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Frankfort, Kentucky's Heritage Capitol

© By Mary Martin
Switzer Bridge With a population of only 27,741, nevertheless, Frankfort possesses a vast array of architectural styles, famous land marks, museums and unique shopping, making it a special visit. Kentucky State University's basketball team often puts the state capitol on the map, 50 miles east of Louisville and 25 miles west of Lexington and easily accessible to U.S. 60, Interstate 64 and Interstate 75. This centralized location favourably positions Frankfort between three major airports: Lexington Bluegrass Airport, 30 minutes; Louisville International Airport, 50 minutes; and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, 1 hour 15 minutes.
     Frankfort is steeped in historical heritage, old world ambiance, and a very special brand of southern hospitality. To stroll the downtown district and to visit our historic homes is a step back in time.
     Begin your visit with a guided tour of the State Capitol (700 Capital Avenue, 502-564-3449). Kentucky's Capitol is the fourth permanent building since statehood in 1792. It was built to replace the earlier 1830 capitol, still standing in Downtown Frankfort, which had become inadequate to accommodate the growing state government. See the house and senate chambers, as well as the beautiful interior of the 100 year old building.
     On a Tuesday or Thursday, schedule a tour of the Governor's Mansion. If not, take the time to stroll the grounds of the Capitol where you will encounter the floral clock, rose garden and the new sculpture garden, and you can walk by the Governor's mansion and see the beautiful flower beds. The face of the colourful flowering clock is 34 ft across and is festooned with thousands of plants. For good luck, toss a coin into the fountain.
     Downtown Frankfort is best for lunch along Broadway St., then stroll 1 block to the T.D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. Enjoy the self-guided Journey, which takes you through the history from pre-settlement to modern times. Admission allows you to tour the Old Capitol Building - which you can do on Day 2. Across the street locate the Capital City Museum to explore over 200 years of politics, architecture and everyday life.

Civil War Statue In The Fog  Art Work  Old Frankfort Pike  Floral Clock 

     Start your second day with a guided tour of the Old Capitol Building (Broadway and St. Clair Street, 502-564-1792). Operated by the Kentucky Historical Society, this national landmark introduced Greek Revival architecture to the United States west of the Appalachian Mountains. Former home to Kentucky's House and Senate, this building features a unique self-supporting staircase held together by pressure and precision. it's the site of the shooting of William Goebel, the only governor in American history to die in office from an assassin's wounds. Across the street, try a great cup of coffee and a snack at the Kentucky Coffeetree Café. Three blocks away you'll find Liberty Hall Historic Site. This home of Kentucky's first senator is a fascinating journey back in time. After lunch, spend the afternoon doing the downtown walking / driving tour.
     Before leaving Frankfort, stop at Daniel Boone's Grave. The gravesite overlooks the city of Frankfort. On your way out of town, make one last stop at the Vietnam Memorial. This memorial is one of the most unusual and original memorials in the country; it overlooks the city and contains the names of Kentuckians killed in Vietnam engraved in granite below the memorial sundial, where on the anniversary of each soldier's death, the point of the gnomon's shadow actually touches the veteran's name. Hours are dawn - dusk.
     The Frank Lloyd Wright - Ziegler House, (509 Shelby Street, 502-227-4496) is worth noting. This great architect designed his only house built in Kentucky for the Rev. Jesse R. Zeigler. The 1910 "prairie style" house, now completely restored has a lighted stained glass case surrounding the fireplace at the ceiling, the only one designed by Wright during this prairie period. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately, The home is not open to the public.

Old Capitol  Daniel Boone grave  Triple Towers  Capitol At Dawn

Mary Martin is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is interested in and writes about world travel.

Photo Credits
Courtesy of Visit Frankfort (Gene Burch)

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Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfort_kentucky
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Frankfort_%28Kentucky%29
About.com: http://architecture.about.com/od/greatbuildings/ig/Monuments-and-Memorials/Kentucky-Vietnam-Sundial.htm
Visit Frankfort: http://www.visitfrankfort.com/

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