Kentucky’s historic places dot the landscape from Appalachia in the east to the Purchase region in the west, encompassing river towns and railroad towns, Main Streets and courthouse squares, historic neighborhoods, African American hamlets, coal mining camps and roadside architecture – urban and rural landscapes that define our sense of place and tell the story of who we are as Americans.
Just as important is Kentucky's prehistoric legacy, with Kentucky extensively occupied by Native American groups dating to 15,000 years ago. The villages, campsites and discarded artifacts of these prehistoric inhabitants may be found throughout the Commonwealth - in the agricultural region of the Purchase and Pennyrile areas, in the coal mining towns of the eastern and western coal fields, in the urban and industrial centers along the Ohio River, and in the horse farms of the Bluegrass Region.
For more than 40 years, the Kentucky Heritage Council / State Historic Preservation Office has been assisting individuals, communities and local governments with making historic preservation an important component of comprehensive community planning and economic development. Kentucky has a rich heritage expressed in its prehistoric past and in its historic buildings, sites and cultural landscapes. Making a concerted effort to preserve this heritage and the built environment is integral to building successful, thriving communities.
As set forth by federal and state legislation, the Kentucky Heritage Council is charged with identifying, preserving and protecting the historic resources of Kentucky. The Heritage Council has successfully encouraged the adaptive reuse of historic buildings in all contexts and advocated that historic preservation should be a key public policy initiative to:
- Encourage economic development
- Provide affordable housing
- Revitalize downtowns and neighborhoods
- Provide life-long learning opportunities
- Enhance Kentucky’s quality of life
Additionally, as an agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Heritage Council has consistently and successfully partnered with other agencies, local governments, preservation and community organizations and individuals to achieve this mission.