May 13, 2022

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Fascinating book reveals the "secrets" and history of our Duncan Tavern!

New Duncan Tavern history reveals Kentucky’s rich early life

By Judy Owens
Public Relations Chairman Kentucky Society, DAR

Back in 1940, the derelict boarding house at 323 High Street in Paris looked like a great place for a parking lot, in the eyes of the Bourbon Fiscal Court. When Julia Ardery, avid history researcher and wife of a Bourbon County judge, looked at the same property, she saw the county’s oldest stone building and visualized a centerpiece for preserving the heritage of Paris.

Through her determination, Julia Ardery bent the destiny of Duncan Tavern to her will.

Eighty years have passed since Mrs. Ardery convinced the county to sell Duncan Tavern for one dollar. A year later, the Kentucky Society, Daughters of the American Revolution took possession. Every KSDAR administration since then has repaired, restored and adored the building, showering it with attention, elbow grease and historic artifacts.

For the first time, a concise, well researched and beautifully illustrated booklet chronicling the history of Duncan Tavern is available.

The full-color publication, simply entitled “Duncan Tavern Historic Center,” was published to coincide with the first virtual State Conference of the Kentucky Society, Daughters of the American Revolution.

“Maintaining Duncan Tavern Historic Center is the sacred obligation of every state regent of KSDAR,” said Carol Rogow, current State Regent. “I am so proud of this excellent history of our state headquarters.” Proceeds from the sale of the booklet will benefit the Tavern.

The Tavern has been open for tours and events since 2004. But it was the immediate past administration that took a deep dive into the history of the building. A team including past State Regent Leslie Miller; Lynne Hollingsworth, retired manuscripts archivist from the Kentucky Historical Society and Selene Hutchinson, Duncan Tavern site coordinator started questioning some of the received history of the building. Using modern research methods, these women unearthed a richer, more authentically Kentucky story. Julie Payne, a private art dealer who specializes in Kentucky artwork, volunteered to photograph and stage the rooms according to the newly-discovered facts about the tavern.

Duncan Tavern Historic Center was built around 1792 and is one of the finest examples in Kentucky of an eighteenth century early settlement building used as a tavern. Unlike many historic properties like Monticello and Mt. Vernon, the Tavern’s history is not driven by a single personality. Instead, the Tavern reflects early Kentucky life: a private residence of an iron worker, a tavern complete with boarding rooms and a ballroom and a home for a Connecticut transplant who lost a son at the Battle of Shiloh.

“My hope with the project was to connect all KSDAR members with the treasure they own and operate, and to inspire them to support our historic preservation mission and our ongoing efforts,” said Mrs. Miller, who now serves as the National Chairman of the National Society, DAR’s historic preservation committee.

The book is on sale at the Duncan Tavern gift shop for $20, plus $1.20 in Kentucky state sales tax. For shipping in Kentucky, please contact: duncantavern@att.net or call (859) 987-1788. “After an order is placed, you will be notified the total amount due, which includes

shipping. Upon receipt of payment, your order will be shipped. If you want to pick up your order at Duncan Tavern, you may do so,” said Mary Ann Hayes, Duncan Tavern Chairman.

Unfortunately the booklet cannot be shipped to out-of-state customers.

Beginning April 7, Duncan Tavern is open to the public Wednesday – Saturday. The hours are as follows: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Group orders of the Duncan Tavern Historic Center booklet are appreciated.

Last updated August 2022.