CommunitySpotlight Series


Cardome Renaissance Center: Preserving a big piece of history in Georgetown

Posted at 12:06 PM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 18:47:24-04

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Cardome Renaissance Center in Georgetown is mainly an event venue now, and the property is home to the Senior Citizens Center and a Catholic school. The history on that land runs deep and is being well-preserved.

Situated on a hill top with century-old trees surrounding it, the Cardome Renaissance Center takes you away. Maybe back in time, or maybe just to a place of calm and quiet.

"You get a sense of peace, and tranquility, and natural beauty, and that's what most people know about Cardome," says Board Chair and volunteer Executive Director Rich Archey.

But to really understand this place, you have to know the history. Construction on Cardome Renaissance Center started around 1895 and now encompasses about 30 acres.

"Cardome has a very rich historical and cultural significance to Georgetown and Scott County," Archey says.

It was once part of a 1,000-acre land grant given by Virginia when Kentucky was being formed.

"The first residence on the property was built in 1821 by the Bradford family, and a few years later, the property was acquired by the Robinson family," says Archey. "Governor Robinson was the governor of Kentucky during the Civil War."

Archey says at some point during their residency, the home took on the name "Cardome" which is a Latin derivative meaning "Dear Home."

The historical impact of Cardome would once again shift.

"In the late 1800s, the Catholic Sisters of Visitation acquired the property," said Archey. "They built this wonderful monastery building we're sitting in. They operated the monastery and the academy for women."

Many of the graduates went on to become big names in science, industry, and education.

The Sisters and the all-female school operated for 91 years and that's perhaps how most people historically associate the Cardome Renaissance Center.

"Whenever I'm in Georgetown and someone finds out I'm associated with Cardome, most of the time, they have a story about an aunt or a grandmother or someone they know that came to the academy here, and it changed their life."

The City of Georgetown acquired the property in 1987 and another historically significant moment came into play.

"That was at the same time frame that Toyota Manufacturing was moving into Georgetown," he says. "They provided a very generous $1 million grant to the city because they recognized the significance of the property."

For more than 30 years, the vision to make this a cultural treasure continued.

The Cardome Renaissance Center is a popular venue for weddings and other special events, both inside and in the outdoor space.

The Catholic Diocese of Lexington took over the property in 2019. And in the last couple of years, the Scott County Senior Citizens Center moved to the property and Saint John's Parish School.

"Big changes just over the last couple of years," says Archey. "There's now a new sense of life here on the Cardome campus. Every day you come here and there are kids being educated, there are kids playing, lots of events taking place, and we are just really proud to be a part of that."

Proud that generations of people to come will know the history and see the vision for the future here.