Springfield, Kentucky, (population 2,634) developed around a ferry that carried travelers across the Beech Fork River in 1783. Springfield is the county seat of Washington County, the first county created by the Kentucky state legislature and is named after President George Washington. During the Civil War, both Union and Confederate troops passed through Springfield on the way to the Battle of Perryville. Springfield is the gateway community for Lincoln Homestead State Park, which is the site of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood home and the blacksmith and carpentry shops where he worked.
Springfield hosted the Bicentennial Celebration of the marriage of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks in 2008 as part of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial in 2009. One day of the event featured a variety of living history interpreters who portrayed characters during the period of the wedding. Additionally, activities revolving around early 18th century life were featured, including blacksmithing, log cabin construction, silhouette cutting, and shoemaking.
The rehabilitation of the Opera House (c. 1900) in Springfield was the result of city, state, and federal funds. The original Opera House auditorium is located on the second floor of the structure and features a 3,000 square food auditorium, host to a variety of concerts, comedians, and theater performances. The first floor features the Springfield/Washington County Economic Development Authority, Springfield Main Street, and the chamber of commerce. By housing all the economic development agencies in one structure it will assist in communication and collaboration between the three agencies. The structure also houses a welcome center and craft market.
The Main Street District contains six structures that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, including the 1816 courthouse that is still in use. Another is the home of the minister who united Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, parents of Abraham Lincoln. The Mt. Zion Covered Bridge is also listed in the National Register and is one of the longest, multi-span covered bridges in Kentucky.
The African American Heritage Festival honors prominent African Americans with ties to Springfield. Previous honorees include Louis Sansberry, Ed Polin, Joe Walker, and Springfield veterans and athletes. Other events in Springfield include the Kentucky Crossroads Harvest Festival and the Sorghum and Tobacco Festival.
Designated a Preserve America Community in April 2004.