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Steve Wilson, 21c Museum Hotel

Steve Wilson is co-owner of 21c Museum Hotel on historic West Main Street in Louisville. Mr. Wilson's partner in the boutique hotel is his wife, Laura Lee Brown.

21c Museum Hotel was selected as the best hotel in the United States and 6th Best in the world in the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2009. 21c is also the only U.S. hotel in the top 20 on the list of the world’s best hotels. Hundreds of hotels were evaluated by Condé Nast Traveler readers for the top award and more than 25,000 individuals participated in the voting. 2009 marked one of the few times an independent hotel won the Readers’ Choice top award.

21c Museum Hotel was launched in 2006. It is woven into the fabric of the city and the downtown arts and theater district, serving as a gathering place where guests, artists, performers, and Louisvillians congregate for great food, innovative arts programs, and historic cocktails with a modern twist.

Both Esquire magazine and Louisville magazine awarded Proof on Main the honor of “Best New Restaurant.” Beyond acting as the creative force behind the project, much of the art found in the 21c Museum is from Wilson's and Brown’s acclaimed personal collection. Following their success in the Bluegrass, Wilson and Brown joined with former members of the famed Myriad Restaurant Group and attorney Craig Greenberg to form 21c Museum Hotels to launch similar projects across the country.

Steve Wilson and his wife, Laura Lee Brown, are also well known for their community efforts, their commitment to sustainable agriculture, land preservation, the arts, healthcare and education. The couple actively pursues community restoration projects aimed at revitalizing Louisville's urban cultural and architectural landscape, and offers real alternatives to suburban sprawl. They have been featured in publications around the globe such as W magazine, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Travel and Leisure.

Combining a love for art and Kentucky, Wilson is also a board member and founder of the Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft and is active in many of the projects with the Louisville Main Street Association. His activities and experience demonstrate a wide array of values and dedication to public service. He is a member of the Kentucky Farm Bureau, the Nature Conservancy, and the Community Farm Alliance and Commodity Growers Cooperative. He is on the Advisory Committee for the Governor’s School for the Arts, the Governor’s Progress Commission, and part of the Leadership Kentucky Class of 2002. In addition, he is a past board member for both the Olmsted Parks Conservancy of Louisville and the Bluegrass Boys Ranch of Lexington. Dedicated to public service, Wilson worked in the Kentucky governor's communications office for four administrations before dedicating his time to redevelopment and preservation in Kentucky. In 2008, he was appointed to the Kentucky State Fair Board by Governor Steve Beshear.

Conservation and preservation are topics very close to this Kentucky native’s heart. He and Brown were instrumental in safeguarding 1,000 acres in Kentucky from development and co-founded Oldham Ahead, a land-conservancy group. The couple's Woodland Farm is home to Kentucky Bison Company, which includes a nationally recognized herd of more than 300 American Bison. They also own a farm in Indiana that is situated directly across the Ohio River from the Kentucky farm. The couple is developing a master plan to put both farms in easement.

Wilson is extremely active as founder of Kentucky Bison Company. He directs all aspects of his buffalo operation from breeding to marketing value-added products. He has served as President, Vice President, and Chairman of the Board of the National Bison Association (NBA) and chairman of the NBA’s promotions committee. He has also served as International Director with the Canadian Bison Association and is the U.S. representative of the Canadian Bison Marketing Council.

Wilson and Brown live in a contemporary art-filled 19th century farm house overlooking the Ohio River in Goshen, Ky. In addition to their countless community efforts in Kentucky, they enjoy collecting art and traveling around the world.

Program 409
"Louisville Life" features The Concrete Lady, an award-winning history teacher, Hawks View Gallery and Café, Louisville's great skyscrapers, and the original 21c Museum Hotel. (#409)