Party in the Park

Butler Park lodge marks its
50th year with September event

The park was built on land
donated by the Butler family

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. (September 2012) – Gen. Butler State Resort Park has been a familiar landmark in Carrollton since it opened as Kentucky’s sixth state park on Aug. 12, 1931. This year, the park’s lodge will celebrate 50 years in existence with special family-oriented events planned for the community.
The park was northern Kentucky’s first state parks and one of the first 10 built in the Commonwealth by the Civilian Conservation Corp. It was developed from a 300-acre tract that had been in the William O. Butler family back to a time when Carrollton was known as Port William.

Gen. Butler Lodge

Photo courtesy of Kentucky State Parks Dept.

Gen. Butler State Resort Park in
Carrollton was Kentucky’s sixth
state park. It opened in 1931. This
historic photo shows the front of
the lodge and swimming pool.

“This park is unique because it is a resort and an historic site,” said Gil Lawson, Communications Specialist for Kentucky State Parks Dept. “It’s also close to the community, whereas many state parks are in a rural setting.”
The Butler family is one of the state’s well-known historic families. Gen. Percival Butler was a Revolutionary War soldier who settled in 1796 in the area. He had four sons who were all prominent figures in Kentucky history.
The park was named for his son, William Orlando Butler (1791-1880). This sibling had a career as a soldier and statesman, and he studied law under Robert Wickliffe. He volunteered for enlistment in the War of 1812, taking part in the Battle of the River Raisin and the Battle of the Thames. He distinguished himself in the latter battle and received the rank of colonel.
At the outbreak of the Mexican War in 1846, Butler rejoined the army. Two years later, he ran for U.S. vice president with Democrat Lewis Cass. But they were defeated by Whig candidates Zachary Taylor and Millard Filmore. He served as a member of the Washington Peace Conference that tried to avoid the outbreak of the American Civil War.
The Butler family had a reputation for being patriots and public servants. The Marquis De Lafayette is reported to have said, “When I want a thing well done, I order a Butler to do it.”
Many members are buried in the Butler family cemetery, located not far from the 1859 Butler-Turpin Greek revival style home inside the park.
The Butler Lodge was built on a hilltop 50 years ago for overnight lodging. It contains the Two Rivers Restaurant, which serves a bistro style dinner menu with a wide variety of items including signature Kentucky favorites and locally grown produce.
In 1962, six parks opened with new lodges. Gen. Butler State Resort Park will “be the first to celebrate its lodge’s 50th anniversary,” said Lawson, which will actually take place on Oct. 31. “We’ll kick off the whole thing with them.”
An anniversary event is planned for the community at 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 15. A pig roast, bands, inflatables and anniversary cake will be available at the front entrance of the park on Hwy. 227.
Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 the day of the event. Proceeds will benefit the Carroll County Animal Hospital. “We wanted the proceeds to go to a community group,” said the park’s acting General Manager Larry Totten, who has been at the park since May 2012. There will also be free miniature golf and pedal boat rides. The children’s train will run that day and tours will be given of the Butler-Turpin State Historic House.
“This is a noteworthy milestone,” said Totten, who has been employed by the Kentucky State Parks system for 36 years. After retiring in 2010, Totten decide things were too boring and last October the parks system asked him to return to fill in at General Butler until a permanent general manager can be hired.
Totten has worked at four other resort parks in the state and said “people like to come to the parks. It’s not as hectic a time as at a commercial property. It’s a different atmosphere; you can relax more.”
He said that occupancy in all of the parks has decreased the last several years. But this year, he has seen “a lot of rebounding so far.” The lodge has been refreshed in anticipation of this anniversary event.
“This is a big year in the parks system. We also wanted to do something to reinvigorate the relationship between the park and the community. We appreciate the support the community has given us. We want to help each other.”
The Carroll County Chamber of Commerce & Community Development Corp. became involved in planning the event after attended a meeting at the park with the parks commissioner, Elaine Walker.
“She invited local officials, tourism, chamber, and local groups to discuss ways that the park and community could work together to promote each other,” said Bret Reese, the chamber’s administrative assistant.
“We came up with this idea as an event mainly for the community and surrounding area to have a family fun day at the park and showcase some of the changes they have made,” Reese said. Changes include landscaping, new mattresses for the rooms and many other improvements.
The park is the only spot in the state that has a unique view of the convergence of the Kentucky and Ohio rivers. A stone pavilion was built by the Development Corp. on the highest hill overlooking the Kentucky River.
Other amenities include 24 cottages and a convention center that serves as the location of many weddings and events, including the chamber’s annual banquet. The campground offers 111 campsites, with utility hookups, grills, showers, rest rooms and a laundry facility.
“Having a state park in our county is a great asset,” said Reese. “It’s somewhere locals as well as tourists can go to have a fun day hiking, picnicking, playing putt putt, camping, dining and more.”

• Tickets can be purchased at the chamber office, tourism office and the park’s lodge. For more information contact the park at (502) 732-4384.

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