Bardstown is a home rule-class city in Nelson County, Kentucky, in the United States. The population was recorded as 11,700 by the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Nelson County. It is named for the pioneering Bard brothers. David Bard obtained a 1,000 acres (400Â ha) land grant in 1785 in what was then Jefferson County, Virginia from Governor Patrick Henry. William Bard surveyed and platted the town. It was originally chartered as Baird's Town.
First settled by European Americans in 1780, Bardstown is the second oldest city in Kentucky. Named county seat of the newly created Nelson County, Virginia (now Kentucky) in 1784, the town was formally established in 1788. It was incorporated by the state assembly in 1838.
Reflecting the westward migration of Americans over the "Blue Ridge" after the Revolutionary War, Bardstown was also the first center of Roman Catholicism west of the Appalachian Mountains in the original western frontier territories of the United States. The Diocese of Bardstown was established on February 8, 1808, by Pope Pius VII, (1742-1823, served 1800-1823), to serve all Catholics between the Appalachians and the Mississippi River. This divided the previous all-encompassing Diocese of Baltimore, established in 1789. This area is now served by 44 dioceses and archdioceses in 10 states, showing the development of communities with Catholics across the nation as immigration brought new populations.
The Bardstown cathedral is the Basilica of Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedral. In 1841 the seat of the Diocese was transferred to the nearby larger river town and port of Louisville on the south bank of the Ohio River. Bardstown also has a Roman Catholic parochial high school, Bethlehem High School.
The Old Talbott Tavern, built in 1779 and located just off the Courthouse Square in the center of Bardstown, is part of the city's rich history. Several notable Americans passed through the tavern's doors, including famed frontiersman Daniel Boone and future 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. Bullet holes in an upstairs wall are reputed to have been shot by Jesse James. People claim to have encountered ghosts or other paranormal activity at the tavern.
Bardstown is the site of My Old Kentucky Home State Park. Judge John Rowan and his wife Ann Lytle Rowan built "Federal Hill" on their plantation, reportedly the mansion that inspired his cousin Stephen Foster to write the song "My Old Kentucky Home." Federal Hill is depicted on the reverse of the Kentucky state quarter issued by the United States Mint in 2002.
Several distilleries operate in and around the Bardstown area, including Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Barton 1792 and Maker's Mark, which is located in nearby Loretto. The regional production of bourbon is celebrated by the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, whose promoters have trademarked the phrase, Bourbon Capital of the World, to apply exclusively to Bardstown. The local tourism commission promotes the use of the trademarked phrase. A public museum, the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey, showcases this aspect of local history.
Bardstown's downtown area is designated as a historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2012, Bardstown was voted as "The Most Beautiful Small Town in America" in the Destination Marketing Association International's "Best of the Road" competition.
Bardstown is located at 32Â°48â²56â³N 85Â°27â²47â³W (32.705033, -97.122839).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.4 square miles (19.2Â km2), all but 0.1 square miles (0.3Â km2) of which is land.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the KÃ¶ppen Climate Classification system, Bardstown has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
As of the census of 2010, there were 11,700 people, 4,712 households, and 2,949 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,577.9 per square mile (609.2/km2). There were 5,113 housing units at an average density of 689.5 per square mile (266.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 82.31% White (80.79% non-Hispanic), 12.39% African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.75% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.56% from other races, and 2.78% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 3.71% of the population.
There were 4,712 households out of which 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.3% were married couples living together, 19.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 37.4% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.01.
The age distribution was 27.7% under 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 or older. The median age was 34.0 years. For every 100 females there were 88.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.3 males.
As of the 2010 Census, the median income for a household in the city was $50,046, and the median income for a family was $60,609. Full-time male workers had a median income of $46,500 versus $36,551 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,059. About 11.3% of families and 15.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.6% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2000, there were 10,374 people, 4,195 households, and 2,701 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,445.3 per square mile (558.0/km2). There were 4,488 housing units at an average density of 625.3 per square mile (241.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 82.11% White, 15.07% African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.94% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.67% from other races, and 1.07% from two or more races. Hispanic and Latino of any race were 1.38% of the population.
There were 4,195 households out of which 34.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.7% were married couples living together, 17.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.6% were non-families. 31.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.00.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.7% under 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 87.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $31,497, and the median income for a family was $41,065. Males had a median income of $31,850 versus $20,537 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,681. About 14.6% of families and 17.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.6% of those under age 18 and 15.8% of those age 65 or over.
The Bluegrass Parkway is a limited-access highway that passes just south of Bardstown. A part of the Kentucky parkway system, the highway was formerly a toll road. Tolls were removed in 1991 after its construction bonds had been paid off.
Railroad freight service is provided by the R.J. Corman Railroad Central Kentucky Lines, over the former Bardstown Branch of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.
Corman also operates My Old Kentucky Dinner Train, a short-route passenger train specializing in dinner service. It travels the line from the historic Bardstown depot to Clermont and back.
Attractions and events
- The Civil War Museum in Bardstown is the fourth-largest Civil War museum in the country.
- The Kentucky Bourbon Festival celebrates Bardstown's history in the production of bourbon. It was designated Kentucky's official bourbon festival by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2000.
- My Old Kentucky Home State Park, site of the mansion that inspired Kentucky's state song, "My Old Kentucky Home."
- Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey celebrates Bardstown's history in the production of whiskey.
- "Stephen Foster - The Musical" an outdoor musical about Stephen Foster, composer of "My Old Kentucky Home." It was designated Kentucky's official outdoor musical by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2002.
- The Greene County Sport Parachute Center west of Bardstown was one of the oldest continually operating drop zones in the United States, existing from 1968 through July 15, 2007, when the lease for the land was not renewed. The primary jump plane was a 1955 DHC-2 Beaver, which held 8 jumpers at a time.
- Wickland, a private residence that has been the home of three Governors of Kentucky and is open to the public for tours.
- A memorial to steamboat inventor John Fitch stands in Courthouse Square, which includes a replica of his first steamboat.
Almost all of the city is served by the Bardstown City Schools; the district also includes significant portions of the built-up area outside the city limits. Brent A. Holsclaw is the Superintendent of Schools.
The school district includes an Early Childhood Education Center, Primary School, Elementary School, Middle School and High School.
Some of the city is instead served by the surrounding Nelson County School District.
- J.C. Bailey, 1983â"2010 professional wrestler
- Marie Mattingly Meloney, journalist
- Hal Moore, retired U.S. Army lieutenant general. Co-author of We Were Soldiers Onceâ¦ And Young
- Leroy Augustus Stafford, Confederate brigadier general mortally wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864, was educated in Bardstown.
In popular culture
Bardstown provides much of the setting for the post-Apocalyptic novel First Angel by Ed Mann. Published in 1989, the novel tells of life after a large-scale nuclear attack in the United States and how a flood of refugees complicate survival in Nelson County. The Kentucky National Guard armory, school, courthouse and other buildings are mentioned throughout the book.
- Bardstown Historic District
- The Kentucky Standard
- Heaven Hill
- City of Bardstown
- Official tourism site
- Kentucky Bourbon Festival
- The Kentucky Standard Newspaper