beautiful horse farms. One of the most famous is Claiborne Farm. Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner stood at stud and is buried in its equine cemetery. Tours are offered but must be reserved. For information, call 859-987-2330.
Main Street Paris, once a buffalo trail, contains intact examples of Victorian architecture.
Other architectural jewels can be found by visiting:
>Historic Cane Ridge Meeting House – 1791 Log Church located on KY 537 east of Paris. The grounds include a historic cemetery, the Shrine, picnic areas & a museum! Call 859-987-5350 for information.
>Annunciation Church – 1007 Main. This structure was built pre-Civil War, and expanded in 1869-70. The new Parish Hall on High Street was completed in 2005.
>YMCA – 917 Main Street. Built ca. 1915, and underwent major renovations and additions in 2002-2003.
>Edward Shinners Building – 731 Main. Ca. 1891, noted in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not as the tallest three-story building in the U.S. Now it houses Paradise Café.
>Thomas F. Brannon Saloon – 602 Main was built in 1888 and was a toy store and millinery shop in 1890. It then became a saloon.
>Hinton Block – 530 Main Street. Built in 1891, this is the largest 19th century commercial building in downtown Paris.
>Odd Fellows Hall – 500 Main. Built in 1854-55, it served as a hospital during the Civil War.