Friday, September 12, 2014

Federal Hill, My Old Kentucky Home

Our plan for the day was to check out My Old Kentucky Home, made famous by Stephen Foster's song ... or maybe it was the other way around.  A former plantation built by U. S. Senator and Judge John Rowan in 1795 on land given to him by his in-laws, actually called Federal Hill, it became a meeting place for politicians and dignitaries of the time.  Stephen Foster was his cousin and supposedly wrote his song about this home.  Although he did stay here, it was thought since he lost his home as a child, that he was always looking for "his old Kentucky home".  It is also thought this is the first brick house in the State of Kentucky.
There's a short walk down a brick path to the front door.  Along the way, you pass the cemetery where the entire family is buried.  On one occasion of a large family dinner, eight people died of cholera, including three of his children.  When the judge died, his son John Jr. inherited the house.  Upon his death, his widow Rebecca lived in it until 1897, when it was passed to her daughter Madge, who sold it to the State in 1920.
This statue is placed in the garden in the honor of Stephen Foster.  Among other interesting tidbits, the good Judge Rowan loved to drink and play cards in the local tavern, where he got into an argument with Dr. James Chambers, they say over who could speak the classical languages best.  Chambers challenged Rowan to a duel, which in the end, resulted in Chambers death.  Although vigilantes tried to capture Rowan, he escaped by dressing one of his slaves in his coat and hat and riding away on his horse.  Both survived and Rowan was never charged with murder.  Shortly after, he moved to Frankfurt Kentucky and his son took over the property.
Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed.  Not that I remembered to bring mine!!  I was so engrossed in my new antique-store treasures (another story), that I completely forgot to take it!!   The three story house caught fire after being struck by lighting, burning part of the third floor, which was repaired, but is now unavailable to visitors.  Unlike other homes we have visited, this one had no electricity or running water (hence no bathrooms) until purchased by the State.  What Mr. Rowan DID have, was slaves.  The slave cemetery is at the far end of the garden.  Out the back door in a side building is the kitchen, as you see here.  No stove, no sink, again no water, just a fireplace for cooking.  There was no jumping into the future in this house!!  
Next to the kitchen was the smokehouse where meat was butchered, stored in a canoe-like boat to be salted for a few days, then hung in cheesecloth to dry while fires were stoked below.
Immediately next to the smokehouse was the carriage house ... garage for three nice wagons and that beautiful red, green and white lap robe.  
The interior of the house was completely renovated in 2007, with reproductions of the wildest wallpaper you've ever seen, along with some vibrant graphic carpeting.  The house was in disrepair when received by the State, and pictures were not taken of the design elements in each room, so what you see is based on other homes of the wealthy in the area and times.  I tried to get a picture of the brilliantly colored green carpet, but the docent absolutely refused.  Although these are not the exact papers that were on the wall, they are very close ... I found these images on the internet. 
Imagine the entire room with this paper on the walls ... and brilliant red geometric carpeting!  Yikes!!  It was pretty crazy to say the least!!  Which gives me an idea ... I have a spare bedroom .............
From Federal Hill we went out geocaching ... I need one from every State I visit to get an icon in my geocaching bucket.  The stories of these are all so interesting!!  As you can see, this is the oldest cobblestone paved road, or trace as it were, in Kentucky.  Originally a dirt road, it was improved for military use.  Wagons coming and going in Bardstown were able to pass on the major artery.  Eventually it was relegated to horse and now foot traffic.
It's extremely hard to walk on with a fashion-statement boot and part of the hill has slid off down the side, but you can definitely imagine wagons and horses coming and going from Bardstown!!  Most people never see this little piece of history, as it's not on the tourist maps.
Guess what time it is????   It's Halloween time ... I know because I found my all time favorite cookies in Walmart ... Halloween Oreos!!!  Time to get my motorhome decorating juices flowing!!
Speaking of which, there was a nice spooky harvest moon the other night.  Making it even better, the temperature dropped about ten degrees last night, so it even feels like Fall!!  Today we head further south to Nashville to get our country music fix!!

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