Pewee Valley Confederate Cemetery is the site of the old Kentucky Confederate Home. The cemetery is not only on the National Register of Historic Places, but an individual monument within it, the Confederate Memorial in Pewee Valley, is separately on it as part of the Civil War Monuments of Kentucky MPS. It is the only cemetery for Confederate veterans, 313 in total, that is an official state burying ground in Kentucky.
In May 1871, several local citizens of Pewee Valley, Kentucky, twenty miles (32 km) northeast of Louisville, Kentucky, decided they wanted a local public cemetery. By August 1871 the land was purchased. The following spring, in 1872, the cemetery was organized and plants were placed to beautify the area. When they were finished, they asked for a charter from the Kentucky state government.
Close to the cemetery, the Villa Ridge Inn was built in 1889. The site was a four-story summer resort was to be popular with Louisville entrepreneurs and their families. However, despite being a $90,000 construction with "majestic architecture", it never attracted enough visitors to stay in business. Between the Inn's closure and 1902, it had temporarily become a private high school, the successor to the Kentucky College for Young Ladies.
When the approval for the Confederate home was gained in 1904, the cemetery was divided into three parts; one for Confederate veterans, one for whites, and one for blacks.
In 1902 the Kentucky state assembly unanimously approved the building of a veterans home specifically for Confederate veterans of the American Civil War by the cemetery. It was done at the behest of former Confederate officer Bennett H. Young, who had long desired such a facility as he saw many former Confederate veterans were no longer able to take care of themselves. After Young's group acquired $16,000, the legislation was approved. Young's group of Confederate veterans and the Daughters of the Confederacy chose the Villa Ridge site just outside the cemetery, as it was well-sited and very inexpensive compared to what it had cost to build in 1889. The cemetery was established shortly after the hospital was opened, with the special monument built soon afterwards. The total area of the home and cemetery was 11,275 square feet.
In the years it was an active veterans facility, it provided a hospital, nursing care, food, entertainment, and religious services for up to 350 veterans at a time, providing a home for 700 former Confederate soldiers in its years of operations. The requirements to be a resident of the home was to not only be a former Confederate soldier, but to have been a resident of Kentucky for the past six months, be mentally stable, and to have no problems with alcoholism. Many of the veterans once served under John Hunt Morgan. A fire on March 25, 1920 destroyed the main building, as well as an infirmary ward and laundry. Fortunately, no lives were lost, and the rest of the facility was enough to house those residents still using the home. Eventually, the number of veterans who could be served dwindled, and by 1934 the hospital was no more, with the remaining five residents being transferred to the nearby Pewee Valley Sanitorium.
All that remains of the hospital is its main gate, which was moved to become the entrance arch for the cemetery, and part of the walkway from the house to the railroad. A sign is placed along the pathway to mark it. The source of fresh water for the facility, a reservoir, was filled in during the 1990s.
The monument is unique for Kentucky Civil War monuments in that it is built of zinc, whereas most are made of marble or limestone. Another oddity is that the obelisk and base are separated by an inscripted Gothic altar that acts as an arch on the face of the monument. Confederate flags are also crafted upon the monument.
- Pewee Valley Cemetery
- The Confederate Home in Pewee Valley
- The Kentucky Confederate Home
- Kleber, John E. Encyclopedia of Louisville. (University Press of Kentucky). pg.699.
- Oldham County Historical Society
- Civil War in Kentucky
- The Confederate Home in Pewee Valley
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