This Week in Louisville History: Queen Marie of Romania visits the city

Nov 14, 2016 at 3:57 pm
This Week in Louisville History: Queen Marie of Romania visits the city

On Thursday, Nov. 18, 1926, Louisville was visited by Marie of Romania, the first queen to visit our city.

Beginning in October 1926, Queen Marie took a well-publicized, diplomatic tour of the United States and Canada and was greeted by fanfare at all stops on her trip.

According to “On Tour With Queen Marie’” by Constance Lily Morris, who traveled with the queen and chronicled her trip, Queen Marie entered the U.S. on Oct. 18. After visiting New York and Washington D.C., she toured Canada before returning to the U.S. via North Dakota and heading to Chicago.

Reaching Chicago on Nov. 16, she got word that the King of Romania had fallen sick, and it was decided to cut her tour short and return home. On Nov. 17, it was announced that she would return home and scheduled stops in Cincinnati, Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh were all canceled. The Queen decided to keep the Louisville engagement, and at 11am (an hour later than planed), her entourage arrived at the Louisville train station.

According to Morris, Queen Marie was greeted by Mayor Arthur A. Will at City Hall, before a tour of Cherokee Park. The tour then headed down Bardstown Road for a visit of The Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown. Governor William J. Fields presided as host in a reception at the home. For dinner, fried chicken was served and and an all-black vocal quintet sang spirituals. Queen Marie was presented with an original copy of the poem "The Old Kentucky Home Good Night."

She next traveled to Hodgenville to visit Abraham Lincoln's birthplace before returning to Louisville that evening for a ball in her honor.

By all accounts, the Louisville trip was a success, save for one. The Courier-Journal reported that several hundred students at the William R. Belknap School in The Highlands waited in the wintery weather for a glimpse of the royal motorcade, but due to the late arrival, and last minute changes to the Queen's itinerary, the children had missed their chance.

“This Week In Louisville History” is a weekly column written by John King that runs every Monday, highlighting Louisville people, places, and events that have shaped our city over the last few centuries. John King is a culture writer and consultant living in Louisville who also writes and edits a world cultural history website called “This Day In Pop Culture”