Danville is a Class 3 city in Boyle County, Kentucky, in the 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. Danville has recently been twice chosen to host U.S. Vice-Presidential debates, in 2000 and in 2012.
Within Kentucky, Danville is called the "City of Firsts":
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, and 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. 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 Revolutionary War veteran Robert Craddock. Craddock deeded a log house in Danville to Russell, who moved to the town after Craddock's death and started a school for children. The house still stands on Walnut Street.
In 1850, Danville and Boyle County backed construction of the Lexington and Danville Railroad. Money ran out when the railroad reached Nicholasville, and John A. Roebling had built towers for a suspension bridge over the Kentucky River. (Roebling lived in Danville during the construction.) Despite the lack of a railroad to Danville, the county still owed $150,000; it completed payment on time in 1884.
In 1860, a fire devastated the city, destroying 64 buildings and causing over $300,000 in damages. Boyle County's courthouse was among the destroyed buildings; its replacement was completed in 1862. After the Battle of Perryville in the Civil War on October 8, 1862, many Danville buildings, including the courthouse, were appropriated by Union forces for use as a hospital. 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. Boyle County became one of ten Kentucky counties which together produced over 90% of the US yield in 1889. 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 business sector was demolished by Urban Renewal in the 1970s to allow 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.