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Danville, Kentucky
Downtown Danville
Downtown Danville
"The City of Firsts"; "Birthplace of the Bluegrass"; "Title Town"
Location of Danville in Boyle County, Kentucky.
Location of Danville in Boyle County, Kentucky.
Country United States
State Kentucky
County Boyle
Settled 1783
Incorporated 1787
 • Type Council–manager
 • Total 17.28 sq mi (44.76 km2)
 • Land 17.18 sq mi (44.50 km2)
 • Water 0.10 sq mi (0.26 km2)
984 ft (300 m)
 • Total 17,234
 • Density 1,003.08/sq mi (387.29/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 859 Exchanges: 236,238,239,936
FIPS code 21-19882
GNIS feature ID 0490584

Danville is a home rule-class city in Boyle County, Kentucky, United States. It is the seat of its county. The population was 16,218 at the 2010 Census. Danville is the principal city of the Danville Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Boyle and Lincoln counties. In 2001, Danville received a Great American Main Street Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 2011, Money magazine placed Danville as the fourth-best place to retire in the United States. Centre College in Danville was selected to host U.S. vice-presidential debates in 2000 and 2012.


Within Kentucky, Danville is called the "City of Firsts":

  • It housed the first courthouse in Kentucky.
  • The first Kentucky constitution was written and signed here.
  • It was the first capital of Kentucky.
  • It had the first U.S. post office west of the Allegheny Mountains.
  • It hosts the first state-supported school for the deaf.
  • Ephraim McDowell completed the first known successful laparotomy here in 1809, removing an ovarian tumor from a woman patient without anesthesia.
  • It is the home of Centre College, housing the oldest college administration building and campus west of the Allegheny Mountains.
Boyle county courthouse
Boyle County Courthouse in Danville

Danville was part of the Great Settlement Area around Harrod's Fort (present-day Harrodsburg), which was first settled in 1774. The site was originally known as Crow's Station for settler John Crow, but the town was surveyed and platted by Walker Daniel, Kentucky's first district attorney, who bought 76 acres (31 ha) near the Wilderness Road from Crow in 1783. The city was named for Daniel. The Virginia legislature officially established Danville on December 4, 1787.

Between 1784 and 1792, ten conventions were held in Danville to petition for better governance and ultimately to secure independence from Virginia. In 1786 the Danville Political Club was organized. It met each Saturday night at Grayson's Tavern to discuss the political, economic, and social concerns of the day. After a state constitution was adopted and separation was confirmed in 1792, the town ceased to be of statewide importance. Its leading citizens moved elsewhere.

Transylvania University was founded in Danville in 1783. It moved to Lexington in 1789. Centre College was founded in 1819. Danville Theological Seminary was founded in 1853; in 1901 it became part of the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The Caldwell Institute for Young Ladies was founded in 1860. It became Caldwell Female College in 1876, Caldwell College in 1904, Kentucky College for Women in 1913, and merged into Centre College in 1926.

In November 1806, Meriwether Lewis, co-leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, visited Danville while traveling the Wilderness Road to Washington, D.C., to report on the expedition, which had returned from the Pacific Coast. In December 1806, William Clark visited his nephews in school in Danville before following Lewis to Washington.

The first school in Danville for African-American children was founded around 1840 by Willis Russell, an emancipated slave of Robert Craddock, a Revolutionary War veteran. Craddock deeded a log house in Danville to Russell. He moved to the town after Craddock's death and started a school for children. The house still stands on Walnut Street.

In 1842, Boyle County was formed from southern Mercer County and northern Lincoln County. Danville became its county seat.

In 1850, Danville and Boyle County backed construction of the Lexington and Danville Railroad. Money ran out when the railroad reached Nicholasville. John A. Roebling had already built towers for a railroad suspension bridge over the Kentucky River. (Roebling lived in Danville during the construction.) Despite the railroad not being completed to Danville, the county still owed the company $150,000. It completed payment on time in 1884.

In 1860, a fire devastated the city, destroying 64 buildings and causing more than $300,000 in damages. Boyle County's courthouse was destroyed; its replacement was completed in 1862. After the Union won the Battle of Perryville in the Civil War on October 8, 1862, it appropriated many Danville buildings, including the courthouse, for use as hospitals. On October 11, a Union force drove Confederate forces from the county fairgrounds through Danville.

In 1775, Archibald McNeill planted Kentucky's first recorded hemp crop at Clark's Run Creek near Danville. By 1889 Boyle County was one of the ten Kentucky counties which together produced more than 90% of the US yield. It was the state's largest cash crop until 1915, when it lost its market to imported jute.

From the turn of the 20th century through the 1960s, Danville was home to a thriving African-American business sector located on and around 2nd Street on the western edge of what is now Constitution Square Historic Site. The city demolished this business sector under urban renewal in the 1970s to provide for the expansion of Constitution Square Park.

On October 5, 2000, Dick Cheney and Senator Joe Lieberman, candidates for Vice President of the United States, debated at Centre College during the 2000 presidential election. On October 11, 2012, Centre College again hosted the Vice-Presidential debate, this time between Vice President Joe Biden and Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan.


Danville is located in eastern Boyle County at 37°38′44″N 84°46′11″W / 37.6456°N 84.7698°W / 37.6456; -84.7698.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.9 square miles (41.2 km2), of which 15.8 square miles (41.0 km2) is land and 0.077 square miles (0.2 km2), or 0.58%, is water.

Danville, KY Water Tower, Feb 2014
Danville, Kentucky Water Tower viewed from the north. Features the motto "Quite Simply the Nicest Town"



Blue Grass Community Action Partnership provides DanTran bus service inside Danville. BGCAP also connects Danville with Lexington, Stanford, Junction City, and Lancaster.

  • US 127.svg U.S. Route 127 bisects Danville northwest (Harrodsburg) to south (Liberty).
  • US 150.svg U.S. Route 150 bisects Danville west (Perryville, Springfield) to southeast (Stanford).
  • US 127.svg U.S. Route 127 and US 150.svg U.S. Route 150 also bypass Danville on the west and south.
  • Elongated circle 33.svg Kentucky Route 33 enters Danville from north (Burgin, Versailles).
  • Elongated circle 34.svg Kentucky Route 34 connects Danville northeast to U.S. Route 27 and on to Lexington.
  • Elongated circle 52.svg Kentucky Route 52 connects Danville east to Lancaster.

Stuart Powell Field (DVK), 3 miles (5 km) from downtown, serves as Danville's general aviation airport. Blue Grass Airport (LEX) in Lexington, 35 miles (56 km) away, provides the closest commercial service. More extensive commercial service is available from Louisville International Airport (SDF), 82 miles (132 km) away, and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), 127 miles (204 km) away.


Norfolk Southern Railway operates a freight rail yard in Danville. Its Louisville-Chattanooga line intersects with its Cincinnati-Chattanooga line just north of Danville.


Climate data for Danville, Kentucky
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F 40 45 55 65 74 82 86 85 79 68 56 45 65
Average low °F 23 26 34 43 53 62 66 64 57 45 36 28 45
Average precipitation inches 3.66 3.86 4.96 3.98 4.94 4.77 4.83 3.40 3.29 3.15 3.68 4.34 48.86
Average high °C 4 7 13 18 23 28 30 29 26 20 13 7 18
Average low °C −5 −3 1 6 12 17 19 18 14 7 2 −2 7
Average precipitation mm 93 98 126 101 125 121 123 86 84 80 93 110 1,241
Source: The Weather Channel


Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 270
1810 432 60.0%
1830 849
1840 1,223 44.1%
1850 2,150 75.8%
1860 4,962 130.8%
1870 2,542 −48.8%
1880 3,074 20.9%
1890 3,766 22.5%
1900 4,285 13.8%
1910 5,420 26.5%
1920 5,699 5.1%
1930 6,729 18.1%
1940 6,734 0.1%
1950 8,686 29.0%
1960 9,010 3.7%
1970 11,542 28.1%
1980 12,942 12.1%
1990 12,420 −4.0%
2000 15,477 24.6%
2010 16,218 4.8%
2020 17,234 6.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 16,218 people, 6,405 households, and 3,903 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,020.0/sq mi (393.8/km2). There were 7,180 housing units at an average density of 451.6/sq mi (174.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 83.2% White, 10.9% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 1.8% from other races, and 2.8% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 3.9% of the population.

Of the 6,405 households, 25.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.1% were married couples living together, 14.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.8% were non-families. 33.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.83.

20.8% of the population was under the age of 18, 61.8% from 18 to 64, and 18.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.4 years. Females made up 54.4% and males made up 45.6% of the population aged 18 or older.

As of 2000, the median income for a household was US $32,938, and the median income for a family was $40,528. Males had a median income of $35,327 versus $24,542 for females. The per capita income was $18,906. About 9.4% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.6% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.


On March 2, 2010, Danville voted to go "wet" (to permit sale of packaged alcohol and sale of alcohol by the drink without restriction by size of premises).

Places of interest

  • Centre College is a top liberal arts college; it hosted the 2000 and 2012 Vice Presidential debates.
  • Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge is a 500-acre (200 ha) nature preserve.
  • Chateau du Vieux Corbeau Winery produces wine from local grapes and fruit.
  • Community Arts Center is an historic Beaux Arts building, formerly the Federal Building, that is a hub for local artist activity.
  • Confederate Monument is an early 20th-century statue dedicated to Kentucky's Civil War veterans.
  • Constitution Square is a park containing restored and recreated frontier buildings; the first Kentucky constitution was written and signed here.
  • Crow-Barbee House is the oldest stone structure west of the Allegheny Mountains.
  • Danville National Cemetery contains Union soldiers who died during the Battle of Perryville.
  • Ephraim McDowell House Museum is the house where Ephraim McDowell performed his groundbreaking ovariotomy.
  • Great American Dollhouse Museum is a 6,000-square-foot (560 m2) social history museum in miniature.
  • Jones Visual Arts Center is a gallery and primary studio for internationally known glass artist Stephen Rolfe Powell.
  • Perryville Battlefield is a park that preserves a significant Civil War battlefield.
  • Wilderness Trail Distillery produces bourbon, "Kentucky whiskey," rum, and vodka from locally grown grains.


Four venues for theatrical productions live in Danville.

  • The Norton Center for the Arts is a state-of-the-art host for performing and visual arts events throughout the year.
  • Pioneer Playhouse is the oldest outdoor theater in Kentucky, and the first theater officially designated as Kentucky's state theater. It features summer-stock productions using local and nationally known artists.
  • West T. Hill Community Theatre is a community theater with an acclaimed company of actors.
  • Gravely Hall Performing Arts Center is located in Danville High School and is home to the performing arts in the Danville Schools system.

Annual events

  • The Great American Brass Band Festival (June) is a free, three-day outdoor festival that features performances from brass bands from throughout the country. Other events have joined the festival like picnics, wine festivals, bourbon tastings, and the Great American Balloon Race.
  • The Boyle County Fair (June) is a fun-filled county fair.
  • Kentucky's Governor's School for the Arts (July) at Center College provides an educational springboard for young artists from around the state.
  • The Kentucky State BBQ Festival (September) provides good music and good food from some of the country's best BBQ pitmasters.
  • Oktoberfest (September) closes Main Street for a celebration.
  • The Forkland Heritage Festival (October) celebrates the culture of an historic community.
  • Perryville Battle Reenactment (October) is an authentic reliving of one of Kentucky's most significant Civil War battles.
  • Bourbon Chase (October) is a 200-mile relay footrace through central Kentucky. Danville is a major exchange point.


The Advocate-Messenger, a daily (except Saturday) newspaper, serves Danville and surrounding counties.

Local radio stations include three AM stations: WDFB-AM (1170) WHBN (1420) WHIR (1230) and three FM stations: WDFB-FM (88.1) WLAI (107.1) WRNZ (105.1).

WDKY-TV was licensed to Danville but its facilities are located in Lexington.

Films shot in Danville

  • Raintree County (1957) is a big-budget, epic film set during the Civil War. A short film, Operation Raintree, was shot to promote Raintree County.
  • Treasure of Matecumbe (1976) is a Walt Disney Productions family adventure film.
  • Child of Glass (1978) is a made-for-TV movie distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.
  • Lawn Dogs (1997) is a drama film released by Rank Organisation
  • Summerstock (2002), by Robby Henson, chronicled a year in the busy, eccentric life of Pioneer Playhouse.

Sister cities

Danville has one sister city, as designated by Sister Cities International:


Central College Danville Kentucky
Centre College
Public schools

Danville Schools operates Mary G. Hogsett Primary School, Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School, John W. Bate Middle School, and Danville High School for the city of Danville. Boyle County Schools operates Woodlawn Elementary School, Junction City Elementary School, Perryville Elementary School, Boyle County Middle School, and Boyle County High School for portions of Danville and the remainder of Boyle County. Kentucky School for the Deaf provides education to Kentucky's deaf and hard-of-hearing children from elementary through high school.

Private schools

Two private schools operate in Danville:

  • Danville Christian Academy
  • Danville Montessori School
Colleges and universities

Centre College, a nationally recognized liberal arts college, is located in Danville. Danville also hosts a campus of Bluegrass Community and Technical College

Public library

Danville has a lending library, the Boyle County Public Library.

Notable people

The following are highly noted people from Danville. For a more complete list see List of people from Danville, Kentucky.

See also

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