KENTUCKY DAUGHTERS' STATE HEADQUARTERS
This inn (and later tavern) is constructed of native limestone, has twenty rooms, and is three stories high. Joseph Duncan, an officer in the Revolutionary War, built it in 1788, four years before Kentucky received her statehood from Virginia.The sign above the building read, "The Goddess of Liberty."
Among the frontiersmen extended hospitality were Daniel Boone; Simon Kenton; Michael Stoner; James Smith, "first rebel of the Revolution;" John Edwards, first United States Senator, who was one of the two sent from Kentucky; Aaron Burr and hundreds of others who came in their strength with ax and rifle to conquer a wilderness.
The rich timber resources of that early day made possible the use of the finest hardwoods of the forests. At Duncan Tavern, oak and ash girders, beams, and joists have given lasting support and ribbing to the structure. Huge sleepers, after 222 years, retain their original bark and are as sound as the day they were lifted into place; the laths are hand-split hickory, the blue ash floors show their antiquity but are still in good condition. The heavy doors have original antique locks of great interest, both English and early American. There are hand-carved mantels and stone fireplaces where heroes of long ago gathered to recount their services for the cause of liberty or lament the massacre at Blue Licks, the last battle of the Revolution, which was suffered only six years before Duncan Tavern's construction, on the famous old Limestone (Buffalo Trace) Road.
About 1800, Major Duncan died, leaving a young widow, Anne, and six small children. At first Mrs. Duncan attempted to operate the inn, but in 1803, she leased it to John Porter of Virginia. Between these dates, she built a home flush against her tavern wall. This house was made of log construction and clapboarded; years later the facade was replaced with stone. Here she reared her children and diligently saved for their education. It was not until 1815, when a final settlement of the estate of Joseph Duncan was recorded, that we read all of the children were born in Duncan Tavern, raised there, and went out to serve as officers in the War of 1812. These Duncans became distinguished citizens in the building of the young republic.
In 1940, after years of continuous service, this historic old inn had reached such a state of dilapidation that plans were being made to tear it down to make way for city offices. A movement was initiated to save it and the city of Paris agreed to present it to the Kentucky Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, provided that organization restore it as a shrine and maintain it as state headquarters. Reconditioning started at once and today it stands in all its original stalwart beauty and is visited by tourists from all parts of the nation and many foreign lands.
Currently, Duncan Tavern Historic Center includes an in-house Museum with a collection of the finest early American and early Kentucky furnishings; portraits, dishware, and personal artifacts, available for viewing; and the extensive research material collection of the John Fox, Jr. Genealogical Library.
Duncan Tavern, located at 323 High Street in Paris, Kentucky, is open to the public April through mid December, from 10 am - Noon and 1 - 4 pm every Tuesday thru Saturday. Tours are conducted Wednesday through Saturday at 1:30 PM and by appointment by calling (859) 987-1788.
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