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We stay away from politics here. But recently in a “Campaign 2016” article we came across the town of Paris, Kentucky.

We were less interested in the partisan rhetoric contrasting Paris, Kentucky to Paris, France. Instead, we were drawn to Paris, Kentucky itself.

By the look of things it is anchored by a pretty Main Street.

According to Wikipedia, Paris’ Main Street  “is a product of much time, effort, and money put into the preservation and revitalization of historic buildings downtown” featuring new restaurants “garnering attention from the Central Kentucky region and beyond”.

Paris itself is located 18 miles (29 km) northeast of  Lexington on the Stoner Fork of the Licking River. The county seat, its population was 8,553 (2010).

Originally settled in 1776, the town was at first called Hopewell, named after the New Jersey community by the same name. A year later (1790),  it was renamed Paris after the French capital to honor the French assistance during the American Revolution. Among the early settlers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries were French refugees who had fled the excesses of their own revolution.

Over the years, citizens of distinction have included two governors of Illinois (William Lee D. Ewing, the state’s fifth and Jospeh Duncan, the sixth), David Dick, a former  CBS News  correspondent retired to Bourbon County c. 1985, where he taught at the University of Kentucky, farmed, and was an author and publisher, and football coaches Blanton Collier and Bill Ansparger.

The community is highlighted by the Nannine Clay Willis Arborteum,  a 4-acre (16,000 m2) arboretum that is home to the Garden Club of Kentucky. Many of the trees on the grounds were planted in the 1850s when the house was built. The Hopewell Museum is housed in a beaux arts structure built in 1909 that served as the area’s first post office,and the Duncan Tavern, located in Courthouse Square, is home to the Kentucky Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. That building is a stone structure built in 1788. These days it houses an extensive genealogical collection.

Perhaps the most unique structure is the Shinner Building, located on the corner of 8th and Main streets. It is listed by Ripley’s Believe It or Not! as the world’s tallest three-story structure. Built in 1891, it is used for the Paradise Cafe.

Finally worth a look is  the Vardens Building, located at 509 Main Street. It is an example of Victorian architecture and interior design. Remodeled in 1891, the building housed Vardens and Son Druggists from 1888 to 1953. The “new” façade features pressed-metal corinthian columns embellished with rosettes. For the inside, Varden had South African mahogany apothecary cabinets made to show his wares. To accent the cabinetry he ordered Tiffany Glass Company stained glass windows. The three-story building once had a surgeon and dental office on the second floor. The Vardens Building still has a ballroom on its top floor. The Grand Ballroom hosted many community dances and parties, serving as the ballroom to the Fordham Hotel, formerly located next door. The building was recently bought and incorporated into the Vardens Complex, a multi-use project with retail, office, and restaurant space.

From a culinary perspective it appears that French food can be found in Paris, Kentucky if you look hard enough.  Creole entries in the past were offered at  Campbell’s in Paris  and onion soup can be found at Clay’s Downtown Restaurant. Other options in  town include Mexican, Vietnamese and new age as well as American favorites.
So, while very different fom its French counterpart, Paris Kentucky is well worth a trip beyond the campaign headlines.

 

 

 

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