September 19, 2012 -- Thanks to a national competition to find the “Prettiest Painted Places in America,” people across the country are discovering what Kentucky residents have long known: The Bluegrass State has some of the most beautiful towns and neighborhoods to be found anywhere.

Sponsored by the Paint Quality Institute, whose mission is to educate the public about quality paints and coatings, the “Prettiest Painted Places” competition has drawn six entries from Kentucky: Downtown Bowling Green, Harrodsburg, Madisonville, Old Louisville, Paducah, and Princeton.

Over the next few weeks, the six Kentucky communities will vie with nearly 200 nominees from other states for regional and national honors, as judges with expertise in color selection, exterior painting, and home improvement review the entries, conduct additional research and make selected site visits. Finalists will be announced in late September, and the nation’s 12 “Prettiest Painted Places” will be revealed in mid-October.

The Paint Quality Institute has conducted its competition twice before, most recently in 2000. Its purpose is to vividly show how an attractive paint color scheme can greatly enhance the “curb appeal” of any structure’s exterior.

“We feel there is no better way to demonstrate the importance of exterior paint color than to focus on these beautiful real-world communities that take so much pride in their appearance,” said Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert at the Paint Quality Institute. “The places involved in our competition are a tremendous inspiration to us all, and by giving them recognition, we hope to instill in the public a better appreciation for the role exterior paint can play in protecting and enhancing the appearance of any home or building,” she said.

A wide variety of “places” have been entered in the competition -- big city neighborhoods, tiny rural towns, historical districts, “Main Streets” and communities with exterior mural programs. Nominees range from well-known places, such as Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Napa, California to hidden gems like Vashon-Maury Island, Washington and Bell Buckle, Tennessee.

In case you’re curious, the names and locations of all of the nominees are posted on the Paint Quality Institute website at


  • Downtown Bowling Green: Located in the heart of the state’s third largest city lies a mosaic of beautifully painted structures in a range of architectural styles, including Queen Anne, Folk Victorian, Classical and Colonial Revival, Spanish Revival, and Italianate, many of which are freshly restored. 
  • Harrodsburg: Filled with historically significant painted homes and buildings, the community is the oldest settlement West of the Alleghenies, founded in 1774 as Harrod’s Town. 
  • Madisonville Historic District: The historic town’s original commercial district and residential neighborhoods have recently been given a facelift with colorful paint, part of a revitalization effort by its Downtown Turnaround Partnership.
  • Old Louisville: Built as a “suburb” in the 1870s, Old Louisville is the country’s largest collection of restored Victorian homes – nearly 48 city blocks of rich architecture serving today as B&Bs, museums, and private residences.
  • Paducah: Home of the National Quilt Museum, this vibrant river-town resembles a quilt in many ways, most especially in its colorfully-painted, turn-of-the-century architecture that houses everything from boutiques and eateries to antique shops and museums.
  • Princeton: Site of a recent “Let’s Paint the Town” project designed to preserve and revitalize the downtown historic area with vibrant color through the work of a small army of volunteers. 

Information provided by Paint Quality Institute