Anchorage retains its small-town charm through its active community of neighbors, vibrant traditions, and historic architecture. It’s a friendly place where city employees, police, and residents know each other by name. Anchorage is well-known for its exceptional K-8 public school and its scenic beauty, with tree-shaded parks, horse paths, and walking trails throughout the city.
Anchorage’s northwestern boundary is formed by land claimed in 1773 by Isaac Hite and identified on John Filson's first map of Kentucky as Hite's Mill, later part of the grounds of Central State Hospital and the E.P. Sawyer State Park. The connecting roads to the Ohio River at Harrods Creek and to Middletown on the south were early transportation routes along where the farms of the first settlers were located.
Most influential among the early landowners was Edward Dorsey Hobbs. As a surveyor, he drew some of the earlier maps of Louisville, as well as Anchorage, and planned for the orderly growth of the area. He was involved with the establishment of the Louisville and Frankfort Railroad (later purchased by Louisville & Nashville Railroad) through Anchorage in 1849. As a result, for several years the area was known as Hobbs' Station.
Although the Ohio River is 12 miles away, the nautical name of the retirement home of riverboat captain James W. Goslee was adopted for the town when it incorporated in 1878. Tradition has it that the anchor that hangs inside the rim of a locomotive wheel in the center of town is the one that Captain Goslee removed from his ship, the Matamora, and put on his lawn at "The Anchorage" in 1869. It is a monument to the river, the railroad, and those who shaped the growth of the town.
With train service available, including the Louisville, Anchorage, and Pewee Valley interurban line starting in 1901, students seeking a high school education could attend the local boarding schools: Bellewood Female Seminary, Pine Hill Academy, and Forest Military Academy. Construction of the Citizens National Life Insurance Co. building in 1911 generated enough tax base to allow the community to create the Anchorage Grade and High School.
The chapel at the Bellewood Seminary had become the meeting place of a Presbyterian congregation organized in Middletown in 1799. In 1869, the gothic revival-style sanctuary of the Anchorage Presbyterian Church was built. St. Luke's Episcopal Church was built in 1908, and the Catholic Church of the Epiphany was constructed in 1975.
Isaac W. Bernheim, a Louisville distiller and the benefactor of Bernheim Forest, was among those prominent citizens who acquired a summer house in Anchorage. Through his influence, the Frederick Law Olmsted firm of Brookline, Massachusetts, was commissioned in 1914 to design a plan for the growth of Anchorage. The plan incorporated the stone bridges and triangle intersections that were features of the Louisville Park System, also designed by the firm.
Between 1878 and 1978, many of Anchorage’s large estates were subdivided into smaller building sites. The number of houses nearly doubled between 1977 and 1997. To preserve the rural character of the town, an Anchorage Historic District was created, with listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Ten years later, the boundaries of the district were extended to include most of the town. The town became a fifth-class city in 1966 and moved to a fourth-class city in 1984. In 2015, Kentucky redefined city classifications and Anchorage became a home rule-class city.
Today, Anchorage remains a beautiful and richly historic community that embodies the vision and dedication of the many who have cultivated it. Together, it’s citizens, municipal officials, school board, and more both enjoy the city and uphold the mantle of responsibility to preserve its character and strengthen its standing for the future.