When Maysville’s Rosemary Clooney in 1954 recorded her number one hit “This Ole House,” she couldn’t possibly have been thinking about the state’s beautiful historic houses, or better yet homes. Her song reached the top of the charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
Some may recall the song’s lyrics that spoke of an old house in such disrepair that it needed to be torn down or fall down first. “It’s a gettin ready to meet the Saints,” her song concluded.
Some of Kentucky’s most beautiful homes are open to be visited and enjoyed. At one time they may have been in need of some serious attention, but not any-more. Today they are more than just beautiful structures. Some are living history lessons.
Communities, both large and small, throughout the state are realizing that Ken-tuckians are interested in the stories these houses have to tell. And now with fall upon us it’s a great time for some mini-excursions across Kentucky and check some of them out.
Several of the homes offer period-dressed docents who guide and weave stories
relevant to the history of the house. Others allow for self-guided tours with inter-pretive signage. In either case it is suggested that hours of operation at each in-dividual house be verified before visiting.
Federal Hill, better known as My Old Kentucky Home, in Bardstown has long been the most publicized home tour in the state. However, there are others with interesting, colorful stories about the families who lived there.
One of Kentucky’s most colorful politician lived at White Hall in Richmond.
Cassius M. Clay was an emancipationist who served as minister to Russia under President Abraham Lincoln. The 44-room Italianate mansion was built in 1799, and remodeled in the 1860s.
Kentucky’s 16th governor, William Owsley, lived in Lancaster in a beautiful Fed-eral style home called Pleasant Retreat. The home has been restored and visi-tors can view the Owsley family portraits as well as the original 1812 French wallpaper.
Liberty Hall in Frankfort was home to Kentucky’s first U.S. Senator John Brown. Listed as a National Historic Landmark the home now interprets early American politics and everyday life in the state’s young capital city. The gardens that sur-round the home are open year-round.
Historians consider Riverview in Bowling Green as one of Kentucky’s finest ex-amples of Italianate architecture. The home, built between 1857-1872 offers a look in the Victorian lifestyle of a prominent local family. The home is on the John Hunt Morgan trail.
Whitehaven in Paducah, built in 1860, is credited with being the only historic
home in America that has been restored as an interstate tourist welcome center. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and its second floor features memorabilia of Paducah native Alben W. Barkley, who served as Vice President under Harry Truman.
The Conrad-Caldwell House, in old Louisville’s St. James Court, depicts the Vic-torian life style of the upper class. The mansion is architecturally significant for its exterior stonework and interior wood carvings, parquet flooring and beautiful stained glass.
Adsmore, a living history museum, sits on a four-acre estate in the heart of down-town Princeton in Western Kentucky. This elegantly Victorian home describes life as it was in the early 1900s. Adsmore is a year-round attraction that offers eight different interpretive settings throughout the calendar year.
It is suggested to call ahead if planning a visit to verify hours of operation. All of these historic homes have admission charges with the exception of Whitehaven in Paducah.
Here is where they are located …
Whitehaven, Paducah, KY
1845 Lone Oak Road
White Hall, Richmond, KY
500 White Hall Shrine Road
Federal Hill/My Old Kentucky Home, Bardstown, KY
501 East Stephen Foster Road
Riverview, Bowling Green, KY
1110 West Main Avenue
Gov. Wm. Owsley House, Lancaster, KY
656 Stanford Road
Liberty Hall, Frankfort, KY
218 Wilkinson Street
Conrad-Caldwell House, Louisville, KY
1402 St. James Court
Adsmore, Princeton, KY
Exits 12 or 13 Western Kentucky Parkway or Exits 45 or 56 off I-24
304 N. Jefferson Street
Other Mansions worth a Visit
Dinsmore Homestead, Burlington, KY
5656 Burlington Pike
Waveland, Lexington, KY
225 Waveland Museum Lane
There’s no excuse, get up, get out and get going! Gary P. West can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org