County Historical Society Gala
Brown to be recognized
for Oldham County connections
are active in
preservation and development
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky. Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson
take pride in their communitys history and want to leave behind
something for future generations to honor. Through their many civic
preservation and conservation efforts, the couple has created a legacy
for Oldham County.
Brown and Wilson were chosen to receive the 2011 J. Chilton Barnett
Champion of Oldham County History Award. Their endeavors make them an
important part of Oldham Countys past, present and future. The
award will be presented Friday, Sept. 23, as the highlight of the 10th
annual Oldham County Historical Society Gala.
Wilson, 63, was actually surprised to find out they would be receiving
the award because weve been very busy with projects outside
of the area and have been away from Oldham County in a sense,
he said. He suggested they were nominated by neighbors because of the
hard work Wilson and Brown have put into restoring their property, Woodland
Wilson and Laura Lee Brown
operate a bison farm in Goshen and
recently bought Hermitage Farm.
The couple stared the KY Bison Co. in 1996 when they purchased
the farm. A lot of work was necessary to restore Woodland Farm to working
conditions. They studied up-and-coming enterprises in agriculture to
see best how to use the farm land.
They decided to raise bison. Brown was attracted by the healthy aspects
of the low-fat, low-cholesterol meat. The idea of raising an ecologically
friendly and historical species appealed to Wilson. They ordered 25
buffalo calves from Custer State Park in South Dakota and as the herd
grew, they knew they were on to something.
Kentucky has a great tradition of agriculture and history that
I think is important to preserve and its also important to the
economy of our state, said Brown, 70. If we dont support
our farmers and leave them with land to grow food on, we will be reduced
to having all of our food come from commercial operations, which do
not take time to provide us with healthy food.
Nancy Theiss, executive director of the Oldham County Historical Society,
said, Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson were chosen to receive
the Champion of History Award because of their commitment to conservation
of cultural and natural history in Oldham County.
Brown grew up in Prospect, and Wilson was reared in Wickliffe, 1 1/2
hours from Paducah. Both were raised on farms.
They have been supporters of the Oldham County Historical Society for
the past several years, said Brown. They once put up an exhibition of
The Gala will be held on the grounds of the Oldham County History Center
at 106 N. Second St. in La Grange. It is open to the public. A reception
with an open bar begins at 6 p.m. Dinner, catered by Ladyfingers Catering,
will begin at 7:30 p.m.; a silent auction will continue through dinner.
The award program will follow with a live auction wrapping up the evening.
Tickets are $125 per person.
Historical Society Gala
Sept. 23 with 6 p.m. reception; 7:30 p.m. dinner at the Oldham
County History Center, 106 N. Second Ave., La Grange, Ky.
Tickets $125 per person. To reserve, call (502) 222-0826
Brown and Wilson were founding members of Oldham Ahead
and helped develop the Brownsboro Plan to create a conservation district
that allows for responsible development and is environmentally sensitive.
We have helped to implement this project and hope that it acts
as an example for others, said Brown.
The couple are also huge supporters of Oldham County Greenways Inc.
They purchased Woodland Farm, which is on the National Register of Historic
Places, and put it into a conservation easement. We also bought
the storied Hermitage Farm to protect and add to its equine heritage,
Hermitage is important to us, and we think to most people in Oldham
County because it represents the horse industry in a wonderful way,
said Wilson. Laura Lee and I hope to re-establish Hermitage as
a successful equine center.
Wilson said, Our work on Hermitage farm is going to take several
years. He said they have hosted a charrette of architects and
are working with an equine development consultant.
Weve given ourselves three more years to finish our Master
Plan, said Wilson. In the meantime, were developing
an International Training Center for driving horses. The couple
will play host to an annual driving competition on Sept. 24-25.
By purchasing two historic farms, Woodland Farms and Hermitage, they
are committed to the preservation of those places, said
Theiss. They have spent a lot of time and money on both to make
them places that are preserved for future generations of Oldham County
They are well-known in the Louisville area as well. They founded 21c
Museum Hotel in 2006, which has become a nationally recognized destination
and market leader in the hospitality industry in Louisville.
For more information on Gala, contact the
Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826.
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