A former Lexington mayor will spotlight that city’s Hunt-Morgan House at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the March 14 Second Thursday program at the Bluegrass Heritage Museum.
H. Foster Pettit, mayor of Lexington from 1972 to 1978 and a partner with Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs, will speak. Pettit and his wife Brenda are co-chairs of the 2013 BGT Antiques and Garden Show. He was a state representative from 1964 to 1970 and served on the Kentucky State Crime Commission from 1967 to 1971. Pettit served as president of the Kentucky League of Cities in 1976.
In the midst of Lexington’s historic antebellum Gratz Park, the Hunt-Morgan House stands as a reminder of early 19th century life, when Lexington was known as The Athens of the West.
It was built in 1814 by John Wesley Hunt, a leading landowner and businessman in Kentucky and the first millionaire west of the Allegheny Mountains. The Federal style House was acquired by the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation in 1955 to save it from impending demolition. The organization restored the home to its Federal appearance and now operates the house as a museum.
Hunt’s business empire included interests in banking, horse breeding, agriculture and hemp manufacturing. Among his business associates were Henry Clay and John Jacob Astor.
His grandson was Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan, the “Thunderbolt of the Confederacy.” Among the Morgan legends are a ride through the Hunt-Morgan House on horseback to kiss his mother goodbye.
Dr. Thomas Hunt Morgan, great-grandson of John Wesley Hunt and nephew of John Hunt Morgan, brought international fame to the family and the Bluegrass by becoming the first Kentuckian to win a Nobel Prize.
Morgan graduated in 1886 from the State College of Kentucky, later the University of Kentucky, and received his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1933.
Through his mother, Thomas Hunt Morgan was the great-grandson of Francis Scott Key, author of the “Star Spangled Banner,” and John Eager Howard, governor and senator from Maryland.
The museum’s collection of early Kentucky furniture, antique porcelain and 19th century paintings captures the elegance of the Hunt and Morgan families. The rooms are furnished with articles of the period as well as those owned by the family. The Alexander T. Hunt Civil War Museum, located on the second floor of the house, features an extensive collection of Civil War relics and memorabilia.
All Second Thursday programs are held at the museum, 217 S. Main St., and are open to the public. Refreshments will be served.