The White Horse Tavern
When you look up as you enter Behringer-Crawford Museum you’ll see a life-sized statue of a white horse overlooking the first floor from the second floor balcony. The statue is one of the last remnants of one of the tri-state’s finest restaurants for many years, the White Horse Tavern. The statue represents one of the great loves of founder Ben Castleman, Sr.
The White Horse Tavern opened in 1936 along Dixie Highway just outside of Covington in Park Hills. It was one of the first restaurants on what would become the “Gourmet Strip,” so-called because of the many high-end clubs and restaurants that lined the highway on its way through Covington, south into Erlanger and Florence. What started as a single dining room with a gas pump outside would be enlarged nine times during its tenure and employ close to 50 people by the 1960s.
The graceful statue of the white horse which adorned the restaurant for many years was a testament to owner Castleman’s love of horse racing. His horse farm in Lexington bred and sold the horse that would be named Seattle Slew by his new owners. Ironically, Castleman’s initial attempts to sell the thoroughbred were met with indifference, and he ended up selling the horse to a vet in Seattle for just $17,000. After Slew won the Triple Crown, Castleman sold the broodmare that foaled Slew for $250,000.
The restaurant experienced continued success until a fire destroyed the building early in 1972. Castleman attempted to reopen the restaurant across the street where the Golden Goose had been located, but that only lasted a few months and closed in September of the same year. He attempted to reopen again in late 1977 in Edgewood, but that location also closed after barely a year.
Though his attempts to revive the White Horse Tavern were unsuccessful, founder Ben Castleman Sr., left an indelible mark on the area. From selling the horse that became Seattle Slew to employing a young Steve McQueen as a bus boy, Castleman and his tavern carved out a place in history. Come check out Behringer-Crawford Museum to see the last remaining adornment of the restaurant and learn more about its storied past.
September 1, 2018 ·