Our Inn’s History

Bourbon Manor has not always been an award-winning bed and breakfast inn. This historic property in Bardstown, KY has quite a colorful history dating back to the 18th century.

In the late 1770’s, early Kentucky pioneer settler Colonel Samuel Bealmear received 3,000 as a land grant due to his rank and service in the Revolutionary War. The land  surrounded “Colonel James Roger’s (Fort) Station,” established in 1780. Colonel Bealmear’s oldest daughter, Ruth and her husband, Joseph Brown were gifted 950 acres (of the original 3,000 Bealmear homestead), along with construction of their first home, presently known as Bourbon Manor’s Federal House Cottage, circa 1810 – as the wedding gift from her parents. Thanks to their agricultural success with tobacco and hemp farming, as well as their well-known swine operation, producing cured country hams that supplied the fine southern hotels downtown Louisville, the couple was able to build the stately Greek Revival Manor, circa 1820-1823, and officially named “Oaklawn Plantation.” The architect of the Manor was Joseph’s brother, James Marshall Brown, an apprentice under highly-regarded Baltimore Architect, John Rogers. He was one of the original architects of the White House in Washington D.C. He was encouraged to come to Bardstown, Kentucky by U.S. Senator John Rowan, who saw the grand mansions that were being built in our nation’s capital. John Rogers is credited for such fine historic structures as Federal Hill, circa 1816-1818 (My Old Kentucky Home), Wickland, circa 1816-1820 (Home of 3 Governors), and the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral, circa 1816-1819 – all beautiful, grand architectural gems located in Bardstown. 

During the Civil War, the Manor’s cupola was used as a lookout point and the Mansion  served as Headquarters to Confederate Major General William J. Hardee, September and October 1862, involving 28,000 troops, leading up to the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky’s bloodiest battle during the Civil War. After that battle, homes and churches were converted to field hospitals for the 7,500 troops that were lost or wounded, including the Manor. 

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Originally referred to as Oaklawn Plantation, the large solid-brick house features a full basement with foundations made of large, native limestone blocks. Each wall is four rows of brick thick; each brick having been made on the property by the plantation’s slave labor. The outside walls are topped with a wide, flat wooden cornice of detailed dentil moldings. On top of the handsome building rests a rectangular cupola with large, square windows and a beautiful modillion cornice. The cupola was originally meant for use for security lookout, overseeing farm workers, and to watch the weather.

Inside, the building’s interior is divided into four 19′ x 19′ square rooms on the second and third levels. The entrance is punctuated by a gorgeous cantilevered spiral staircase which opens onto the second story before continuing to the attic.

The property has been home to many prominent families of Nelson County for over 200 years. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Kentucky Landmark having historical and architectural significance.

During the American Civil War years, it was occupied by Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s brigade of 16,000 which settled around Bardstown for 2-3 weeks. The Manor served as headquarters for Major General William J. Hardee, who served under General Bragg. Shortly after the Confederates left, the home was then occupied by Union Troops as they headed through Bardstown toward Perryville. Both sides clashed in Perryville, which became the site of Kentucky’s bloodiest battle with 7500 wounded or lost lives.

Throughout the years, the Manor has been a private residence, a boarding home during the Great Depression, divided into apartment units, and operated as a Bed & Breakfast for more than 25 years. It has been featured in countless media articles in leading publications and awarded many accolades including Top B&B in Kentucky, Country Inn of the Month, and The New York Times named it as “a stylish place to stay while touring the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.” Several renovations have preserved the Manor, including its most recent $250,000 restoration by new owners/innkeepers Todd Allen and Tyler Horton. We invite you to visit and experience firsthand this special place known as Bourbon Manor.