The Starting 5: October’s MVPs

The starting five? I’m thinking about Ulis, Labissiere, Murray, Poythress and Briscoe. How about you?

And over here on the Kaintuckeean, October’s Starting 5 were the month’s MVPs (Most Valuable Posts).

So what were October’s most popular posts?

A Ghoulish Walking Tour

The most popular post in October helped to promote what turned out to be an awesome event. #BGTdeTours’ October edition including a historical & ghost walk of Lexington’s past led by Kevin Steele of Lexington Ghost Walk and Creepy Crawl.

Read more at:

Griffith Woods

Griffith Woods. Author’s collection.

The only repeat on the list (September’s #1) comes back as October’s #3. The 745 acres of Harrison County land provides the purest glimpse of what Europeans first saw when the entered the Bluegrass region. This is what the land looked like when the Native Americans lived here. Griffith Woods is a cooperative effort between the Nature Conservancy, the University of Kentucky and the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission. Originally called Silver Lake Farm, the area features some venerable trees that are more than 300 years old.


Metes & Bounds: Measuring Up Kentucky

A long-form post which included much of the history of how Kentucky was first part of Virginia and its separation from the mother-Commonwealth, along with the breakdown of Kentucky into its 120 counties. Oh, yes, and there’s a little bit about a place called Transylvania!

The post also got picked up by KyForward.


The Story of the Willis Green House

Willis Green House. Blue Grass Trust

Danville’s Willis Green House was constructed around 1800 and has a grand history. It was in very poor shape and was auctioned off in 2013 to a consortium that sought its preservation. The consortium then sold the property to individuals who are restoring it. The photographs in this post, many provided by the Blue Grass Trust, are great examples of ‘ruin porn’ completed with a “door to hell.”

Read more:

Daniel Midkiff’s Ascension

What began as a short #DemolitionWatch post about a house being demolished on Walton Avenue turned into something larger. A western Kentucky typhoid fever outbreak led a widow and her children to Lexington and to the city’s Pythian Home. The family later rented the house (demolished in September 2015). One of the children was Daniel Midkiff who became a major player in the central Kentucky equine industry.

Read more:

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Regional Look to Blue Grass Trust’s 11 Endangered List

Photographs of Select Sites on the Blue Grass Trust’s Eleven in Their Eleventh Hour List

Each year, the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation assembles a list of historic central Kentucky properties which are threatened. For the 2015 edition of the “Eleven in Their Eleventh Hour” list, the BGT has looked primarily beyond Fayette County to sites across 11 central Kentucky counties.

The list of counties largely resembles those included in the 2006 World Monument Fund’s designation of the Inner Bluegrass Region. The Blue Grass Trust included Madison County on its “11 Endangered List” while omitting Anderson County. All Kentucky counties, however, have “at risk” structures and deserve the attention of preservationists.

The BGT’s list is a great step toward recognizing that preservation can and should occur throughout Kentucky and not only in our urban cores. The 14 structures within the 11 counties also reflect that theme.

According to the BGT, “the list highlights endangered properties and how their situations speak to larger preservation issues in the Bluegrass. The goal of the list is to create a progressive dialogue that moves toward positive long-term solutions. The criteria used for selecting the properties include historic significance, lack of protection from demolition, condition of structure, or architectural significance.”

The sites are listed below.

Bourbon County – Cedar Grove & John T. Redmon House 

Both Cedar Grove and the Redmon House are architecturally significant houses from the early 19th century. The circa 1818 John & John T. Redmon House has a steep roof more often found in Virginia than Kentucky and has lost its original one-story wings. Though both buildings are vacant, they have undergone partial renovations recently and the BGT believes these structures could be still restored.

Boyle County – Citizens National Bank & Dr. Polk House

Mostly empty for two-plus years, the Citizens National Bank building at 305 West Main Street in Danville was built in 1865 with a double storefront that housed First National Bank of Danville and a drug store. Bank-owned and listed for sale, a demolition (or partial demolition) of this structure could affect adjacent structures with which the building shares walls.  Dr. Polk House at 331 South Buell Street in Perryville sits across from Merchants’ Row and is arguably the historic landmark most in need of restoration in the downtown. Built in 1830 as a simple Greek Revival house with two chimneys and two front doors, the structure was purchased by Dr. Polk in 1850. A graduate of Transylvania University, he was the primary caretaker of wounded from the Battle of Perryville and his 1867 autobiography details the gruesome battlefield.

Dr. Polk House in Perryville, Kentucky. Photo courtesy of the BGT.

Clark County – Indian Old Fields 

Indian Old Fields in Clark County was the location of Eskippakithiki, the last known Native American town in what became Kentucky. Located on Lewis Evans’ 1755 map of Middle British Colonies, this highly important site was significantly impacted during construction of a new interchange (which opened September 2014) for the Mountain Parkway crossing KY 974 near the center of the Indian Old Fields.

The Kentucky Heritage Council noted in 2010 that “’Indian Old Fields,’ is a historic and prehistoric archaeological district of profound importance,” with 50 significant prehistoric archaeological sites identified within 2 kilometers of the interchange. These sites cover the Archaic Period (8000-1000 BC), Woodland Period (1000 B.C. -1000 AD) and Adena Period (1000-1750 AD), with several listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These include villages, Indian fort earthworks, mounds, sacred circles and stone graves. The site also has substantial ties to the famous Shawnee Chief Cathecassa or Black Hoof, Daniel Boone, and trader John Finley.

With the new $8.5 million dollar interchange now open, there are significant concerns that these sites with be under threat from pressure to further develop the area.

Fayette County – Modern Structures 

The Blue Grass Trust’s 2014 “Eleven in Their Eleventh Hour” focused on the historic resources at the University of Kentucky. Many of those included on the list (and most of those demolished) were Modern buildings designed by locally renowned architect Ernst Johnson. Research into Johnson’s work by the BGT and others such as architects Sarah House Tate and Dr. Robert Kelley was joined with education and advocacy programming focused on his architecture and legacy as a master of Modernism. This research and programming led to other efforts by the Blue Grass Trust, namely working to educate the public on the historic value of mid-century architecture.

In our continued education and advocacy effort surrounding these structures, the Blue Grass Trust lists Fayette County’s mid-century Modern architecture as endangered. Often viewed as not old enough or not part of the traditional early fabric of Lexington and surrounding areas, the Modern buildings of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s are being substantially and unrecognizably altered or demolished. It is important to recognize that buildings 50 years of age are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, a length of time deemed appropriate by the authors of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 for reflection on an era’s importance. Read more from the Kaintuckeean’s earlier post on the People’s Bank branch on South Broadway.

People’s Bank in Lexington. Photo by Rachel Alexander.

Franklin County – Old YMCA & Blanton-Crutcher Farm

Both the Old YMCA in downtown Frankfort faces potential demolition and the Blanton-Crutcher Farm in Jett are slowly deteriorating from neglect and both structures are worth saving. The 1911 Old YMCA at 104 Bridge Street in Frankfort, designed in the Beaux Arts style by a a Frankfort architect, was a state-of-the-art facility featuring a gymnasium, indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, meeting rooms and guest quarters. While a local developer is hoping to transform it into a boutique hotel, there is also a push by the city of Frankfort to demolish this structure. If saved, this could be a transformative project in our capital city. 

The Blanton-Crutcher Farm in Jett includes an architecturally and historically significant circa 1796 house built by Carter Blanton, a prominent member of the Jett farming community. In 1831, Blanton sold the farm to his nephew, Richard Crutcher, the son of Reverend Isaac Crutcher and Blanton’s sister, Nancy Blanton Crutcher. The 1974 National Register nomination for the farm notes: “The Crutchers were excellent farmers. Three generations of the family farmed the land and made improvements on the house until 1919 when the property was sold. It has remained a working farm with a large farmhouse, at its center, that has evolved over 180 years of active occupation.” In the 1880s, Washington Crutcher significantly increased the size of the house, turning it into the Victorian house that stands today (although the porches were removed due to deterioration and other modern features have been added).

Harrison County – The Handy House aka Ridgeway 

The Handy House, also known as Ridgeway, is located on US 62 in Cynthiana, KY. The nearly 200-year-old house was built in 1817 by Colonel William Brown, a United States Congressman and War of 1812 veteran. The farm and Federal-style house were also owned by Dr. Joel Frazer, namesake of Camp Frazer, a Union camp during the American Civil War. In the 1880s, the house underwent significant renovations by W. T. Handy, the owner from 1883-1916 and for whom the house remains named.

The Handy House checks almost every box when it comes to saving a structure: an architecturally and historically important house in good enough shape to rehabilitate, a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, qualification for the Kentucky Historic Preservation Tax Credit, and a group, the Harrison County Heritage Council and a descendant of the original owner, willing to take on the project. Unfortunately, the Handy House is jointly owned between the city and the county. County magistrates voted to tear it down, and the city opted not to vote on it with the hopes that the new council will come to a deal with the Harrison County Heritage Council, which has offered to purchase and restore the house as a community center. Read more from the Kaintuckeean’s earlier post on Ridgeway.

Jessamine County – Court Row 

Completed in 1881, Nicholasville’s Court Row is located right next to the Jessamine County Courthouse. Italianate in design and largely unchanged exterior-wise, Court Row is one of the most significant and substantial structures in downtown Nicholasville.

In a broad context, the listing of Court Row is a comment on the status of all the historic resources in downtown Nicholasville. Several threats exist that are culminating in drastic changes to the fabric of the town. Foremost, Nicholasville failed in 2013 to pass its first historic district, an overlay that would have encompassed the majority of the downtown and helped to regulate demolition and development. Then, within the past month, two historic structures were demolished, including the Lady Sterling House, an 1804 log cabin very close to the urban core. Additionally, Nicholasville is on the ‘short list’ for a new judicial center, the location of which has yet to be determined but will almost certainly have an effect on the downtown. Together, these threats present the potential for the loss of significant portions of Nicholasville’s charming downtown.

Madison County – Downtown Richmond 

Preservation has had a lot positive movement in Richmond. The Madison County Historical Society is active; the beautiful Irvinton House Museum is city-owned and the location of the Richmond Visitor’s Center; and the downtown contains a local historic district. Like most local historic districts (also known as H-1 overlays), though, the Downtown Richmond Historic District protects historic buildings and sites that are privately owned. That means that city- and county-owned sites are exempt from the H-1 regulations.

The potential damaging effects of this can already be seen. In February 2013, downtown Richmond lost the Miller House and the Old Creamery, two of its most historic buildings. Both were in the Downtown Richmond Historic District and on the National Register of Historic Places. Owned by the county, the buildings were demolished with the hopes of constructing a minimum-security prison on the site that would replicate the exterior façade of the Miller House, according to Madison Judge/Executive Kent Clark. There are several other historic sites in the urban core that are owned by either the city or the county, leading to worry about the state of preservation in Richmond’s downtown.

Mercer County – Walnut Hall

Built circa 1850 by David W. Thompson, Walnut Hall is one of Mercer County’s grand Greek Revival houses. A successful planter and native of Mercer County, Thompson left the house and 287 acres of farmland to his daughter, Sue Helm, upon his death in 1865. In 1978, Walnut Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places along with two other important and similar Mercer County Greek Revival houses: Lynnwood (off KY Highway 33 near the border of Mercer and Boyle Counties) and Glenworth (off Buster Pike).

The James Harrod Trust has notified the Blue Grass Trust that the house may be under threat of demolition, as it is owned by a prominent Central Kentucky developer known to have bulldozed several other important historic buildings.

Scott County – Choctaw Indian Academy 

Located in Blue Springs, KY, off Route 227 near Stamping Ground, the Choctaw Indian Academy was created in 1818 on the farm of Colonel Richard M. Johnson, who served as Vice President of the United States under Martin Van Buren (1837–1841). The Academy was created using Federal funding and was intended to provide a traditional European-American education for Native Americans boys. (It was one of only two government schools operated by the Department of War – the other being West Point.) Originally consisting of five structures built prior to 1825, only one building – thought to be a dormitory – remains. By 1826, over 100 boys were attending the school, becoming well enough known to be visited by the Marquis de Lafayette in 1825. The school was relocated to White Sulphur Springs (also a farm owned by Colonel Johnson) in 1831. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Read more about the site from the Kaintuckeean’s earlier post on the Choctaw Indian Academy.

Remaining structure of Choctaw Indian Academy. Photo by Amy Palmer.

Woodford County – Versailles High School 

 Located on the corner of Maple Street and Lexington Pike in Versailles, the Versailles High School is a substantial structure built in 1928. The building operated as a high school for 35 years before becoming the Woodford County Junior High in 1963, operating as a middle school until being shuttered in 2005. After 77 years of continuous operation, the building has been empty for nearly 10 years.

With no known maintenance or preservation plan, concern exists that the historic Versailles High School will deteriorate from neglect and, ultimately, be demolished.

You can learn more about the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation on its website,

A House With A Story to Tell: The Willis Green House

Willis Green House – Danville, Ky.
Photo: The Blue Grass Trust

On a 2.5 acre plot of land in Danville sits a house steeped in Kentucky history. It is owned by a consortium of preservation-minded groups who purchased the property at auction earlier this year in order to save this important part of history. With preservation easements added, it is again for sale. Details of this wonderful, historic structure are available at

This is the story of those who lived here.

Willis Green House – Danville, Ky.
Photo: The Blue Grass Trust

While surveying a portion of central Kentucky, Willis Green found several thousand acres of land which pleased him greatly. He named his property Waveland after the “undulating terrain.” And it was here that he built his magnificent home around 1800 on the land which was held by the Green family nearly 130 years.

Willis Green

Headstone of Willis Green.
Photo by Yvonne at

The patriarch of this important Kentucky family was born around 1754 in Shenandoah County, Virginia, to Duff Green and Ann Willis. His maternal grandfather was Col. Henry Willis, the founder of Fredericksburg Virginia. But Willis was not content to remain in Virginia. He instead followed the call to head west into the wilderness of Kentucky.

Willis Green married fellow Virginian Sarah Reed on December 23, 1783, in “one of the first Christian marriages ever solemnized on Kentucky soil.” Together they located in a smaller home on Green’s acreage which was believed to have been located about 500 yards northwest of the historic site. Their fruitful marriage would yield a dozen children, each being born on the property.

It’s no surprise that Willis Green was involved in the earliest days of Kentucky’s statehood. His proximity to Danville gave him a front row seat to the nine constitutional conventions held there. But a front row seat was not enough for a man so committed to the Commonwealth.

Established with a family in Kentucky, Willis Green travelled back across the mountains to Richmond where he represented Kentucky County in the House of Delegates. Like so many Kentuckians of his day, Green believed in Jeffersonian democracy and pursued a more local governance for those Virginians living west of the Appalachians.

To these ends, Green participated in no fewer than two of the Kentucky Constitutional Conventions. His service included nearly thirty years as the Clerk of Lincoln County (1783-1813), with such term punctuated by three absences while he served as a judicial clerk twice for the Supreme Court of the Kentucky District and once for the Danville District Court. He was also involved in the Danville Political Club – a highly influential organization in which men discussed, and likely resolved, many issues of the day. Additionally, Willis Green served as one of the original trustees of the Transylvania Academy which was first located in Danville prior to its relocation to Lexington as the Transylvania College.

Willis Green departed this earth in 1813, leaving a life estate in Waveland to Sarah. Upon her death in 1816, the property was sold to their son, Judge John Green.

Judge John Green

Headstone of Judge John Green.
Photo by Yvonne at

John Green was the eldest son born to Willis and Sarah (Reed) Green, having been born in 1787. He studied the law under Henry Clay and was an aide-de-camp to Kentucky’s first governor, Isaac Shelby.

Governor Shelby was both the first and the fifth governor of Kentucky. During his second administration, the nation warred with Britain in the War of 1812. During this conflict, Shelby designated a number of important Kentuckians as his “aides-de-camp,” titles given to those attending a general officer. In Kentucky, aides-de-camp to the Commonwealth’s Governor are more regularly known as Kentucky Colonels. Among this honorable order, Judge John Green was among the first.

Judge Green served multiple terms in both houses of the General Assembly and was elected Circuit Judge. His first marriage was to Sarah Fry, the daughter of leading educator Joshua Fry. A second marriage was to Mary Marshall, the daughter of Capt. Thomas Marshall and niece of Supreme Court Justice John Marshall.

He was a “judge” by virtue of his service as a Circuit Judge. He also helped to establish both Centre College and the Kentucky School for the Deaf. When Henry Clay would visit the regions south of the Kentucky River, he would often stay at Waveland in the home of his friend, Judge Green.

Judge John Green died in 1838. Waveland, however, would remain within the family.

Dr. William Craig

Martha Eleanor Green, the youngest daughter of Willis and Sarah (Reed) Green, married Dr. William Craig. Craig, a native of Augusta County, Virginia, matriculated through Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) and learned medicine at Transylvania College and the School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Dr. Craig purchased his wife’s family’s estate upon the passing of her brother, Judge John Green in 1838.

Though a successful physician, Dr. Green was also active in the community having served in the state legislature and as president of the Branch Bank of Kentucky at Danville. A notable addition to Dr. Craig’s vitae was his role as one of the first trustee’s on the board of Centre College. He also helped to organize Anaconda, Danville’s literary and social club, in December 1839.

When Dr. Craig died in 1854, his son – “a capable gentleman farmer” – became the owner of Waveland.

John James Craig

Headstone of John J. Craig.
Photo by Karen at

After his father died, John James Craig acquired the estate on the outskirts of Danville known as Waveland. Born in 1832, J. J. Craig lived at Waveland for all of his days except the first six years of infancy. To be sure, he must have also fallen for the undulating terrain which had first captivated his grandfather. J.J. Craig married Amanda Goodloe on December 18, 1855 in the bride’s native Madison County.

Mr. Craig was widowed in 1908 when Amanda died and he passed away in 1914. The couple is buried at the Bellevue Cemetery in Danville.

Outside the Family

According to the property’s National Register application, the property was sold outside the Green-Craig family for the first time in 1924 when it was acquired by Mr. J.D. Erskine. The chain of family members who owned the property during the intervening 130 years since Willis Green first fell in love with the rolling terrain was broken.

Ruin Porn‘ of the Willis Green House – Danville, Ky.
Photo: The Blue Grass Trust

Waveland passed through the Erskine and Benedict families with little change. Martin and Dorotha Thompson purchased Waveland at the end of July 1975. It was entered on the National Register May 6, 1976.

After Mr. Thompson passed away the home was abandoned and has since deteriorated to its present condition.

Other Notable Occupants of Waveland

Lewis Warner Green
Photo: Centre College

And though they didn’t own Waveland, it was the home to a series of other notable members of the Green family. Chief among this list was the youngest son of Willis and Sarah (Reed) Green, Lewis Warner Green.

Born at Waveland in 1806, Lewis Warner Green was the youngest of Willis and Sarah’s twelve children. He was considered an orphan with his parents both having passed by the child’s tenth birthday. He was cared for by his much older brother and neither his stature nor studies suffered. His early tutelage was under both Joshua Fry and Duncan F. Robertson, but he was sent to the classical school (Buck Pond) in Woodford County at age thirteen.

He followed a short stint at Transylvania College in Lexington by attending Danville’s newly opened Centre College in 1822. In 1824, he was one of two members of Centre’s first graduating class.

Lewis Warner Green then went on to study law under his brother who had raised him, Judge John Green. Lewis must have found the practice of law unappealing, for he had soon shifted his professional training to medicine under the direction and advice of Dr. Ephraim McDowell.

Neither the law nor medicne nor theology retained Lewis’ interest professionally; his attendance at Princeton Theological Seminary lasted only a year. Even so, he would become a minister ordained in the Presbyterian Church. His return to Danville in 1832 was coupled with a professorship in both “belles-lettres and political economy.”

A two-year sabbatical through three European universities gave Lewis Green further opportunity to study theology, language, literature, Biblical archaeology, and natural sciences, before returning to the United States. Within a year, he would return to Danville as vice-president of Centre and as co-pastor of Danville Presbyterian Church.

In 1840, however, Rev. Dr. Green would leave Danville for another seventeen years passing through academia and pastorals in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. The familial call to Kentucky was strong and he returned here, first for a year as President of Transylvania University, and finally on January 1, 1858, to the presidency of Centre College.

Under Green’s leadership, Centre succeeded despite the hardships incumbent with an ongoing Civil War. A drop in attendance was never accompanied by a cancellation of classes. In nearby Perryville, a great battle of that War raged in October 1862 and after which battle Green’s campus was utilized as a hospital by both Armies.

The following May, 1863, Rev. Dr. Lewis Warner Green would die of illness. After his passing, the faculty of Centre passed a resolution calling Rev. Dr. Green “one of [Centre’s] oldest and warmest friends.”

Some of the most influential leaders in the history of Centre College, of Danville, and of the Commonwealth have called Waveland home. It is a treasure in Kentucky’s history.

Willis Green House nestled in a Danville, Ky. neighborhood.
Photo: Blue Grass Trust

For more photographs, please visit

Danville’s Willis Green House to be Auctioned … Saturday

Willis Green House – Danville, Ky. (Photo Source: Wilson Realty & Auction)

The Willis Green House in Danville, known as Waveland, will be the subject of an absolute auction this weekend (Saturday, June 8 @ 10:30 AM) (click here for auction flyer details). The property was listed in both 2009 and 2012 by The Blue Grass Trust on its Most Endangered Properties List.

Willis Green House – Danville, Ky. (Photo: email link)

The property was built in 1800 by Willis Green as part of a several hundred-acre farm. Green was an early settler of the Commonwealth having first arrived here as a surveyor in 1782. Green even represented Kentucky County in the Virginia Legislature. He and his wife, Sarah Reed, along with their 12 children, called Waveland home. It is said that the 1783 Green-Reed nuptials were “one of the first Christian marriages ever solemnized on Kentucky soil.”

Of the nine state constitutional conventions held in Danville, Green was a delegate at two. He was one of the original trustees of Transylvania Academy and was involved in the establishment of both Centre College (1819) and the Kentucky School for the Deaf (1822). From 1839-1845, Green served as a Whig in Congress as a representative from Kentucky.

It is a two-story, brick home in the Georgian style. Though vacant for decades and despite damage to windows, doors and a roof collapse, the interior woodwork – the product of Irish craftsmen from Philadelphia – remains intact and in good condition.

Those interested in the property may contact Barbara Hulette of Boyle Landmarks Trust, (859) 239-0038 or Bethany Rogers at the Heart of Danville, (859) 236-1990, with additional questions about the property.

Sources: The Blue Grass Trust, 2009; emailHerald-Leader; Wilson Realty

Two Churches and a School Added to the National Register

St. James AME Church – Danville, Ky.
Source: NRHP File, Ky. Heritage Council.

On January 23, 2013, the National Park Service approved three Kentucky sites for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Two of the properties are historic African-American churches in Danville while the third is a historically black high school in Hopkinsville that has been closed since the 1980s.

Danville’s Second Street Christian Church and St. James AME Church remain as the town’s only African American congregations meeting in their historic buildings. Previously, the area of Danville was predominately African-American, but 1970-era urban renewal decimated the neighborhood identity.

St. James AME, 124 E. Walnut St., was organized shortly after the Civil War and the present building was completed in 1882 in the Gothic Revival style. Alterations through 1922, including the loss of a bell tower, largely changed the style of the structure to one characterized as Colonial Revival. It is the oldest continuously used African American church in Danville. (NRHP File 12001198, courtesy Ky. Heritage Council).

Second Street Christian Church – Danville, Ky.
Source: NRHP File, Ky. Heritage Council.

The Second Street Christian Church, 228 S. 2nd St., was erected in 1908 out of the newly popular concrete block. This inexpensive building material could be given texture through the use of stamped block faces which were generally available, including through the Sears Roebuck catalogue. With the exception of the obviously filled-in arched window (done in the 1960s), the exterior of the church remains largely unchanged. Originally constructed as the New Mission Baptist Church, the building was purchased by the Colored Christian Church (now the Second Street Christian Church) in 1927. (NRHP File 12001197, courtesy Ky. Heritage Council).

Attucks High School – Hopkinsville, Ky.
Source: Crispus Attucks Comm. Assoc.

Hopkinsville’s first African American school, the Attucks High School, 712 1st St., was built in 1906. In 1957, Christian County schools began the integration process which resulted in the conversion of this building to an integrated middle school in 1967. Since 1988, it has been vacant though an effort is underway to convert the historic structure into a community center. The materials of the two-story brick school were reclaimed from the Clay Street School and reformed into the present largely Italian Renaissance style structure at a cost of $17,640. The architect was John T. Waller and construction was completed by the Forbes Manufacturing Company  (NRHP File 12001199, courtesy Ky. Heritage Council).

“Preserving Boyle County for Generations to Come”: The Boyle Landmark Trust

Merchant’s Row – Perryville, Ky.

Last autumn, our collective attention turned to Boyle County. Within one week, this small central Kentucky county hosted both 2,000 Civil War reenactors and thousands more visitors for the Battle of Perryville’s sesquicentennial celebration as well as the hundreds of political and media luminaries assembled for the Vice-Presidential Debate.

The national attention received in October 2012 is not new for either Boyle County or its seat of government, Danville. The area’s history, for Kentuckians, is richer still.

Danville was the home to Kentucky’s first courthouse, the first U.S. post office west of the Alleghenies, and the ten Constitutional conventions which culminated in Kentucky becoming the fifteenth state (or fourth commonwealth) in the Union. The Virginia legislature established Danville five years before Kentucky achieved statehood. Lexington’s Transylvania University originated in Danville. Centre College was chartered in 1819.

Without a doubt, the history of Boyle County is rich.

And so, in 1971, the Boyle Landmark Trust (“BLT”) was organized “to put back into use historical structures so that they may better serve our community and illuminate their important educational, social and cultural function.” BLT was organized by Cecil Dulin Wallace whose wife, Lily, would lead BLT for over a quarter century. The original “landmark” was Mrs. Wallace’s family home – the Cambus-Kenneth House – had been won in a hand of cards by Dr. Ephraim McDowell years before.

Perryville’s Merchant’s Row was the first major project for the BLT. These beautiful structures stand at the heart of a historic crossroads and were recently revitalized once again through the Main Street Perryville Program. But without the earlier work of the BLT, historic Perryville might not have survived the twentieth century.

More recently, the BLT has continued its decades long restoration of the Willis Russell House. Long owned by various local organizations committed to its preservation, the BLT has informed the public about this historic property.

“People here in Danville had seen this log structure, didn’t even know what it was, had no idea what it was about, the history of it. They hadn’t been in it. It’s just been kind of lying dormant for a number of years,” said Barbara Hulette, the President of the Boyle Landmark Trust in an interview with WUKY-FM. Hulette, of course, is no stranger to The Blue Grass Trust; she was very involved in this organization prior to her move to Danville several years ago. Since, she has shown her dedication to historic beyond Fayette County in Boyle County and elsewhere. For these efforts, Hulette received the 2012 John Wesley Hunt Award from the BGT.

Willis Russell House – Danville, Ky.

Under Hulette’s leadership, the BLT has continued its efforts. Earlier this year, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet placed a historic roadside marker in front of the Willis Russell House, located at 204 East Walnut Street. Not surprisingly, the funds for this historical marker were raised and secured through the efforts of the Boyle Landmark Trust.

Russell had been a slave owned by Lieutenant Robert Edward Craddock who had served in the Revolutionary War. Craddock’s will, probated in 1837, emancipated his slaves and provided some of them, including Russell, with land. Willis Russell received a ca. 1794 log house in the town of Danville as well at 509 acres on the waters near the Rolling Fork River. It was in his home where Mr. Russell opened a Danville’s first school for African American children.

The work of Mrs. Wallace, and of those of the Boyle Landmark Trust who have and will continue to follow her path, continues to preserve “Boyle County for generations to come.”

This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Preservation Matters, a tri-annual publication of the Blue Grass Trust.

The BGT’s Eleventh Hour Endangered Properties List

Since 1999, the Blue Grass Trust has created an annual list of “Eleven [historic properties] in Their Eleventh Hour.” Each property is selected on the following criteria: historic significance, proximity to proposed or current development, lack of protection from demolition, condition of structure, and architectural significance.

The BGT’s goal of highlighting these properties is to find long-term solutions to preserve them for generations to come.

In no specific order, the BGT has announced this year’s “Eleven in Their Eleventh Hour” this morning at the Hunt-Morgan House.

  • Greyhound Station on Loudon Avenue, Lexington. 
  • Old Fayette County Courthouse, Lexington.
  • Willis Green House, Danville.
  • Good Shepherd Church, Frankfort.
  • 151 Constitution Street, Lexington.
  • Ligon and Matthews Houses, Lexington.
  • First Baptist Church, Lexington.
  • 601 Boonesboro Ave., Lexington.
  • I-75 Connector Corridor, rural Jessamine and Madison Counties.
  • 412 W. Third and 445 W. Second, Lexington.
More information about each of these properties can be found in the January 2013 issue of Preservation Matters, a tri-annual publication of the BGT.

No Destination: First Courthouse

Replica of Kentucky’s original Courthouse

In Danville’s Constitution Square State Park sits a replica (erected 1942) of the original log courthouse for Virginia’s District of Kentucky. In the original, which was built c. 1784/85, the Constitutional Convention was held. This meeting led to the formation of Kentucky as an independent Commonwealth and a state of the Union, effective June 1, 1792.

The marker in front of this replica incorrectly states that the structure also housed the Supreme Court of Kentucky. In an attempt to see if people actually read my blog, please leave a comment to tell me why the marker is incorrect.

UPDATE (May 15, 2010): The marker is not entirely incorrect. The Supreme Court for the District of Kentucky was the appellate court for the District of Kentucky (part of Virginia) from 1785 until Kentucky became a state in 1792. And no one reads my blog as  evidenced by the lack of commenting…

No Destination: The Pioneer Playhouse

Notable alumni of Boyle County’s Pioneer Playhouse include Lee Majors, Jim Varney and … John Travolta. I guess you could call it Kentucky’s Saturday Night Live as it has been a launching point for a few talented actors. 

Started by Col. Henson in 1950, it is the oldest outdoor theater in the state and was the first theater designated a “state theater” by the General Assembly (1962). According to its official history, Col. Henson used “unorthodox ways” to construct his playhouse:

He once bartered a fifth of whiskey for hand-hewn two hundred-year-old rafter beams and hired prisoners from the local county jail to help him lay the first foundations. 

I’d love to see a show at the Pioneer; the 2010 schedule is available here.

No Destination: Perryville Mass Grave

In western Boyle County lies the community of Perryville, the site of Kentucky’s largest Civil War battle. On October 8, 1862, Union and Condederate forces each suffered heavy casualties as the Union army repelled Confederate forces out of Kentucky.

CSA Gen. Bragg, on a mission to secure supplies from Bardstown, was forced into battle near Perryville by a larger force of Union troops under the direction of USA Gen. Buell sent to stop the advancing Rebels. The first casualties, however, were not caused by musketfire – but by heat and sunstroke. The high temperatures and drought conditions left insufficient water for both soldier and steed.

Once the daylong battle was over, the dying – both CSA and USA – were transported to neighboring communities for treatment.  The dying lingered for months. As was the case following the Battle of Mill Springs, locals knew not what to do with the Confederate dead and a mass grave was dug. From the Perryville Enhancement Project:

As Union troops hastily buried their own dead in regimental plots, local residents were left to inter the dead Confederates. Local farmer, cabinetmaker and justice of the peace Henry P. Bottom, whose property was strewn with corpses, buried a majority of the Southern soldiers. With several field hands and neighbors, Bottom buried several hundred Confederates in two large pits. This mass grave is located in what is now the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site.

This is a full post for one of the locales visited on my June 5, 2009 No Destination journey.