Murray, Kentucky, (population 14,950) was first settled approximately in 1818. It was at one time part of land encompassing Marshall County but now is the county seat of Calloway County. The soil in the Murray area was particularly fertile and led to the growth of the tobacco industry. During the Civil War, the town was the home to both Confederate and Union troops. Much of the downtown was burned during the Civil War, and a series of later fires shaped the physical development of downtown.
Many historic buildings remain, however, and in 2003 the Murray Commercial Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. That year, the city also adopted its first historic preservation ordinance.
The Wrather West Kentucky Museum is housed on the campus of Murray State University. It is housed in the first permanent building constructed on the MSU campus, which is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum highlights and promotes the social, cultural, and economic development of West Kentucky and the Jackson Purchase. The Pogue Special Collections Library is a collection of materials relating to the history and culture of Western Kentucky, including materials on the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Civil War, and local history. The library is housed in a Renaissance Revival structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Murray recently undertook a major streetscaping project Downtown, including new lawn areas, lamp posts, and brick walls. New banners are featured on lamp posts Downtown advertising the Saturday Farmer’s Market. The streetscape project was coordinated by Murray Main Street and received the Best Streetscape project by the Kentucky Main Street Program in 2002. As part of the project, Murray Main Street sold engraved bricks to honor citizens, veterans, or businesses in the community.
Playhouse in the Park is the community theater organization in Murray. Housed in a 1907 train depot, the playhouse produces year-round theatrical performances, including musicals, children’s shows, dramas, and original works.
Designated a Preserve America Community in April 2004.