Warsaw (population approximately 1,800), the county seat of Gallatin County, began on the banks of the Ohio River around 1800. The community grew into a busy port with river as well as overland trade after its founder, Colonel Robert Johnson, built a road connecting “Great Landing,” as it was first called, to the Bluegrass Region. Later named Fredericksburg, its name changed yet again in 1831, when the community applied for a post office and learned that there was another Kentucky town with the same name. The name Warsaw was taken from a popular book of the time, Thaddeus of Warsaw.
After several decades, Warsaw’s growth slowed when the railroad bypassed the town in the 1860s. In the 20th century, Interstate 71 also sidestepped the city, but with more positive results. Ease of access to the suburbs of Boone County to the east and steel plants along the Ohio River to the west, has brought new development to Warsaw. But Warsaw is working to ensure that its heritage as a picturesque river town remains intact.
The downtown Warsaw Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The Warsaw Renaissance on Main Committee has organized a plaque program that offers installation of custom plaques for each contributing historic building in the district. The Committee also administers a program to encourage district property owners to purchase period-appropriate benches, trashcans, and other streetscape elements.
Beautification Awards for the historic district were reinstated in 2006 by the Renaissance on Main Committee and awarded at the Gallatin County Historical Society’s annual picnic. Framed certificates were awarded for a business award, home and garden award, and home renovation award.
In 2005, the City of Warsaw signed a lease agreement to use the Peak-Corkran House as the Warsaw Welcome Center. Built in 1869, the Gothic Revival home has been owned by the Warsaw Women’s Club for several decades and used for both club and community purposes. In recent years, however, declining membership jeopardized adequate staffing and programming at the property. City use of the property has led to needed rehabilitation of the structure and establishment of a focal point for heritage tourists visiting the community.
Designated a Preserve America Community in January 2007.