Bardstown Things to Do: 2 Historical Churches and Cathedrals

Many people who travel to Kentucky will make a point to visit Bardstown. Things to do in Bardstown range from shopping and dining to visiting museums and historical sites. If you are one of those who are interested in architecture and history, you should visit some of the old churches and cathedrals in the town. BB Online recommends these 2 Bardstown churches.

Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral
310 West Stephen Foster Avenue
Bardstown, Kentucky 40004
(502) 348-3126

The basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral is one of the most visited religious structures in historic Bardstown. This magnificent cathedral was constructed between 1816 and 1819 by Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget, and it is presently regarded as an important national landmark by the US Library of Congress. It is one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in the western region of the Allegheny Mountains. The church building was designed by Baltimore architect John Rogers, and it was built with bricks that were baked on site as well as tree trunks from nearby forests, which were used as columns to support the building. The inhabitants of the town contributed to the building of the church by contributing materials while masons and carpenters helped with the construction work.

Some of the decorative pieces and paintings in the cathedral were donated by King Louis-Philippe of France, Pope Leo XII, King of Two Sicilies, Francis I and other notables. The King of France gifted a number of fine paintings by famous artists such as Rubens, Van Dyke, Murillo and Van Bree. The cathedral complex is also home to the Spalding Hall, where the Bardstown Historical Museum is located, as well as the Flaget Hall, which was formerly St. Joseph College. Presently, it serves as a parish for close to 5,000 individuals and 2,000 families, and it is one of the largest parishes in the Louisville Archdiocese. The church also operates the St. Joseph Elementary School and the Bethlehem High School.

Guided tours are availabl from the beginning of April to the end of October. The Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral is located in the historic district, and it should be easily accessible from your Bardstown Inn.

Saint Thomas Parish
870 Saint Thomas Lane
Bardstown, Kentucky 40004
(502) 348-3717

The Saint Thomas Parish is known as the "cradle of Catholicism" in the state of Kentucky. It was established in 1816, and it was initially used as a seminary for students as well as a parish for worshippers. The church served as the regional diocese until construction of the St. Joseph Cathedral was finished in 1819. It is a simple brick building that features an arch doorway and one statue on each side of its fa├žade. Just beside the church, there is a house called the Bishop Flaget Log House, which is the former residence of Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget. The house was built about 20 years before the church building. Today, the Saint Thomas Parish has more than 450 registered families, and it is open for tourist visits as well. You can ask the staff at your Bardstown Bed and Breakfast for directions to this historic church.