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New Haven City

Nelson County, Kentucky

New Haven City Hall is located at 302 Center Street, New Haven KY 40051.
Phone: 502‑549‑3177.


Beginnings [1]

New Haven, Kentucky traces its origin to Captain Samuel Pottenger's Meat Cabin erected in 1781 at the present town site, located near the mouth of Pottenger's Creek on the Rolling Fork River in southwest Nelson County. Expansion by 1790 with gristmill and companion distillery, made it Pottenger's Repository for the developing flatboat river traffic down the Salt and Ohio River to New Orleans. In 1818, the Captain's son, Sam Pottenger Jr., made a remarkable trading trip via New Orleans to New Haven, Connecticut. Much impressed with the New England village, he returned in early 1819 and, at once, replaced the old sign on the meat cabin with a new one reading, "New Haven." In March, 1819, he had the County Surveyor lay off official lots and squares, reserved lot #1 for himself and took up permanent residence in New Haven later that year. The town's forty-year evolution had been due to its strategic location at the center of a network of trails and traces which combined with the river transport system much utilized both before and after the age of steam.

New Haven is also a regional center made remote because of distances (more than 10 miles to any County Seat town) and geologic terrain (within the Knob Region of steep hills, dividing the Bluegrass Region from the Green River country and the Barrens). With the turnpike-road system developing throughout Kentucky, between 1840-1845, construction of the eastern branch of the Louisville-Nashville Turnpike improved the old trace through New Haven making possible regular stage-line schedules. General travel and transport of cargo and produce was much encouraged by the first bridges and all-weather Macadam surface on the north-south artery. New Haven was the natural hub-crossroads in southern Nelson County with river road junction to serve the increasing 19th century commercial traffic.

  1. David H. Hall, Bardstown-Nelson County CLG Program, The New Sherwood Hotel, New Haven, Nelson County, KY, nomination document, 1991, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.