Known to many as an American film pioneer and visionary, David Wark Griffith produced the first feature-length motion picture in 1915, The Birth of a Nation. Griffith had a knack for telling a story and for appreciating history. D.W. Griffith was born on January 22, 1875 near Centerfield, Ky. He had a long and prosperous career in filmmaking and has been called “the man who made Hollywood.” He died in California on July 23, 1948 from a cerebral hemorrhage. His body was brought back to Kentucky two years later and interred at Mount Tabor Methodist Church Graveyard. The Screen Actors Guild of America dedicated a monument to him at the cemetery. Other members of his family rest in the cemetery as well. One of his historic homes is located at 4th & Madison in La Grange.
For a short time, Griffith lived in a house at Fourth and Madison Streets in La Grange (1939). This is a private residence but can be viewed from the street. This historic home has been featured on several Christmas Tours of historic homes in the past.
In the heart of La Grange is the historic home where Rob Morris moved to in 1860 and lived until his death in July 1888. Located at 102 Washington Street, the home is open for tours by appointment only. Morris taught at the La Grange Masonic College, is credited as the founder of the Order of the Eastern Star and is buried in the Valley of Rest Cemetery. In 1918 the Kentucky Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star purchased the home and has since kept it as a shrine/museum to Morris. The furnishings within date from the time Morris lived in the home, some actually owned by Morris. For house tours contact (502) 222-0248 or the History Center at (502) 222-0826.
In 1799 William and Charity Boulware deeded one acre to the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Floydsburg, Ky, the present day location of Duncan Memorial Chapel. Years later in 1936-37, Alexander Duncan actually built Duncan Memorial Chapel on 16 acres of land he donated when his wife Flora died in 1936. The English Gothic architecture chapel has become renowned as a marriage chapel. In the adjoining Floydsburg Cemetery are interred the remains of many early settlers. Today, Duncan Memorial is the most rented wedding venue in the county!
Many of these buildings are featured on the annual Spirits of La Grange Ghost Tours. A walk down Main Street will reveal the site of the former Central Hotel & Peak Funeral Home (there were many hotels in La Grange at one time), The Opera House (b. 1874 by C. Sauer & Son), and the William T. Barbor House (on National Register of Historic Places – possibly the oldest remaining building in La Grange). The History Center offers special La Grange Walking Tours, which relate much of this history. La Grange is also the ONLY town in the U.S. with a freight train running on its Main Street – called a streetrunner!