Henderson, Kentucky, (population 27,373) was founded in 1797 and is located in western Kentucky on the Ohio River. The land Henderson occupies was deeded in 1778 to the Richard Henderson Land Company by the state of Virginia. Henderson was incorporated as a town in 1810 and reached status as a city in 1868.
The community has five historic districts and several farms listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and its prosperity as an export center for dark tobacco in the 19th century is reflected in its historic mansions overlooking the river.
Henderson’s most famous historical inhabitant was the noted naturalist John James Audubon, who was attracted by Henderson’s wooded hills and lush vegetation. Today, the Audubon State Park is the home to the John James Audubon Museum, holding an extensive collection of Audubon’s works. Located in various areas in the Henderson downtown district are sculptures of Audubon’s paintings published in The Birds of America. The Downtown Henderson Project, the Renaissance Kentucky Program, and the City of Henderson contributed to have the sculptures designed and produced for the city.
The city’s Main Street program has a House Doctor program, which brings a historical architect to Henderson to help homeowners solve preservation problems. Participants pay a nominal fee and describe problems they are having prior to the architect’s visit. Each visit by the “House Doctor” lasts approximately 30-45 minutes, allowing residents to ask questions and receive feedback on their house problems.
The Preservation Gallery program is held in conjunction with the Downtown Henderson Project Annual Awards Banquet. The Preservation Gallery includes tradesmen that discuss different aspects of historic preservation. This includes masonry professionals, paint companies, and workshops on how to restore historic windows.
The W.C. Handy Blues and Barbeque Festival is an annual event in Henderson that celebrates the life and legacy of Henderson resident and “Father of the Blues,” William Christopher Handy. The festival includes national and local blues talent. The festival opens with the “Taste of Henderson Barbecue,” where local teams produce and sell barbeque. The festival is free to participants and is hosted by the Henderson Music Preservation Society, Inc.
Designated a Preserve America Community in April 2004.