The Bluegrass State from a Distance: Virtual Visits to 6 Kentucky Sites

Even though the Decorative Arts Trust postponed the Spring 2020 Symposium in the Lexington and Louisville regions of Kentucky due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to report that many of the historic sites and museum collections on the itinerary offer engaging virtual tours. While digital exploration cannot match the in-person, curator-led experiences that members enjoy during our symposia, please enjoy these resources to get a taste for the Bluegrass state.

Locust Grove

Locust Grove
Locust Grove

Louisville’s Locust Grove is a 55-acre 18th-century farm with a c. 1792 Georgian house. The original owners, William and Lucy Clark Croghan, welcomed a generation of American luminaries to their home, including Presidents James Monroe and Andrew Jackson, John James Audubon, and Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

Locust Grove’s online virtual tour lets you “walk” through the home’s interior, which has been furnished to illustrate the family’s wide connections and sophisticated taste.

Old State Capitol

Old State Capitol
Old State Capitol

The Old State Capitol in Frankfort, KY, served as home of the Kentucky General Assembly from 1830 to 1910 and was designed in the Greek Revival style by Gideon Shryock, an early Lexington architect. 

The Kentucky Historical Society offers live virtual tours of the Old State Capitol on their Facebook page on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1:00 pm. You can access recordings of past virtual tours—as well as other engaging videos, podcasts, and collection resources—on their Virtual Visitor webpage.

Conrad-Caldwell House

Conrad-Caldwell House
Conrad-Caldwell House

Often referred to as the masterpiece of famed local architect Arthur Loomis of Clarke & Loomis, the Conrad-Caldwell House is one of the finest examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in Louisville. The house was restored to reflect the Edwardian era and contains an extensive collection testifying to the abundant lifestyle of the owners, two of Louisville’s most prominent businessmen and entrepreneurs, Theophile Conrad and William E. Caldwell.

For a glimpse into this stunning space, watch an informative video about the Conrad-Caldwell House on YouTube and view a Facebook virtual tour video of the Dining Room and Butler’s Pantry and a Facebook virtual tour video about the artwork of Conrad-Caldwell House.

Filson Historical Society

Filson Historical Society
Filson

Founded in 1884, the Filson is a privately supported historical society dedicated to preserving the history of Kentucky and the Ohio Valley Region. The site houses an impressive collection of documents, paintings, objects, and books.

The Filson Historical Society is currently offering digital exhibits, lecture videos, and audio recordings of lectures.

Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill

Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
Shaker Village

Developed from 1805 until 1910, the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill is a tree-lined and beautifully restored community featuring Shaker buildings, collections, and living history opportunities.

Shaker Village hosts many informational videos on its Facebook page, including a video about the Restoration of the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill Waterhouse, a video about the University of Kentucky’s Department of Anthropology’s archaeological field school at the site of the original Centre Family Dwelling, and a video about restorations over the years from 42-year veteran employee Dixie Huffman.

J.B. Speed Memorial Museum

Speed Museum: Kentucky Sugar Chest, 1805‑1825
Speed Museum: Kentucky Sugar Chest, 1805‑1825

The J.B. Speed Memorial Museum in Louisville is the oldest, largest, and foremost museum of art in Kentucky, with a focus on Western art from antiquity to the present day.

As well as presenting their expansive collection online, the Speed Museum has created many videos on a variety of topics. Some of our favorites include an exterior and interior virtual tour video, a video about 19th-century Kentucky sideboards with Robert Brewer, a video about African Pottery, a video about teapots and teacups from 1900-1960, and a video about the quilt collection.

While we will miss seeing members in April, the Decorative Arts Trust hopes that these online resources will give you insights into some of the sites we had planned to visit during the symposium and the pre- and post-symposium tours.

We hope to have more information about rescheduling the Kentucky symposium soon. Check our website, follow us on social media, and sign up for our e-newsletter for updates.

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