Lebanon (population 5,718) was incorporated in 1815 and is the county seat of Marion County, Kentucky. Its prime location on the L & N Railroad made it a strategic target during the Civil War, and it was the site of three battles. Lebanon served as a recruiting center, a hospital center, and headquarters for the Union Army and headquarters for the Confederate Army.
Lebanon is a stop on the Civil War Discovery Trail, including the Myrtledene Bed and Breakfast, which Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan used as his headquarters while in Lebanon. Morgan burned part of the community. A number of antebellum buildings remain, however, and downtown Lebanon is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district.
The city currently is working to adapt two important historic buildings, the Lebanon Senior High School (1918) and the Lebanon Junior High School (1938), into a community center. A Community Development Block Grant planning grant of $20,000 resulted in a feasibility study for the adaptive reuse of both school buildings. Both buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Many tours in the city highlight the role Lebanon played in the Civil War. Every year, fifth grade students in Marion County receive educational tours of the community and participate in a scavenger hunt that highlights Civil War history. Volunteers give tours of historic sites in the community for the general public, including tours of the Lebanon National Cemetery, Civil War sites, and Religious Heritage sites.
“Hoofprints on the Stairs” is a musical drama of the life and times of Gen. Morgan. The musical recounts factual events surrounding him and his experiences in Lebanon through authentic and contemporary Civil War music. The show occurs during the weekends in August and is held outdoors at the Centre Square Outdoor Stage.
Designated a Preserve America Community in April 2004.
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