BARDSTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) -- Travel just a little to the south of Louisville and you'll find Bardstown. It's a place filled with history. WDRB's Chris Sutter is showing us what makes it a unique place to visit.
Of course, nearly everyone knows Bardstown is the bourbon capital of the world, but it was also recently named the most beautiful small town in America. No tour of Bardstown would be complete without visiting a place where the sun always shines bright: My Old Kentucky Home.
Judge John Rowan built what was a stately plantation in Nelson County on Federal Hill in the early 1800s. But it's what one famous guest reportedly did there that's given it its claim to fame.
The state song "My Old Kentucky Home" tugs at the heart of every Kentuckian. It's a song we sing on the first Saturday in May before the Kentucky Derby, and at college basketball games.
But some people (none of whom are from Bardstown), might be surprised to hear that "My Old Kentucky Home" isn't just a song: it's an actual place. In fact, there's a whole park dedicated to it in Nelson County.
Rowan built the house in 1818, and composer Stephen Foster was just one of the prominent guests believed to have walked its hallways.
"Just coming here, you get that nostalgic feel,"
Judge Rowan's plantation is now a park, but he's not the guy behind our state song, though. He was busy becoming a founding father of the University of Louisville.
It was Foster, a Pennsylvania composer, who wrote classics like "Oh Susanna," "Beautiful Dreamer," and "Swanee River."
Tour guides guides look the part and wear clothing from the period. They say wearing the costume helps get them into the mindset of how things really were back then.
Right now, there are 10 tours a day. Coming soon: a Civil War tour in September, and a Mourning Tour in October, to explain some of the unexpected occurrences in the home.
One tour guide says she was dusting an upstairs bedroom when she heard someone say, "mama."
Also coming soon: a Mint Julep tour -- tasting included.
Old roots with some new twists to remind Kentuckians where they came from. If you'd like to take a tour of My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown, click here.
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