Best Places to Live

Danville, KY

Population: 17,443
Photo: Heart of Danville

Danville, KY's preservation efforts received national attention in 2001, when the National Trust for Historic Preservation presented the town with a Great American Main Street Award. The award honored the work of volunteers and city officials who came together to rehabilitate and beautify parts of downtown. A collective $52 million was spent on renovation and preservation in the 1990s and has paid off with 110 new businesses opening and the creation of more than 300 new jobs.

Among the biggest preservation projects in Danville was the restoration of three historic buildings known as The Hub. These connected buildings were used as a department store from 1914 to 1995. After extensive renovations, the buildings house a coffee shop, bookstore for Centre College and doctors' offices. Main Street has become a vibrant shopping district in Danville, and a change in the city's alcohol law led to the opening of several new restaurants, wine shops and bars.

City ordinances offer protection to buildings in a historic district and one street. There are five residential districts on the National Register of Historic Places.

"We have many people and businesses that have moved here recently," says MaryJo Joseph, chairman of Danville's Historic Committee. "I don't think any of them would have come if we didn't have a healthy downtown. That is what I think draws people here."

Joseph, who is also a real estate agent, says many people want to live in old downtown buildings. She says residents are committed to preserving the historic look the town has. The Heart of Danville, a group formed in 1984, advocates for the protection of historic buildings and maintaining a vibrant central business district. Danville's architecture is primarily in the Victorian style. A popular destination for history lovers is Constitution Square, where there is a mixture of actual historic buildings and replicas. Among the historic buildings is a post office that was built in the 1700s. October 2012 marks the 150th anniversary of the Perryville Battlefield near Danville.

Number of Properties on the National Register of Historic Places (including districts): 61


• 2001 Great American Main Street, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Historic Landmarks: Constitution Square State Historic Site (1937), Jacobs Hall (1857), McDowell House (1795)