Boone Station State Historic Site was a 46-acre park in Kentucky commemorating the place where legendary pioneer Daniel Boone lived for a few years starting in 1779. It’s not all that exciting — just a lot of open space, really — but around 1992, a man named Robert C. Strader donated the land to the state of Kentucky with the desire to have it turned into a historical site. If that didn’t happen within 15 years, then he wanted to land to be given to his church.
It soon turned into a state park. Success!
But Gov. Matt Bevin just gave the whole place away to David’s Fork Baptist Church — a ten-minute drive away — without telling anybody or getting any public input.
Tom Eblen explains at the Lexington Journal-Herald:
[communications director for the Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet John] Cox also sent copies of two deeds. In a 1992 deed, Robert Channing Strader willed the property to the state. He specified that if the site was not “developed as a historic state park” within 15 years, ownership should revert to his church. In the second deed, executed Dec. 17, 2018, state officials argued they hadn’t met that condition “due to a lack of financial resources,” so the property was going to the church. Strader’s will didn’t define what level of development was required. Boone Station has been open as a state historic park for more than 20 years.
In some cases, historical sites have been given to cities in an effort to reduce state funds helping with upkeep. But this is the first time a historical site has been given to a church. And the question is how often Bevin will do this and under what criteria. It’s a possibility that scares
“Since the State is willing to give away the home of Daniel Boone, are all Kentucky’s historic sites now on the chopping block?” asked Phil Gray, a former manager of Boone Station and Fort Boonesborough State Park.
“The cost to the state for Boone Station is almost nothing,” Gray added. “There is a mowing contract and a very small electric bill each month. Upkeep on the fence. But that is it. When history loses, we all lose.”
“Obviously, we think it’s terrible” that state officials gave away the site, [president of The Boone Society Sam] Compton said. “We’re trying to preserve American frontier history. It’s fading away.”
… these places have been deemed Kentucky treasures. They have great educational and cultural value. Politicians shouldn’t give them away, especially under a cloak of secrecy. Anyone who cares about preserving Kentucky’s rich history should be asking questions and demanding answers.
Bevin has a history of bending over backwards to appease churches. And now he’s rewarding them with state property, with no formal justification for it, with no promise from the church to take care of the property and preserve it as a historical site, under the guise of fulfilling a donor’s wishes. It’s a slippery slope that spells bad news for anyone who cares about history.
(Thanks to Chad for the link)