With less than 17,000 residents, Kentucky’s best-kept secret could very easily be the small town of Danville. The community is filled with history and interesting attractions, despite its small size. It maintains the small town charm while providing modern convenience in a perfect balance of harmonious unity. Danville is lovingly nicknamed the city of firsts, and as you read on, you will understand why.
10. The Great Settlement Area
The Great Settlement Area surrounding Harrod’s Fort originally claimed Danville as its own. The smaller area was known as Crow’s Station initially, after a settler. Walker Daniel actually surveyed the area and purchased 76 acres in 1783. The city became Daniel, but in December 1787, it became Danville via Virginia Legislature.
9. Wilderness Trail Distillery at 4095 Lebanon Road in Danville.
This is a famed portion of the Kentucky Bourbon Craft Trail. Their spirits are still made using a copper pot with all ingredients purchased from local providers. Their ingredients travel about three miles from farm to distillery. This is also the first craft distillery rickhouse that was built in Kentucky. Tours are currently on hold as the distillery is in the process of moving to the Lebanon Road address..
8. The first state supported school for the deaf was hosted in Danville.
This school was initially the Kentucky Asylum for the Tuition of the Deaf and Dumb. It was established on April 10th, 1823 as the first school west of the Allegheny Mountains for the deaf.
7. First U.S. post office located west of the Allegheny Mountains
The first postmaster was put in place at this location on August 20, 1792. You can see the post office today at 134 S 2nd Street. It was originally located about two blocks west of where it currently sits on Constitution Square.
6. Law and order
Danville was home to the very first courthouse in Kentucky. It was established in 1834 in Boyle County. The courthouse was named after the renowned Judge John Boyle who served as a U.S. District Judge for Kentucky, a Congressman and a state representative.
5. Great American Dollhouse Museum
This everything doll-size museum is located at 344 Swope Drive in Danville. It has handmade furniture, tiny dishes, tea sets and a collection of amazing dolls from rag to porcelain. Some of the exhibits are so beautiful you would think they were created as collector’s items and not actual toys.
4. The McDowell House Museum at 125 S Second Street
An ovarian tumor was removed in 1809 by Ephraim McDowell. It was the first successful surgery of this type in the U.S. The home and some tools of this pioneer surgeon have been preserved. Seeing the almost medieval methods that were used successfully is both inspirational and horrifying.
3. The home of Centre College
It is home to the oldest college campus and administration building west of the Alleghney Mountains, Centre College. This college was founded in 1819. This is an undergraduate four-year liberal arts college. It averages less than 1,500 students per year and provides a great sense of pride in the community.
2. Constitution Square at 105 E Walnut Street
This square has several historical buildings that have been well preserved so the community could appreciate its heritage. There are also plaques for Kentucky’s governors. You can rush through the area in about 15 minutes, but it is so much more fun to take your time and really absorb the historical significance.
1. Community Arts Center at 401 W Main Street
This addition to the Downtown area provides unique exhibits and special programs. It is not a huge facility like in the bigger cities, but the works of art are creative and worth seeing. It adds another pleasant aspect to the community and an incentive for students.
These are just a few reasons why Danville is Kentucky’s best kept secret, (or at least one of them.) This quiet community is full of history and good people. What do you think is our best secret, town-wise?