First settled in 1789, Marion County was later named after Revolutionary War General Francis Marion in 1834. Marion County is also a center of Kentucky history, found in such places as the Holy Cross Church, which dates back to 1823, and the Loretto Motherhouse, dating back to 1812.

Marion County is also home to Maker’s Mark Distillery, a National Historic Landmark that continues to produce the world-famous Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky. The Maker’s Mark Distillery, with its cypress vats dating back at least 100 years, is the only continuously operating distillery in America to be named a National Historic Landmark. Established in 1840, some of its buildings date from the 19th century, have been lovingly restored, and are open for free tours.

In the 1860’s, Lebanon was a crucial location on the L&N Railroad and the scene of considerable Civil War activity. It served as a recruiting center, a hospital center, headquarters for the Union Army and headquarters for the Confederate Army.

Lebanon, the county seat, was incorporated as a city on January 28, 1815, and because of its superior style and beauty, elegant homes and flourishing businesses, it had the reputation of being Kentucky’s Philadelphia and was considered for the site of the state capitol.

During the Civil War, General John Hunt Morgan’s Raiders descended on Lebanon, and after Morgan’s brother, Tom, was killed during a battle, the raiders burned much of the town in retribution. Even though twenty buildings were destroyed in the attack, Lebanon recovered, and more recently the downtown historic district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Also, our Historic Homes and Landmarks Tour is part of the Kentucky’s Civil War Heritage Trail and includes twenty-four listings.

  • Civil War Park

    The Lebanon Civil War Park depicts Major Gen. George H. Thomas, the “Rock of Chickamauga,” who led Union forces from Lebanon to Mill Springs in January 1862 for the first major Civil War battle in Kentucky.

  • Historic Penn’s Store

    257 Penn's Store Road Gravel Switch, KY
    Lebanon KY


  • Holy Cross Church

    3560 N. St. Francis Rd.
    Loretto KY 40037

    In 1785, a “league” of 60 families was formed in Maryland, all Catholics, and mostly from St. Mary’s County, each one of whom pledged to emigrate to Kentucky within a specified period of time. Their primary purpose of settling together was to secure as soon as possible the advantages of a pastorate and a church. […]

  • John Hunt Morgan Trail

    This state-wide trail makes a path through the heart of Lebanon. The residence at Holly Hill Inn, one of Lebanon’s historic landmarks, was known for years as “Sunnyside,” It’s the site where Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s brother, Tom Morgan, laid in state after falling in a battle in Lebanon July 5, 1863. He was […]

  • Kentucky Cooperage

    A century ago, a hardworking man named T.W. Boswell came to the rugged land of the Missouri Ozarks to develop a working stave mill at the crossroads of white oak country. The year was 1912. In those days, saws at the mills were powered by steam engines. Mills were portable, moving from forest to forest […]

  • Lebanon National Cemetery

    20 Highway 208
    Lebanon KY 40033

    “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” – Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address – 1865 The land for the Lebanon National Cemetery was purchased by the U.S. government in 1862, but it was not designated a national cemetery until 1867. By that time, the cemetery […]

  • Maker’s Mark Distillery

    It’s more than your average bourbon distillery! This unique landmark is a historical treasure, with buildings dating back to the early 1800’s. It’s the only operating distillery in America to be designated a National Historic Landmark (1980). Originally built in 1805 as a gristmill distillery, the property became the home of Maker’s Mark in 1953.

  • Marion County Heritage Center, featuring the Turtleman Exhibit

    120 W. Main St. 3rd Floor
    Lebanon KY 40033

    Come learn about Marion County, from the history of this incredible region to the people who helped shape it. Featuring a brand new Turtleman exhibit, with set and cut-out for photo ops!

  • Myrtledene

    This home was built in 1833 by Benedict Spalding, recognized as the founder of Lebanon. He purchased about 400 acres from William Parris, pioneer operator of a tavern on the National Turnpike, which extended from Limestone (modern Maysville) to Nashville and passed through Lebanon. Spalding paid Parris a dollar an acre for the land.

  • Self-guided Historic Homes & Landmarks Tour

    Lebanon is located along Scenic Highway & Byway U.S. 68, the historic trail used by such figures as Andrew Jackson, Jane Todd Crawford and General Lafayette. Known for its richCivil War heritage, a self-guided Historic Homes & Landmarks Tour offers a significant glimpse at this town where the Civil War delivered a severe blow. Brochures […]

  • Sisters of Loretto Motherhouse

    515 Nerinx Rd, Nerinx, KY 40049
    Lebanon KY

    Founded on the Kentucky frontier in 1812, the first sisters dedicated their lives to God as religious women and educated poor children of the area. They derived strength from communal living and prayer. From Hardin’s Creek, the Loretto commitment to education spread to 16 states and on to China, Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Africa. The […]

  • William Clark Quantrill Trail

    The William Clark Quantrill Trail is the site of one of the most vicious renegade raids of all time. Posing as a Union soldier at times, Quantrill murdered and pillaged along with the James Brothers. FREE.