Escape to Kentucky History


History Center Campus   •   Famous People   •   Other Historic Sites   •   Historic Cemetaries   •   Pewee Valley Museum

NEWLY RENOVATED! Peyton Samuel Head Interactive Museum



Oldham KY holds 2 of only 9 Underground Railroad Designations by the National Park Service Network to Freedom found in Kentucky.

Escape to Kentucky History Thru Oldham KY! The newly renovated history museum is NOW OPEN and better than we could have imagined! With interactive live exhibits featuring national and Kentucky historical favorites with Oldham KY roots, you will experience:

The Underground Railroad exhibit with famous slave, Henry Bibb.

The D. W. Griffith Theater – the “Father of the Motion Picture”

Pearl Harbor exhibit

Annie Fellows Johnston‘s “The Little Colonel,”exhibit – the book series that later made actress Shirley Temple famous!

Rob Morris, founder of the Order of the Eastern Star

Historical Hermitage Farm exhibit featuring Kentucky’s historic race horse industry from its infancy

Kentucky State Reformatory unique exhibit designed by the inmates themselves showcasing the contributions of the reformatory to the community.

NancyTheissNancy Stearns Theiss, PhD – Executive Director, Oldham County Historical Society

Hours: Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday noon-4 p.m.
106 N. Second Ave.
La Grange, KY 40031
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Brief Oldham History


Colonel William Oldham Brochure

Oldham County was formed in 1823 from parts of Henry, Jefferson and Shelby Counties, earning its spot as the 74th Kentucky county. It was named for Colonel William Oldham (1753-1791), a distinguished Revolutionary War officer from Jefferson County. The county seat was first established along the Ohio River in Westport, which became a bustling river city in the early 1800s. As the town continued to grow, warehouses were built along the Ohio River to accommodate hemp, flour, tobacco and pork – items that were shipped to New Orleans.

Major William Berry Taylor (1765-1836) came to the area in December 1796 with his parents, and is credited with donating 50 acres for the establishment of La Grange and a county courthouse in 1827. The county seat was permanently moved to La Grange in 1838. The community felt this spot afforded a more centralized location to conduct county business than Westport. La Grange became an incorporated city in 1840.

The Louisville and Frankfort Railroad Company may have brought about the biggest change when it introduced rail lines in the area in the 1850s. This forced many new towns and communities to spring up. Eventually the railroad ceased operating as a form of public transportation, but Trains still rumble and draw thousands of tourists to historic Main Street in La Grange.

Two Signature Events Not to Be Missed

ColonialTradeFaireColonial Trade Faire – Oldham County History Center Campus, La Grange, KY

Always held the first weekend in June, in conjunction with Arts on the Green, the Colonial Trade Faire brings the 18th century to life. Period artisans will display hand-crafted goods such as clothing, hand-dyed yarns, loom woven items, toys, copperware, jewelry, lanterns and beeswax candles. Day-long, on-going demonstrations of heritage skills will include spinning/weaving, music, a look at life in the Militia, musical instruments, 18th century cannon demonstration, and various Kentucky authors signing and selling their books.

Colonial Christmas Market – Oldham History Center Campus, La Grange, KYColonialChristmasMarket

Can’t get to Colonial Williamsburg to shop? Visit us – it’s the next best thing! Similar to the Colonial Trade Faire, but held indoors in the Rob Morris Educational Building. This market features hand-crafted items by Kentucky artisans and demonstrations by the artists. With many reasonably-priced unique items, this is the perfect event to attend to get a head-start on Christmas shopping.