BD 6GRAHAM, Ky. (10/13/19) — The former Graham High School in Muhlenberg County closed in 1990, while the elementary school closed a few years later.

Both school buildings and the old gym sat empty over the years — becoming targets for vandals to break windows, until four years ago when Thomas and Kim Bard bought the property to achieve their dream of operating a craft distillery at the abandoned location.

The couple hosted a public open house Saturday to showcase what they have accomplished thus far. The gym has been restored to its original glory as work on two other buildings continues.

“This place was in pretty bad shape when we first came in” said Kim Bard. “When I first walked in, I thought, ‘why did they have carpet in the gym?’” It wasn’t carpet. It was bird droppings all over the floor. Currently, the entire gym has been restored.

Jerry Finley, who previoulsy taught math at the school, pointed out the scoreboard equipment was still intact.

“I kept the clock right there for 14 years,” Finley said.

Many former Graham students attended the open house and appeared pleased with the progress.

“I have so many memories of this place,” said Margie Finley, former librarian at the school.

Kim was elated about Saturday's turnout during the open house, saying, “At 11 a.m., you could hardly move in here.”

Thomas said the next phase is to complete restoration of the high school building, while Kim indicated the building is in very good shape. “We need to replace the plumbing, electric and replace some windows."

Thomas noted that 90 percent of the work is completed.

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To fund the next phase, the couple is selling bricks and looking for investors. Time frame to buy a brick at the introductory price is closing, the Bards said.

Thomas explained, in order to complete the distillery, they needed to find investors for approximately $1.5-2 million.

“Most of that money is for equipment,” he said, adding it takes about nine months from the time equipment is ordered until delivery.

The project has been a “labor of love” for the couple. They expect to begin limited production with temporary equipment shortly. This production will occur on the stage, which is part of the gymnasium. After permanent equipment is installed in the old high school, the space will be used for special events.

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For more information about buying a brick or investing opportunities, email Kim at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Ron Sanders
SurfKY News
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