Main Streets 2016: Kentucky
Drive a few hours into the heart of bluegrass country and you’ll cross Main Street in Harrodsburg, one of Kentucky’s oldest communities. Its churches, restaurants and community gathering spots make Main Street the historic focal point of Harrodsburg, which according to Best Choice Reviews has one of the “50 Best Small Town Downtowns in America.”
Founded just before the American Revolution, Harrodsburg was the first settlement in Kentucky, and the downtown brings its history to life. Old Fort Harrod State Park, two blocks from Main on College Street, features a full-scale replica of the fort that James Harrod built in 1774, with cabins, homemade furniture, tools and agricultural implements. Costumed actors bring Fort Harrod to life, giving craftwork and farm demonstrations from April to October.
Also in the park are the Lincoln Marriage Temple, where President Lincoln’s parents, Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, were married in 1806, and the Mansion Museum, a Greek Revival home built in 1812 that now spotlights indigenous and Civil War-era artifacts. If you’re in the mood to be spooked, check out the Harrodsburg Ghost Walk, a one-mile tour of historic downtown led by guides dressed in 1850s garb.
There’s much more than history to downtown Harrodsburg — there are shopping, dining and sweet treats as well. Browse handcrafted furniture, antiques and vintage kitchenware at the Old Country Store and grab a bite to eat at the Blue Moon Café, a charming spot that has maintained the building’s historic façade. Indulge yourself at Kentucky Fudge Company, an ice cream and treat shop in the space that once housed Harrodsburg’s old-time pharmacy and soda fountain.
Like other Southern towns, churches are the heart and soul of community life in Harrodsburg, and Harrodsburg Christian Church, United Presbyterian Church and St. Philips Episcopal Church are all located on or near Main Street. Each June, the town comes together to celebrate the Fort Harrod Beef Festival to revel in a weekend of bourbon tasting, wine and cheese samples, burger and sauce samples and grilling competitions for kids. To work off all that good food, many festival-goers also participate in the Stampede 5K Run/Walk, which raises money for United Way.
Photo courtesy of Sydney and Russell Poore