Local and park leaders had an “open doors” event Saturday for the new Knob Creek Tavern improvements in Hodgenville.

Park Superintendent Catherine Bragaw made opening remarks to an audience outside of the tavern where she thanked those who had worked on the project.

The historical significance of the area is that Abraham Lincoln had moved to the farm from his birthplace before moving to Indiana.

Scott Powell, facility manager at the tavern, said the tavern originally was owned by the Howard family and was originally constructed in 1931, and opened to the public in 1933.

The Lincoln Kentucky Heritage Preservation Alliance organized to raise the money to purchase the tavern and land in 2002, and then donated it to the park system.

“It is no longer just a place for you. It is now a place that belongs to all as a selfless act of sharing what you love dearly,” Bragaw said.

Beginning 2013, the design for the grounds surrounding the tavern began, along with other projects including the parking lot.

In 2019, phase two began which was to rehabilitate the tavern itself. Powell said this construction included replacing several logs, redoing some of the foundation, replacing the roofing, fixing windows and refinishing the hardwood floors inside.

He said they also tore down a smaller building attached to the back of the tavern. It was replaced with another one, which will be used as an office.

Overall, he said this phase of the project has cost more than $5.5 million. He said money used on this are taken from a percentage of the fees park patrons pay at parks all over the country.

During construction, Powell said some issues arose with the pandemic, especially with getting certain materials.

While they originally had planned on doing a larger grand opening, because of the pandemic, they decided to opt for the “open doors” event, a smaller event but still open the tavern to the public.

Inside the tavern are educational materials and exhibits that tell the story of Lincoln’s boyhood home, the tavern and the National Park Service. The building also will serve as a base.

Powell said the tavern will be open on weekends through this month, and then they will do a winterizing project, where it will be closed until the spring.

Once COVID-19 reaches a level that is suitable, Powell said they will have a larger event for the official grand opening of the tavern in 2022.

“This is a reminder that every child has the potential for greatness,” Bragaw said.

Andrew Harp can be reached at 270-505-1414 or aharp@thenewsenterprise.com.

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