A short term exhibit featuring information about an 19th century tavern that once sat in Mason County is currently on display at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center in Maysville.
The exhibit features information about an archaeological dig in which Orloff Miller and his crew discovered evidence of a 19th century tavern that once sat near the Fleming-Mason Airport.
The former tavern was discovered in 2016 by Miller and his crew.
When visiting the Wormald building at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center, it is best to experience the newest exhibit by walking clockwise through the room.
“Walking clockwise through the exhibit, you can see how the information becomes more advanced and in depth,” Miller said. “The back area is for people who are really interested-who got sucked into what’s happening.”
Guests entering the building are greeted with an introduction giving some history about the tavern. Moving on, patrons can read about the importance of taverns during that time.
“We wanted to dispel the myth of the tavern that was nothing but alcohol and full of cowboys,” Miller said. “Taverns at that time were important — they were a place where people could stay for the night. It was half-way house for travelers.”
The introduction also gives a list of rates for things like rum, brandy, food and lodging for people and horses.
“There were a lot of regulations taverns had to follow,” Liz Miller said. ” If they didn’t follow them, they could be fined extraordinary amounts of money — $100 or more — which was a lot of money then.”
Next to the introduction is a timeline of events for the tavern, beginning from the first mention in 1807 to the purchase by the Fleming-Mason Airport in 2016.
“People like to have family names attached to information,” Miller said. “In this timeline, you can see when the tavern was first referenced to the fire that destroyed it in 1901. You can see who has owned it throughout the years.”
Moving on through the exhibit is more information on what happened to the tavern throughout the later years.
“It went through a period of decline in the later years,” Orloff Miller said. “Some of it was because taverns in general had less prestige later in the century.”
A portion of the exhibit shows what was found during the dig. That information includes sketches of the houses that had been on the property and artifacts.
One of the boards shows how the fire that destroyed the tavern, burned so hot it scorched layers of the earth beneath it.
The final part of the exhibit (or beginning if it catches the eye) is a case of artifacts and a sign that reads: Why is there so much evidence of ladies underwear?
Beneath the question is an explanation of why the case is filled with fasteners, safety pins and hook sets, but can only be found by visiting the exhibit.
All that remains of the tavern today is a spring house, according to Orloff Miller.
“That would have been a signal to people that they could stop there, water their horses and find a place to sleep,” he said.
The exhibit will remain on display until Sept. 22. On Sept. 15, a Saturday Seminar will be held at 10:30 a.m., during which Orloff Miller will present his findings of the dig to the public.
The KYGMC is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $2 for students.