NoDestination: Oldest House in Cynthiana

Oldest House in Cynthiana, Ky.

This isn’t just the oldest house in Cynthiana; it has served as so much more. So, Nate was right; I did really like the old log courthouse at Cynthiana’s courthouse square. The historic marker 1539 reads:

Oldest house in Cynthiana, built 1790. Young Henry Clay practiced law here, 1806. In 1817, city’s first newspaper, the Guardian of Liberty was printed by Adam Keenan, assisted by H. H. Kavanaugh, later a noted Bishop, and Dudley Mann, who became a diplomat to France. Guthrie’s Arithmetic, first to be published west of Alleghenies, was also printed here.

The marker, however, misses so much of the tale. Built by Dr. James McPeters in 1790, the building also served as the county’s first courthouse. [*] There, the county’s first murder trial was heard. The accused, Adam House, was defended by Henry Clay. Here is some more background from Mrs. L. Boyd’s Chronicles of Cynthiana (1894):

And, not surprisingly, the place is haunted.

9 thoughts on “NoDestination: Oldest House in Cynthiana”

  1. I didn't know about this. I run a small web site about Cynthiana and should probably look into including this there. From the looks of things, this house was built before the city of Cynthiana was even established!

  2. Citizen: I'll have more posts from Harrison County in the future; check out the "Harrison" tag on the right side of this site.

    It is a really neat house – actually, it was for lease when I was there. Imagine the history!

  3. PJWB – I didn't realise you had a Harrison County category here. I'm definitely going to drop by here regularly, as I'm always looking for interesting sites to link to.

    I wouldn't mind taking a look at the house to find evidence of its 'haunting' 🙂

  4. Oh, and I have a Harrison County question. On my drive into town (coming from Paris), I made a right turn with the promise of seeing Ruddle's Station. This caused me to meander through an area to Cynthiana's southeast. Anyway, along the way there was a slightly developed area with several large, old abandoned buildings.

    What was it?

  5. PJWB – so, you turned right onto Old Lair Pike? There isn't actually much to see at Ruddle's (or Ruddell's, depending on who you talk to!) Station any more. Very little remains – mostly just some rocks. I couldn't really guess what the abandoned buildings might have been. How old were they? A few post-Revolutionary period buildings remain, although most (including Ruddle's Station) have been destroyed. Depending on how far you drove, you could have happened upon The Cedars, of which only a few rooms remain after a fire or John Lair House, an old stone building.

  6. Yes, I turned onto Old Lair Pike and I took it all the way into Cynthiana (past the cemetery on my right).

    Anyway, the abandoned buildings were about probably near or before McKee Lane, were red brick and on the left side of the road. Possibly an old educational, medical or industrial site?

  7. I can't think what they are… if you do find out, please let me know, as I'm interested in all sorts of abandoned buildings – especially hospitals!

  8. I believe the old abandoned building you are referring to is the old Seagrams distillery abandoned building in the community of Lair. "The Cedars, aka the Mathias Lair home is no longer there. During the 1980's, the remaining brick structure of the home was torn down by Mary Clay of Martin Station. Clay had planned to use the brick from "The Cedars" & "The George Smiser Home" to build a stately new home. The John Lair House known as "Boscobel" is still standing & is the beautiful home of James & Diana Schroder Lukins.

  9. Mary – I've added a few extra search terms based on your information and I think you are right. Now I just wish I had stopped for some pictures. Oh, to go back and have an abandoned distillery post…

    I guess it just means I need to return to Harrison County sometime soon! Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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