County Connection: Hopewell Museum offers a peek into Bourbon County's past

02/28/2018 10:00 AM

PARIS – Bourbon County was established in 1785 from land given by Fayette County, Virginia, and named after the French House of Bourbon, in gratitude for Louis XVI of France’s assistance during the American Revolutionary War.

Bourbon County became part of the new state of Kentucky when it was created in 1792.

Whiskey was an early product of the county which had at one time 19 distilleries.

Whiskey barrels from the area were marked Old Bourbon when they were shipped downriver from the local port on the Ohio River. The bourbon industry ended in 1919 when prohibition went into effect.

One place where visitors and residents alike can learn about the history of the county is the Hopewell Museum in downtown Paris.

Hopewell Museum Executive Director Leah Craig says that history buffs can get their fix from a number of displays, both permanent and temporary.

“We have what we call our history hall, which is a general overview of Bourbon County history, and then we have rotating exhibits usually about two to four times a year,” Craig said. “Right now, the exhibit we are in is ‘Homework: How Women Became Domestic Engineers’ and explores the kind of tools and things that women were using back before a lot of the modern technology that we have today.”

As for the most notable item in the collection, Craig points to a piece of furniture which belonged to former Governor James Garrard.

“Governor Garrard was the second governor of Kentucky that was from Bourbon County,” Craig said.

Another historic site in the county that is experiencing a rebirth is the former 18-acre campus of the Millersburg Military Institute, located 10 miles northeast of Paris in the town of Millersburg.

The school, which opened in 1893, operated for 113 years before closing in July 2006 because of declining enrollment.

Bourbon Christian Academy bought the property and is renovating it so it is once again a place of learning for young people.

Click here for more information on the Hopewell Museum.

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