On May 19, 1978, Historic Paris-Bourbon County signed its Articles of Incorporation. Membership was and is open to “any person, institution or corporation desiring to promote the objects of History Paris-Bourbon County.” Its goals were “to foster and participate in the preservation, interpretation, and welfare of the historic, architectural, scenic and culturally significant areas, districts, sites, structures, objects and activities, and to encourage the appreciation thereof by the general public.”
The first president was Mrs. Robert Van Meter, whose memory is honored each year with the Mary Spears Van Meter Dinner and an award for historic preservation in her name.
In conjunction with National Historic Site designations, members worked with Walter E. Langsam and photographer William G. Johnson in preparing Historic Architecture of Bourbon County, Kentucky, the “green book,” published in 1985.
Dorothy and Woodford Van Meter contributed an acre of land at the confluence of Houston and Stoner Creeks in 1994. HPBC has developed the land as a park where Hopewell, later called Paris was founded. Hopewell Spring is leased to the city, but owned by HPBC.
Also in 1994, the organization achieved its most significant acquisition – the 1909-1911 Beaux-Arts building at 800 Pleasant Street, which now houses the Hopewell Museum. The City of Paris sold the former Post Office and city building to HPBC, Inc. In the early 2000s HPBC and the Hopewell Board of Directors raised over $750,000 for a major restoration and renovation of the building through a matching grant from Saving America’s Treasures. New lighting and HVAC systems, as well as hardwood floors and an elevator, make the museum user-friendly to all who visit it and make it eligible to borrow from other larger entities. Materials lent by the Smithsonian Institute, J.B. Speed Museum, The Filson Historical Society, the University of Kentucky, Whitehall Shrine in Richmond and Kentucky Folk Art Center of Morehead State University have brought a variety of art to the museum.
In 1997 HPBC received a grant to evaluate restoring the Brown Hotel of North Middletown. For their efforts the organization received the President’s Award for Excellence from the Historical Confederation of Kentucky in 1997. In 1999, just after HPBC received a $136,000 grant to renovate the Brown Hotel, the building burned to the ground, and the site is now a park for the community of North Middletown, and still owned by HPBC
HPBC continues to host house tours, lectures, historical events, and to support the Hopewell Museum. In 2007 the boards of HPBC and Hopewell Museum combined their memberships and boards to better serve their members.
Who We Are:
Historic Paris-Bourbon County/Hopewell Museum is committed to sharing the history of Paris and Bourbon County through exhibits, programs, and preservation of material culture. We believe in using our history to help all learners better understand where we come from, how we got where we are, and how we can use that knowledge to confront future challenges.
HPBC and Hopewell Museum serve the geographic region of Bourbon County, its neighboring Kentucky counties, plus traveling visitors from around the world.
What We Do:
Currently, the museum features changing art & history exhibits. HPBC preservation committees offer recognition and events that showcase preservation at work in both town and country settings.
HPBC/Hopewell Museum educates and welcomes families with the Mary Spears Van Meter Learning Center. The center houses activity spaces that echo the museum’s Bourbon County History Hall and give young visitors a chance to put themselves in a small town of 100 years ago. In addition, school classes come to the museum for hands-on educational programs in our community classroom.
Bourbon County History Hall
Wander our History Hall and learn about Bourbon County , which once included much of the state of Kentucky!
Discover how the land and the people formed a community of large and small farms, communities and schools that have supported cattle, hemp, tobacco and horses for more than two centuries.
Exhibit Galleries showcase a wide variety of topics focusing on Bourbon County, the Bluegrass Region and beyond.
Throughout the year, local and regional art displays share space with heritage exhibits.
Community Gathering Space:
Our lower level community room provides meeting space along with a group eating area and classroom art tables.