Saturday, 26 May 2012

Rest day in Bardstown

N 3rd Street, Bardstown's main street

Bardstown (pop. 11,000) is an attractive small town, supposedly one of the hundred best in America. It was founded in 1780 and is the second-oldest city in Kentucky. Many early buildings survive and are still in use in the historic centre. I had dinner last night (white bean soup and pot roast) in one that has been a restaurant continuously for more than two hundred years. There is a genuine shopping street, with cafes and an interesting bookshop, such as one rarely sees in American towns. Infrastructure has been provided to help pedestrians cross roads. There are some beautiful old homes close to the centre. Bardstown boasts that it is the bourbon capital of the world, with several distilleries in the neighbourhood. 

There are five small museums, located close to one another in the town centre. Ten dollars buys a combined ticket giving entry to them all. Three have a military theme, with one being devoted to the Civil War west of the Appalachians, one to women in the Civil War, and one to the involvement of people from 'mid-America' in all the country's wars up to 1991. There is a small natural history museum with stuffed animals of North America and cases of fossils and minerals. The fifth museum is an open-air re-creation of a pioneer village of the 1790s with original or restored log cabins and a water mill.

Basilica of St Joseph Proto-Cathedral
Bardstown has the first Catholic cathedral to be built west of the Allegheny Mountains, the Basilica of St. Joseph, consecrated in 1819. It is now a parish church but in honour of its past retains the title of Proto-Cathedral. The interior photo below shows part of the timber beam making up one of the columns. It stands on a stone foundation.

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