Oldham County Historical Society Gala

Wilson, Brown to be recognized
for Oldham County connections

They are active in
preservation and development

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. – Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson take pride in their community’s 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 County’s 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 “we’ve 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 Farm.

Steve Wilson & Laura Lee Brown

Photo provided

Steve 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 it’s also important to the economy of our state,” said Brown, 70. “If we don’t 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 their bison.
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.

Oldham County
Historical Society Gala

• Friday, 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,” said Brown.
“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.
“We’ve given ourselves three more years to finish our Master Plan,” said Wilson. “In the meantime, we’re 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 citizens.”
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.

Back to September 2011 Articles.



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