Georgetown, Kentucky: Walk Through Time

From our home base at Whispering Hills RV Park, we spent an enjoyable week exploring historic Georgetown and the local area. A generally pleasant campground in a pastoral setting, Whispering Hills RV Park is located approximately 2.5 miles off I-75 at Exit 129 and 7 miles north of Georgetown on U.S. Highway 25.

Historic Downtown Georgetown is one of the most picturesque Victorian downtown areas in Kentucky. It is home to an impressive array of antique and specialty shops.

The Georgetown City Hall building was constructed in 1899 on the east end of the site of the famous old Mahoney-Pratt Hotel. Restoration of City Hall began late 1980. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Georgetown City Hall building was constructed in 1899 on the east end of the site of the famous old Mahoney-Pratt Hotel. Restoration of City Hall began late 1980. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A walking tour of downtown Georgetown offers a look at some of the city’s outstanding residential and commercial architecture that includes over 200 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A tour brochure and map are available.

But. the most important attraction to the Georgetown area is the Royal Spring, discovered in 1774. It offers a steady and substantial source of water year round. The spring flows into the North Elkhorn Creek which in turn meanders into the nearby Kentucky River.

John McClelland built a fort in 1775 on the bluff above the spring. McClelland Station, the forerunner of Georgetown was one of the first settlements north of the Kentucky River.

The Scott County Courthouse, the fourth to be constructed, was built in 1876 using the Victorian architectural style with a mansard roof and high bell tower. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Scott County Courthouse, the fourth to be constructed, was built in 1876 using the Victorian architectural style with a mansard roof and high bell tower. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The first permanent settlers came to the Royal Spring under the leadership of Rev. Elijah Craig, a Baptist minister. Craig was an accomplished businessman as well as an independent-minded minister. He laid out a new town with broad streets and built a fulling mill, a paper mill, a rope walk, a school, and some sort of distilling apparatus. Rev. Craig reputedly made the first bourbon here in 1789 by using corn, rye, and barley malt—and letting it age in charred barrels.

The Milton Leach cabin was built by a former slave and moved to the park as a museum. The Royal Springs is still Georgetown’s source of water after more than 240 years. In 1790 Elijah Craig changed the name the small community to George Town in honor of President George Washington.

Royal Spring, still visible today at Royal Spring Park on West Main Street, provided the water for Baptist minister Rev. Elijah Craig's new mixture in 1789. It is Kentucky's largest spring-based public water system, serving some 7,000 customers. Also at the park is an authentic 1874 log cabin built by former slave Milton Leach. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Royal Spring, still visible today at Royal Spring Park on West Main Street, provided the water for Baptist minister Rev. Elijah Craig’s new mixture in 1789. It is Kentucky’s largest spring-based public water system, serving some 7,000 customers. Also at the park is an authentic 1874 log cabin built by former slave Milton Leach. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Georgetown City Hall building was constructed in 1899 on the east end of the site of the famous old Mahoney-Pratt Hotel. Restoration of City Hall began late 1980.

The Scott County Courthouse, the fourth to be constructed, was built in 1876 using the Victorian architectural style with a mansard roof and high bell tower and was most recently renovated in 1995. The courthouse interior is open to the public.

The Official Kentucky-Japan Friendship Garden, Yuko-En on the Elkhorn is a six-acre community garden located on U.S. 25 north in Georgetown. It is adjacent to the historic Cardome Centre, on Elkhorn Creek. Yuko-En’s paths offer visitors a walk through a Bluegrass landscape in a Japanese style-stroll garden. Enjoy arched bridges, waterfalls, Japanese Koi, a Zen Rock garden and more. Visitors may stroll on their own daily from dawn until dusk.

For over 200 years, the Cardome Centre has served a prominent position in the historical, cultural, and social development of the community. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For over 200 years, the Cardome Centre has served a prominent position in the historical, cultural, and social development of the community. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For over 200 years, the Cardome Centre has served a prominent position in the historical, cultural, and social development of the community. Named from the Latin phrase, “cara domus,” which means “dear home,” Cardome continues to be a place where visitors feel welcome. We toured the beautiful grounds. Cardome offers a unique experience with its peaceful grounds and beautiful architecture. Rich in history and untouched by time, Cardome is truly a Kentucky treasure.

Georgetown College was founded in 1829 by orthodox Baptists to provide education for clergy to combat the reforming threat of the Disciples of Christ, and by those men simply interested in providing a superior classical education. Thereafter the college continued to prosper and in 1898 became one of the first such institutions in the South to become coeducational.

The Official Kentucky-Japan Friendship Garden, Yuko-En on the Elkhorn is a six-acre community garden located on U.S. 25 north in Georgetown. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Official Kentucky-Japan Friendship Garden, Yuko-En on the Elkhorn is a six-acre community garden located on U.S. 25 north in Georgetown. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Everywhere you look, you’ll find Southern architecture, antiques, and museum artifacts. Each location weaves a tale of history, mystery or cultural uniqueness. Treasures for the entire family; treasures you will find nowhere else.

We found Georgetown to be the perfect location to discover genuine Kentucky treasures. We  enjoyed our week but have left numerous attractions for another visit—Kentucky Horse Park, Old Friends, Danville and Shaker Museum, Ark Encounter, and Toyota Auto Plant Tour.

Worth Pondering…

The Elkhorn

In the Bluegrass of Central Kentucky
In silence and solitude an ancient wanderer

Timeless and tireless moves through our lives
He is a wanderer, a traveler among green hills
Ancient among the ancient, timeless and tireless
Here before our time, here after our time
Timeless and tireless.an ancient among the ancient
A wanderer in the Bluegrass

—Jerry Richardson

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