Liberty Hall Historic Site
FRANKFORT KY 40601-1826
Contact Information
Nonprofit Liberty Hall Historic Site
Address 202 WILKINSON ST
FRANKFORT, KY 40601 1826
Phone (502) 227-2560
Fax 502 227-3348
Contact Name Sara Elliott
Web and Social Media
Liberty Hall, 1796
At A Glance
IRS Ruling Year 1964
Former Names
Liberty Hall Association
Other ways to donate, support, or volunteer
Liberty Hall Historic Site accepts check, credit card, Pay Pal, phone or mailed donations. We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. We also accept monthly recurring donations via your credit card. Other ways to donate include:
-Annual Mothers' Garden campaign
-Year-End Giving campaign
-Bourbon and Browns sponsorship
-Special event sponsorship 
-Donation to special funds including conservation, exhibition, and garden
-Adopt a Book
To arrange a donation of stock or a planned gift, please call or visit the office at 202 Wilkinson St. in downtown Frankfort. For online donations, please visit our website at
There are in-kind donation opportunities throughout the year. Volunteer opportunities are also available throughout the year, please contact Vicky Middleswarth if you are interested,
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expenses - All Years
Expense Breakdown - Recent Year
Mission Statement Liberty Hall Historic Site (LHHS) serves as a learning center that engages the public in exploring the history, politics, social and cultural life in early Kentucky through the homes, gardens, documents, and artifacts of Senator John Brown and his family.
Background Statement
Liberty Hall (1796) has operated as a museum for over 75 years. In 1934 Liberty Hall was sold by John Brown’s descendants to a group of concerned citizens who formed Liberty Hall, Inc., a nonprofit organization. The early articles of incorporation specified the objective of the corporation was to cultivate historic inquiry and study through the collection and preservation of a library, as well as a museum. The house opened as a museum in 1937 and efforts to restore the property began and continued throughout the 1960s and 70s. In 1971 the Department of the Interior awarded Liberty Hall the high distinction of National Historic Landmark status.
Next door to Liberty Hall is the Orlando Brown House (1835). This property was part of John Brown’s original estate but was given to the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1955. The Colonial Dames opened the house as a museum shortly thereafter. In 1993 a management agreement was entered into by which Liberty Hall and the Orlando Brown House would be operated under the assumed name of Liberty Hall Historic Site (LHHS), to be managed by Liberty Hall Inc. The board of Liberty Hall Inc. consists of members of the NSCDA-KY with the option of community members serving on advisory committees.
In 1996 LHHS hired its first professional director and over the course of eight years (2005-2013) over $1.2 million was spent to restore the Site. The project was funded by private donations, grants, and foundations. Intensive restoration work on the exterior and interior of Liberty Hall was conducted. The rooms on the first floor were returned to how they would have looked during the lifetime of John Brown and his wife Margaretta Brown. In 2013, the focus of the restoration shifted to the second floor and two of the four rooms have been reopened, including a Kentucky Made decorative arts exhibit featuring fine 19th century pieces from the collection. The intentions for the other two upstairs rooms include an exhibit about Senator John Brown and his family and the creation of a rare books library and archives.
Although the articles of incorporation have been rewritten several times, and no longer mention it specifically, the intent of preserving a library at Liberty Hall, and promoting scholarship as expressed in the 1941 articles remain highly relevant. In 2013 the board adopted a new strategic plan with the creation of a library being central to LHHS’ future.
Impact Statement
2013 Accomplishments
1) We re-branded LHHS with a new color and font scheme, unifying and modernizing our look. Using the new branding, we created print materials (a rack card and member brochure), a museum store identity, on-site outdoor signage, and off-site banners advertising our site and programs. We also created a new website and expanded our social media presence.
2) We created four thematic evening tours: Senator Brown’s Neighborhood (a walking tour), Our Beloved Ghost, Life and Liberty, and Kentucky Made.
3) We continued to restore and re-interpret rooms in Liberty Hall, curtains were added to the Parlor on the first floor and a second floor bedroom was re-installed as Mary Mason Scott’s bedroom, circa 1880.
4) We evaluated the collections for insurance purposes and raised funds to conserve a Paul Sawyier oil painting, using the Power2Give website.
2014 Accomplishments
1) We installed three exhibits and a demonstration garden. Exhibits included: Kentucky Made: Decorative Arts from the Liberty Hall Collection (opened March 15, 2014), Dresses of Liberty Hall (March 15-July 5, 2014), and Paul Sawyier’s Works (Sept. 12 and Sept.19). A Monarch Butterfly Way Station was also installed in the garden.
2) We worked creatively to acquire the financial and human resources needed to accomplish our strategic goals. We hired five part-time staff. We received $20,000 from the Kentucky Bar Foundation to create the Senator John Brown Library & Archives. Funding was also received from the Snowy Owl Foundation, the Allstate Foundation, the Society of Colonial Wars, Anonymous, and Heritage Preservation, Inc. to implement a Conservation Assessment Program grant.
3) We were recognized for our preservation and educational excellence. We received the Ida Lee Willis Award for Preservation from the Kentucky Heritage Council and the Education Award for the Kentucky Made exhibit from the Kentucky Historical Society.
4) We initiated several new educational programs: home school workshops, Girl Scout workshops, and a QUEST scavenger hunt.
5) We hosted special events for over 3000 people including the National Society of Colonial Dames in America-Kentucky Chapter's annual and region II meetings, the Museum of the Early Southern Decorative Arts' annual meeting, the Early Kentucky Home Life Seminar featuring textile historian, Rabbit Goody, and free family events for the 4th of July and Halloween.
Needs Statement
1) There are several structural issues at both houses. The floor boards on the Liberty Hall back porch need to be replaced with either old growth, reclamation, or highly rot resistant species. The flooring then needs sand/stain or painting to blend repairs as well as enhance the longevity. The foundation requires numerous new concrete footers poured for all wooden support posts (maybe as many 16) as well as some partial repairs. Brick support piers also need repointing, with at least one needing major structural repairs. The cost of this project is estimated to be $15,000-$20,000. At the Orlando Brown House, the kitchen needs to be remodeled and updated to become a certifiable catering kitchen. And the handicap ramp at the Orlando Brown House needs to be repaired; ramp repairs are estimated at $5,000. Liberty Hall needs a new roof, it will cost in the range of $50,000.
2) Handicap accessibility at Liberty Hall is needed. A feasibility study needs to be conducted.
3) General conservation of our 4000+ collection. An art conservator surveyed 18 oil paintings in the collection and the estimate to conserve them all is: $128,000.
4) Event sponsorship is needed on all fundraisers and special events: Bourbon and Browns fundraiser, Brown Bites Lecture Series, and Old-Fashioned Fourth of July. The total sponsorship need is $40,000.
5) General operating support is also needed. In addition to distributions from investments and support from the NSCDA-KY, LHHS must generate funding for ongoing operations every year. The cost of doing business is ever increasing. In 2014 $95,000 was needed.
CEO/Executive Director Statement
As the finest example of Federal-era architecture in Kentucky, Liberty Hall’s authenticity is unparalleled. Nowhere else in the state can general visitors and school children be immersed in early Kentucky domestic life, slavery, politics, decorative arts, and horticulture; all so seamlessly intertwined and carefully preserved than at Liberty Hall.
Liberty Hall is the 1796 home of Kentucky’s first senator. Sometimes called the “Father of Kentucky” for his leadership in making Kentucky a state, John Brown worked for over 20 years on many of the issues that came before Congress, particularly those regarding westward expansion. Although overshadowed in name by another John Brown (the abolitionist) Senator Brown was critically important in shaping our state and our nation as the first US senator of the West.
Today Brown’s home is Frankfort’s only historic house museum, an anchor within the capital city’s historic downtown district. As the town’s largest public green space, with diligently maintained 19th century orchards and gardens, and displays of native trees, plants, and flowers, the 5-acre site attracts visitors from around the country and delivers a uniquely Kentucky experience.
Guided tours, special events, and year-round programs showcase the results of a 12 year/$1.2 million dollar restoration effort. Using the latest technology for recovering information about how the home originally looked, period wallpapers, floor covers, woven textiles, and window treatments have been recreated. The restoration has been accompanied by professional staffing and new interpretation methods designed to increase the Site’s value to the state as a learning center for early Kentucky history, politics, social, and cultural life.
Recent award-winning exhibitions have resulted in national recognition for an impressive collection of original furnishings including early 19th century paintings, silver, and furniture; some of which are considered masterworks. Senator John Brown’s Library & Archive is equally impressive. Funded by a grant from the Kentucky Bar Foundation and scheduled to open in 2016, the library contains over 7,000 rare books, photographs, letters and journals, including Brown’s personal copy of the constitution from 1799.
LHHS is an organization on the “grow.” With a willingness to adapt to change, institute successful new educational programs, and plan lively special events, we are making the study of Kentucky’s past a Kentucky past-time.
Service Categories
Secondary Organization Category Arts,Culture & Humanities / Historical Societies & Historic Preservation
Tertiary Organization Category Education / Libraries
Geographic Areas Served
Visitors to our museum and gardens are local, national, and international. The majority of the museum's educational programs and special events participants are from the Bluegrass area and Louisville.
Impact Questions
GoalsHelpWhat is the organization aiming to accomplish? This is the organization's ultimate goal for intended impact.
We have outlined six goals in our strategic plan, they are:
Goal 1: Preserve, conserve, and manage the LHHS collections for the benefit of current and future generations.
Goal 2: Promote life-long learning through educational experiences designed for a variety of audiences.
Goal 3: Maintain and improve LHHS buildings & grounds.
Goal 4: Develop a financial plan that supports LHHS and ensures continued growth.
Goal 5: Develop the necessary human resources for implementation of LHHS objectives & tasks.
Goal 6: Position LHHS as a relevant cultural resource.
StrategiesHelpWhat are the organization's strategies for its stated long-term goals?
Our three-year strategic plan was developed by staff and board members and through the implementation of this plan we hope to reach our goals. The plan is re-examined several times a year in order to update the status of completion of each task. The objectives and tasks in the plan are achievable and the staff and board are held responsible for accomplishing them.
CapabilitiesHelpWhat are the organization’s capabilities for doing this? What resources, capacities, and connections support its progress towards long-term goals?
LHHS is fortunate to have a wealth of internal strengths and resources which make long-term goal attainment possible. The Board of Directors is very dedicated to the success of the organization. As evidence of their commitment, the 22 person board has a 100% annual giving rate. The board is composed of members of the National Society of the Colonial Dames in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Colonial Dames recently received an award from the Kentucky Heritage Council for preservation service, in honor of the organization’s excellent work toward preservation at LHHS.
The LHHS staff is equally dedicated. Currently those employed in the four professional positions (director, educator, curator, PR/marketing) possess a combined 80 years of museum experience. An independent Conservation Assessment was conducted in 2014. The report covered topics of ownership and operation and noted that the education and experience of the full-time staff make them ideally suited for their positions. Further, it was noted that their enthusiasm and strong working relationship was apparent. The report also found that the depth of experienced part-time staff and volunteers contribute substantially to the museum.
In addition to a strong staff and board, internal financial resources provide the baseline funding needed to maintain the LHHS buildings and grounds. These resources include a well-managed endowment. Annual distribution from these investments provides one third of the operating expenses. Funding from the NSCDA-KY provides an additional one third of the budget. The current trend in raising the remaining one third needed to operate the Site is positive. Donations are on the rise, an indication of confidence in the organization’s direction and mission. Not resting on current successes, the board’s Development Committee is moving forward with efforts to develop a fundraising plan and a marketing plan to include planned giving, membership, and annual fundraising appeals and events.
Externally, LHHS has developed creative partnerships with local organizations which are critical in accomplishing our long-term goals. One example is the relationship with our neighbor, The Kentucky Bar Foundation. In recent years, the KBF has generously allowed our organization access to the property for such things as spillover event parking. Most recently KBF committed $20,000 grant toward the preservation of Senator John Brown’s Library & Archive. A recent grant from the NEA also gave LHHS an opportunity to partner with local schools, including Kentucky State University, toward the development of an art in public spaces cell phone tour for the City of Frankfort. In addition to working with local schools and businesses, a recent move on the part of the Board of Trustees has been to gain more community input and connection by inviting community members who are not themselves members of the Colonial Dames to work on committee projects for LHHS.
Board Chair
Board Chair Ruth Cloudman
Company Affiliation Retired
Term Apr 2019 to Mar 2020
Board Members
Lisa BarrRetiredExofficio
Ellen BlandWakefield-Reutlinger RealtorsVoting
Marcey BrodersonRetiredVoting
Ellen ChapmanCommunity VolunteerVoting
Susan CoblinChenault and Hoge InsuranceVoting
Sharon CoxRetiredExofficio
Julie DavisCommunity VolunteerVoting
Kit DavisCommunity VolunteerExofficio
Ann FlemingCommunity VolunteerVoting
Peggy GraddyCommunity VolunteerVoting
Adnee HamiltonCommunity VolunteerVoting
Alice HerringtonYussman Special Needs LawVoting
Betsy LankfordCommunity VolunteerVoting
Jennie LeavellCommunity VolunteerVoting
Lisette MarkhamCommunity VolunteerVoting
Nancy MeadeRetiredVoting
Kate MulhearnCommunity VolunteerVoting
Mott NicolCommunity VolunteerVoting
Janie PappasKeller Williams RealtyVoting
Elizabeth RightmyerRetiredVoting
Maria RoachThe Envelope PleaseVoting
Muffy StuartCommunity VolunteerExofficio
Board Demographics - Ethnicity. Add number
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 21
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 0
Female 21
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 68%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 12
Standing Committees
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Human Resources / Personnel
CEO/Executive Director
Executive Director Sara Elliott
Term Start June 2019
Full Time Staff 2
Part Time Staff 4
Volunteers 50
Contractors 2
Retention Rate 50%
Management Reports to Board? Yes
Staff Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 8
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Staff Demographics - Gender
Male 1
Female 7
Unspecified 0
Former CEOs
Julienne FosterJan 2013 - Apr 2019
Senior Staff
Title Curator & Development Assistant
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
NonManagement Formal Evaluation Yes
Non Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
  • Margaret Wise Brown Preschool Story Time-Preschool 4 and 5 year old classes are invited to sign up for a monthly story time. Each month features a book by Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon and a descendant of John and Margaretta Brown, and an activity. Held seven times a year. Free.
  • Homeschool Workshops-These two-hour programs feature interactive tours of the historic buildings and grounds, hands-on activities, and other activities that explore early 19th century life.
  • Girl Scout Workshops-Scouts earn the Playing the Past badge. Girl Scouts will become a girl or woman in the Brown household and explore historic room settings, see and sketch early 19th-century clothing styles, and sample period chores and games. The event will culminate with a tea party.
  • Thematic and general tours-Brown Family History Tour, Senator Brown’s Neighborhood Walking Tour, Life and Liberty Tour, Our Beloved Ghost Tour, and Kentucky Made tour.
  • Old Fashioned Fourth of July-Celebrating our nation's birth with games, crafts, and patriotic pedals contest! Free.


  • Book Signings and Presentations- Local and national authors who have written about early Kentucky or the Brown family are invited to speak, sell and sign their books.
  • Brown Bites Lecture Series-Three to four lectures and lunch per year on an early Kentucky topic. 


  • Rotating-Small cases throughout Liberty Hall, in 2018 Margaretta Brown's silver and miniature.
  • Permanent- Slavery and the Liberty Hall Kitchen illustrates how the enslaved people who worked in the kitchen combined hard labor and special skills to create meals for the Brown family. 
  • Permanent- Kentucky Made: Decorative Arts from the Liberty Hall Collection features some of the finest furniture, silver, textiles and fine art from the collection.
  • Traveling- The Brilliant Browns: A Kentucky Family is a 4 banner traveling exhibit
  • The Senator Brown Library & Archives contains over 3,000 volumes of books, 150 manuscripts, and 700 photographs. Works of nonfiction in history, government, philosophy, gardening, cooking, and genealogy are displayed alongside a fine collection of early federal publications, books in French, family bibles, and classic fiction. The earliest books in the collection date to the mid-18th century. This important collection has been inventoried and the books have been cataloged. The Library & Archives is open to the public by appointment only.
Plans & Policies
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Date Strategic Plan Adopted May 2014
Management Succession Plan? No
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Autism Society of the Bluegrass 
Capital City Museum
Downtown Frankfort, Inc. 
First Presbyterian Church 
Frankfort Parks and Recreation
Frankfort Public Art Tour 
Frankfort/Franklin County Tourist Commission 
Girl Scouts of Kentucky's Wilderness Road Council 
Kentucky Heritage Council
Kentucky Historical Society 
Kentucky Shakespeare 
Kentucky State University 
Lexington Junior League
Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts 
National Society of Colonial Dames of America-Kentucky Chapter/Region II 
Paul Sawyier Library
Pine Mountain Settlement School 
American Association for State and Local History2013
American Association of Museums - Member2013
Kentucky History AwardKentucky Historical Society2014
Ida L. Willis Preservation AwardKentucky Heritage Council2014
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the Government? Yes
Revenue vs Expenses - All Years
Expense Breakdown - Recent Year
Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year Start Apr 01, 2018
Fiscal Year End Mar 31, 2019
Projected Revenue $296,962.00
Projected Expenses $296,962.00
Endowment Value $1,839,410.00
Spending Policy Percentage
Percentage 5%
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available). Revenue from foundations and corporations may be included in individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201720162015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Individual Contributions$255,616$176,238$185,659
Investment Income, Net of Losses$46,312$49,855$78,568
Membership Dues--$0--
Special Events--$0--
Revenue In-Kind--$4,376--
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense$239,697$189,585$171,667
Administration Expense$116,591$120,737$118,273
Fundraising Expense$24,309$23,973$22,413
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.990.991.37
Program Expense/Total Expenses63%57%55%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue------
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets$1,935,750$1,848,424$1,947,294
Current Assets$146,752$100,192$89,465
Long-Term Liabilities$1$0--
Current Liabilities$42,476$36,273$30,358
Total Net Assets$1,893,273$1,812,151$1,916,936
Form 990s
2018 Form 990
2017 Form 990
2016 Form 990
2015 990
2014 990
2013 990
2012 990
2011 Form 990
2010 Form 990
2009 Form 990
2008 Form 990
Audit Documents
2015 Audit
2014 Audit
2013 Audit
2012 Audit
2011 Audit
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
State Registration Yes
Address 202 WILKINSON ST
FRANKFORT, KY 406011826
Primary Phone 502 227-2560
Contact Email
CEO/Executive Director Sara Elliott
Board Chair Ruth Cloudman
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired