Brown and Wilson Announce Agritourism Focused Project and Conservation Easement at Hermitage Farm
Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, the owners of Hermitage Farm, announced their plans today to develop a world-class facility that celebrates Kentucky’s signature industries: food, bourbon, and horses. The announcement preceded the 2016 Hermitage Classic, a United States Equestrian Federation-sanctioned combined driving competition, taking place this weekend at Hermitage Farm.
The farm has remained a successful Thoroughbred operation as Brown and Wilson, who are married entrepreneurs, have sought to expand the vision of the property’s previous owners: Henshaw-Waters family, Warner Jones, and Carl Pollard. Brown and Wilson purchased Hermitage Farm in 2003.
The first element of the development is a restaurant that will be located inside of an existing dairy barn on the farm. The restaurant will serve hyperlocal produce grown at Hermitage and will feature a processing kitchen that local farmers can use to preserve their fruits and vegetables to be sold off season. The hay loft of the barn will be renovated into an event space that can be rented for a wedding or other events.
A bourbon experience will also be developed to complement the restaurant. Visitors can learn, see, touch, smell, and taste everything about bourbon from seed to sip. A small pot still will use water from a limestone creek located at Hermitage. Just like the restaurant, this element will be housed in an existing barn on the property.
The third element is an equine experience, where visitors can see and touch retired horses and ponies and learn more about this vital industry. Adults and children will be able to learn about the history of Hermitage’s Throughbred operation. Hermitage is home of many racing champions including the 1953 Kentucky Derby winner Dark Star and more than 200 stakes winners. Queen Elizabeth II visited the farm in 1986.
To illustrate Brown and Wilson’s commitment to preserving the beauty of Hermitage Farm and its land, they also announced that they intend to place nearly 1/3 of the farm that runs along US 42 into a conservation easement. This distinction allows landowners to protect a property’s natural resources and scenic beauty from development. It ensures that nothing happens to this land for generations to come.
“Laura Lee and I love Kentucky,” said Steve Wilson. “We think Hermitage Farm is the perfect place to showcase all that is beautiful about Kentucky and celebrate the agricultural heritage that is so unique to our Commonwealth. We envision Hermitage Farm becoming a perfect destination for the growing number of tourists visiting Kentucky each year. We believe that this project will bolster Oldham County’s economy in the same way that 21C Museum Hotel uplifted the Central Business District in Louisville.”
In addition to Hermitage Farm, Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson own 21c Museum Hotels and the Kentucky Bison Co. They are also investors in the Whiskey Row Revitalization and Stabilization project on West Main Street, Louisville, KY.