Hiding Fairview in Jessamine County

Fairview. Photo dated 1980 by Kenneth Gibbs for the Kentucky Heritage Council (NRHP)

Fairview is located at the corner of Ash Grove and Lexington Roads in Jessamine County. Thanks to the population growth in Nicholasville along U.S. 27, the property is located within the city limits of Nicholasville. And that growth is having a direct impact on Fairview itself.

The History of Fairview

Construction of Fairview, also known on the National Register of Historic Places as the Marshall-Bryan House, began around 1850 by Dr. Lewis Marshall. Dr. Marshall was the younger brother of Chief Justice John Marshall of the United States Supreme Court.

Decades earlier and prior to the Revolutionary War, Alexander McKee had surveyed and claimed this land for himself. In fact, McKee possessed some 3,000 acres in Fincastle County. His allegiance, however, to England during the war resulted in him losing his land holdings. According to historian Walter Hoberg, “an inquest of escheat was held at Lexington by the sheriff of Kentucky county on July 1, 1780, regarding [McKee’s] holdings. They were declared forfeited and were sold for $30,000 at a sheriff’s sale. The money was used in the establishment of Transylvania University.”

It was later that the land on which Fairview was constructed was sold to the Marshall family. Before Fairview would be completed, however, Dr. Lewis Marshall opted to construct a home in Woodford County and the land was sold to the Bryan family and which family would continue to own the property until it was sold in January 2018 to developers.

Fairview in 2018. Author’s collection.

In his newsletter to constituents, Jessamine County Fourth District Magistrate George W. Dean wrote a brief history of Fairview, noting that during the Civil War “the roof of the house was used as an observation point to observe possible troop movements in the area … [and that] enemy troops could be spotted from long distances by clouds of dust created by the movement of large numbers of men and horses, especially during dry weather.”

When the property was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, Fairview was described as “one of the most expressive of the county’s Greek Revival houses [with] design features unusual in the county (full front portico, octagonal entry columns, hipped roof, vertical stacking of features.”

Author’s collection.

The Development

According to Cheryl Truman’s article in the Lexington Herald-Leader, a new development called Greyson on 27 “will include 26 acres of multi-family homes and 33 acres of single-family houses.” It is being developed by Hills Property Management of Cincinnati.

Travelers along the old highway have recognized this home as a landmark for 170 years, but soon the building will be invisible to passing motorists as a 2-story, 14 unit multi-housing apartments building will be constructed between the old home and the highway. Although some lament this loss and it certainly does impact the setting of the historic home, it is laudable that the developers are rehabilitating and incorporating the historic Fairview into their plans. Too often, the dozers that scrape the property would take with it the centuries old brick and mortar. Although the historic property will forever be altered and hidden from plain view, all is not lost.

It is my hope that historic signage will be available so that visitors and residents alike may have the opportunity to pause and consider Fairview’s past.

Portion of Zone Map Amendment, Final Development Plan for Connell Property.