Frankfort is the capital of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the seat of Franklin County. Based on population it is the fifth-smallest state capital in the United States and a 2nd-class city in Kentucky; the population was 25,527 at the 2010 census. Located on the Kentucky River, Frankfort is the principal city of the Frankfort, Kentucky Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Franklin and Anderson counties.
The town of Frankfort likely received its name from an event that took place in 1780s. American Indians attacked a group of early American pioneers from Bryan Station, who were making salt at a ford in the Kentucky River. Pioneer Stephen Frank was killed, and the settlers thereafter called the crossing "Frank's Ford." This name was later mistaken for Frankfort.
In 1786, James Wilkinson purchased the tract of land on the north side of the Kentucky River, which developed as downtown Frankfort. He was an early promoter of Frankfort as the state capital.
After Kentucky became the 15th state in early 1792, five commissioners were appointed on June 20 to choose a location for the capital. They were John Allen and John Edwards (both from Bourbon County), Henry Lee (from Mason), Thomas Kennedy (from Madison), and Robert Todd (from Fayette). A number of communities competed for this honor, but Frankfort won. According to early histories, the offer of Andrew Holmes' log house as capitol for seven years, a number of town lots, £50 worth of locks and hinges, 10 boxes of glass, 1,500 pounds of nails, and $3,000 in gold helped the decision go to Frankfort.
Frankfort had a post office by 1794, with Daniel Weisiger as postmaster. (Post Office Department records were destroyed by a fire in 1836. October 1, 1794, is the date of the first quarterly account sent to Washington by Mr. Weisiger.)
John Brown, a Virginia lawyer and statesman, built a home now called Liberty Hall in Frankfort in 1796. Before Kentucky's statehood, he represented Virginia in the Continental Congress (1777−78) and the U.S. Congress (1789−91). While in Congress, he introduced the bill granting statehood to Kentucky. After statehood, he was elected as one of Kentucky's U.S. Senators.
In 1796, the Kentucky General Assembly appropriated funds to provide a house to accommodate the governor in 1796, which was completed two years later. The Old Governor's Mansion is claimed to be the oldest official executive residence still in use in the United States. In 1829, Gideon Shryock designed the Old Capitol, Kentucky's third, in Greek Revival style. It served Kentucky as its Capitol from 1830 to 1910. A separate settlement known as South Frankfort was annexed in January 3, 1850.
On February 3, 1900 Governor-elect William Goebel was assassinated in Frankfort while walking to the capitol on the way to his inauguration. Former Secretary of State Caleb Powers was later found guilty in a conspiracy to murder Goebel.
Frankfort has grown considerably since the 1960s. A modern addition to the State Office Building was completed in 1967. The original building was completed in the 1930s on the location of the former Kentucky State Penitentiary. Some of the stone from the old prison was used for the walls surrounding the office building.
Capitol Plaza was established in the 1960s. It comprises the Capitol Plaza Office Tower, the tallest building in the city, the Capitol Plaza Hotel (formerly the Holiday Inn, Frankfort), and the Fountain Place Shoppes. The Capital Plaza Office Tower opened in 1968 and has become a visual landmark for the center of the city. In August 2008, capital officials announced a plan to demolish the Tower and redevelop the area over a period of years. They intended to replace the outdated Tower with a smaller, four- or five-story building for a more pedestrian-oriented scale at the complex.
Churches in Frankfort's historic district