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Program 1118

1. the Garden of Hope
2. the Frazier Museum
3. a Lincoln family farm
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Kenton County

For more information:
• Garden of Hope, 699 Edgecliff Drive, Covington, KY 41014-1015, (859) 491-1777
The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem

Producer, audio, editor: Charlie Bissell
Videographer: Matt Grimm

Restoring Hope

The Garden of Hope

This edition of Kentucky Life spotlights efforts to honor and preserve the past, beginning with a remarkable garden in Covington that grew out of one man’s faith.

In 1938, the Rev. Morris Coers made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. One of the places that most inspired him was the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, one of several sites touted as the possible burial place of Jesus. He returned home convinced that all Americans should have the chance to visit this quietly inspirational place—even if they didn’t have the means to travel abroad.

So in the mid-1950s, while serving as pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Covington, he announced a plan to re-create the Garden Tomb on Immanuel’s grounds. This man of the cloth (and former Indiana legislator) also had something of an entrepreneurial bent, having already jumped into both radio and its young cousin, television, and he used his electronic “pulpit” to help raise money for the project. He also arranged to have the caretaker of the Garden Tomb come from Israel to advise on the construction and convinced people and governments around the world to send stones, plants, and artifacts to help make his garden as authentic as possible. He got antique carpenter’s tools from Nazareth, a gift from Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion; native plants from the Holy Land; and stones from the Jordan River, the Wailing Wall, and Solomon’s Temple as well as the Horns of Hatton, traditionally regarded as the site of the Sermon on the Mount.

Coers called the project the Garden of Hope. In addition to a replica of the tomb, it includes a carpenter’s shop outfitted as Jesus might have known it and the Chapel of Dreams, patterned after a 16th-century Spanish mission.

Though Coers did witness an Easter celebration in the mostly completed Garden of Hope in 1959, he died before its official dedication on Palm Sunday 1960. Then his successors lost interest in the project, and mounting debt and the depredations of vandals began to take their tolls. By the early 1990s, the garden was in serious disrepair.

But then you might say that some angels came to the rescue. A group of Immanuel members started talking about restoring the garden, and an anonymous donor pledged the money to make it happen. After five years of hard work, the volunteers had completed their task. Today the Garden of Hope is again a lovely 2.5-acre island of quiet amid city streets as well as a popular site for weddings and memorial services.

Jefferson County

For more information:
Frazier History Museum, 829 W. Main St., Louisville, KY 40202-2619, (502) 412-2280 or (866) 886-7103

Producer: Dave Shuffett

Arms and the Man

The Frazier Museum

Our next stop is also the product of one man’s vision—although its subject matter reflects a rather darker set of human impulses.

Louisville attorney, businessman, and philanthropist Owsley Brown Frazier is a dedicated collector of antique weapons and militaria. In the late 1990s, he decided to share his wide-ranging collection by building a state-of-the-art museum. The Frazier Historical Arms Museum, with 100,000 square feet of exhibit space on three floors, plus a theater, conference rooms, and a rooftop garden, opened in May 2004 in a reclaimed 19th-century building on Louisville’s Main Street.

An early coup as the museum was in the planning stages was a partnership with the Royal Armouries, Britain’s oldest museum. The combination of its founder’s own holdings with objects lent by the Armouries gives the Frazier a collection spanning more than 1,000 years of history and several continents.

Many of the individual items are of historical interest because of who they once belonged to: Daniel Boone’s family Bible, President Theodore Roosevelt’s “big stick,” Geronimo’s bow, Gen. George Armstrong Custer’s Colt pistols, George Washington’s flintlock rifle, and objects once used by Elizabeth I or Henry VIII. Others are works of art in themselves—swords, armor, gun stocks, and other items embellished by the craftsman’s hand to display a presenter’s or bearer’s status, wealth, or exceptional taste.

Throughout the museum, sophisticated interactive exhibits draw visitors into history. The Frazier also employs costumed interpreters to demonstrate how objects were used and how historical confrontations played out, and educational and cultural events are staged year-round.

The museum is now known as the Frazier History Museum.

Larue County

For more information:
• Lincoln’s Boyhood Home, 7120 Bardstown Rd., Hodgenville, KY 42748, (270) 358-3137
Knob Creek Farm from Abraham Lincoln Online
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, 2995 Lincoln Farm Road, Hodgenville, KY 42748, (270) 358-3137

Producer, videographer, editor: Cheryl Beckley

The Boy Who Would Be President

Lincoln’s boyhood home

Our final piece of history for this edition is also a Kentucky Life update. Back in Program 617, we visited a group of volunteers who were working to raise money (a cool million, actually) to purchase Knob Creek Farm, a boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln, and donate it to the National Park Service.

The volunteers’ efforts paid off on November 6, 2001, when Knob Creek Farm officially became federal property. It is now administered as part of the Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, which is about 10 miles away in Hodgenville.

Lincoln’s family moved to the Knob Creek property when young Abe was 2. Lincoln later wrote that it was the first home he could recall. A younger brother named Thomas, who lived only a few days, was buried on the property—and Lincoln himself once nearly drowned in the creek.

The Lincolns were evicted from the property when Abe was 7 as the result of a mix-up about the title to the land, an all-too-common occurrence in 19th-century Kentucky, where the regulation and recordkeeping regarding land ownership were chaotic at best. They moved on to Indiana, then Illinois. But with the acquisition of this Larue County farm, the Lincoln Trail is complete: The federal government now owns every place ever occupied by this most revered of presidents.

SEASON 11 PROGRAMS: 1101110211031104110511061107
110811091110: Wild and Scenic Kentucky11111112

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