History Of Hopemont, The Hunt-Morgan House
Hopemont, the Hunt-Morgan House, closed for the regular tour season on October 29 and will re-open for tours on March 30, 2018. During the off-season, tours are by appointment only by calling the BGT at (859) 253-0362.
During the tour season, dates and hours are: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 1-4 pm, and on Saturday from 10 am - 3 pm. All tours begin on the hour. 2017 Prices: $10 per person; $8 for AAA, military and senior; and $5 for students and groups. Please call ahead for group tours and Saturday tours, as there are often private events at the house.
For group tours, rentals, and tours by appointment in the off-season, please call the Blue Grass Trust at (859) 253-0362.
Completed in 1814 for John Wesley Hunt, Hopemont stands as a reminder of early-19th century Lexington when the city was known as "The Athens of the West." The house, situated on the southwestern corner of Gratz Park, is in the Federal style and exhibits elegant proportions and remarkable craftsmanship. Hopemont's entryway, perhaps its most striking feature, is flanked by leaded side lights and topped by a large, leaded elliptical fanlight. A Palladian window centered above the entryway punctuates the primary façade at the second level. In 1955, The Foundation for the Preservation of Historic Lexington and Fayette County, which later became the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation, was formed to save the house from impending demolition. The organization restored the dwelling to its 1814 appearance and now operates it as a museum and event rental space.
The house museum offers a tangible link to the past, through which visitors are able to learn about the highs and lows of Lexington's history. The museum's collection of early Kentucky furniture, antique porcelain, and 19th century paintings conveys the status and tastes of the Hunt and Morgan families. Hopemont's rooms are furnished with articles of the period as well as those owned by the families. The Alexander T. Hunt Civil War Museum, located on the second floor, features an extensive collection of Civil War relics and memorabilia.
THE HUNT-MORGAN FAMILY
The Hunt-Morgan family of Central Kentucky ranks as one of the region's most historic, producing the first millionaire west of the Allegheny Mountains, a Civil War brigadier general, and Kentucky’s first Nobel Prize winner.
During the early history of the nation, John Wesley Hunt became a leading landowner and businessman in Kentucky and one of the wealthiest men in the western part of the country. His business empire included interests in banking, horse breeding, agriculture, and hemp manufacturing. Among his business associates were Henry Clay and John Jacob Astor.
Confederate General John Hunt Morgan was known as either “the Thunderbolt of the Confederacy” by those sympathetic to the South's cause, or "the King of the Horse Thieves” by those who supported the Union. Legends abound of his exploits, from his dramatic escape from a federal prison to a ride through Hopemont on horseback to kiss his mother goodbye.
Dr. Thomas Hunt Morgan brought international fame to the family and the Bluegrass by becoming the first Kentuckian to win a Nobel Prize. Morgan graduated in 1886 from the State College of Kentucky, later the University of Kentucky, and received his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. He co-authored The Mechanics of Mendelian Heredity, which established the fruit fly as the model agent for the study of genetics. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1933.
The Alexander T. Hunt Civil War Museum
The Alexander T. Hunt Civil War Museum, located on the second floor of Hopemont, features an extensive collection of Civil War relics and memorabilia for educational purposes.