Much of Kentucky is made of small towns that grew up around agriculture and industry. As economies have changed and the state, like the nation, has become increasingly migratory, with people moving from small towns to big cities, these small towns have been hit with the challenge of redefining themselves. The Western Kentucky town of Greenville (population 4,300), which is located almost smack between Land Between the Lakes and Mammoth Cave and just south of the Western Kentucky Parkway, is one such town.
The seat of a county known for its coal and dark tobacco production, Greenville is a standout example of how a small town can rejuvenate itself when the people who live there care enough to invest in their hometown. All the more stunning is that Greenville’s transformation took place through the depths of the recession and through three federally declared natural disasters.
While traveling through Western Kentucky, stop in at Greenville to see what’s going on there, being sure to make time for the following:
Downtown Walking Tour
Take a stroll through downtown along the newly repaired sidewalks, music filling the air from speakers on the historic-style lampposts, and past once-vacant buildings that have been freshly painted and restored to their original colors and designs and now host restaurants and shops. See what the Muhlenberg Community Theatre has going on at the Palace Theatre (119 N. Main St.), which has been updated with a neon marquee that is a replica of the original, then pop into the beautiful beaux arts Muhlenberg County Courthouse (100 S. Main St., 8am- 4pm Mon.-Fri.), whose dome was completely rebuilt in 2011. When hunger hits, enjoy the diner classics (plus a root beer float) and old-fashioned atmosphere at My Friends Place (129 S. Main St., 270/338-5962, 10am-8pm Mon.-Sat., 10am-2pm Sun.).
Brizendene Brothers Nature Park
Not far from downtown, the 12-acre Brizendene Brothers Nature Park (Pritchett Dr., 270/338-2966, dawn-dusk daily) lets you get back to nature with a half-mile trail through wooded areas and open meadow, picnic tables, and a stream with a manmade waterfall. It’s not uncommon to see deer, turkeys, and other wildlife, as well as plenty of birds.
Saturdays on the Square
On Saturday nights in July and August at 8pm, the square outside the courthouse fills as Greenville residents and people from further afield gather for free music from live bands in a wide range of genres. It’s a family-friendly way to enjoy the weekend and the beauty of summer nights.
For more information on what’s happening in Greenville, contact the Greenville Tourism Commission (112 N. Main St., 270/338-1895).
Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Kentucky.