Cynthiana, Kentucky (population 6,258) was chartered as the county seat of Harrison County in 1793, built on the land of early settler Robert Harrison, and named for his daughters Cynthia and Anna. Several outstanding examples of Federal-style architecture have survived from the community’s earliest years, and there are an exceptional number of mid-19th century buildings with cast iron storefronts. Cynthiana has the second-largest collection of such extant storefronts in Kentucky.
Battles were fought at Cynthiana twice during the Civil War, and the Cynthiana Chamber of Commerce has developed a driving tour of associated sites. For the past several years, reenactments of the battles have been held. Other annual community events include Museum Grist Mill Day at the Cynthiana-Harrison County Museum and Raggedy Ann Day, which recognizes Cynthiana’s association with the family of the famous doll’s creator, Johnny Gruelle.
Cynthiana’s historic downtown is listed as a historic district in the National Register of Historic Places. The city used federal transportation enhancement funds to enhance the downtown with new streetscape improvements. Harrison County received transportation enhancement funds to rehabilitate the historic Harrison County Jail (1889) as a tourism center. Cynthiana participates in the Kentucky Main Street Program and the Renaissance Kentucky Program.
The Cynthiana-Harrison County Museum is housed in a historic theater in Cynthiana. Displays document Cynthiana and Harrison County history of education, military, agriculture, industry, religion, and medicine. The museum also includes scale models of the city of Cynthiana.
Designated a Preserve America Community in April 2004.