Gardens to Gables

Artist Dreams: Falling in Love with Paducah’s Lowertown

I fall in love with a different house (or sometimes a commercial or industrial building) at least once a week. Madly, passionately, head-over-heels in love, with blissful, giddy thoughts of scraping paint, refinishing floors, and restoring the overgrown yard to my platonic ideal of an English Cottage Garden in Kentucky. My latest crush is the historic Smedly-Yesier House in the Lowertown neighborhood of Paducah.

The historic Smedly-Yeiser House, in all of its central passage, double pile glory...

The historic Smedly-Yeiser House, in all of its central passage, double pile glory…

Lowertown is Paducah’s oldest neighborhood, annexed by the city in 1836. In 2002, Paducah embarked on a creative revitalization plan of the Lowertown district (chock full of amazing historic buildings, but somewhat neglected since the mid-20th century) with its Artist Relocation Program. Vacant lot in Lowertown? Historic houses that need some love? For $1, the city said, it can be yours if you stay here, produce art, and fix up the building (or build something on that lot). And it has worked – getting all sorts of national and international attention as a model for using the arts to promote economic development, and transforming Lowertown.*

These signs are used to promote the Artist Relocation Program and the buildings that need loving & saving.

These signs are used to promote the Artist Relocation Program and the buildings that need loving & saving.

The Smedly-Yeiser House is still waiting…(and I am not holding my breath that it will be me who will transform this lovely Greek Revival house). Built for a wharfboat captain and commission merchant named Captain William Smedley betwen 1854 and 1871 (I would say late 1850s, early 1860s), the house was later owned by two-time Paducah mayor David Yeiser.

Looking at the side elevation and facade of the Smedly-Yeiser House, where you can see the striking cornice with dentils and paired brackets.

Looking at the side elevation and facade of the Smedly-Yeiser House, where you can see the striking cornice with dentils and paired brackets.

The three-bay wide facade is dominated by the central entry door, which is a celebration of  the Greek Revival. Sidelights, transom, pilasters, inset panels, dentils – OK, I know I sound infatuated. But the door pops out in stark relief to the otherwise restrained facade ( made even more so by the low profile of the one-story brick house), and it makes me want to sing!

It's not hyperbole - it really is lovely.

It’s not hyperbole – it really is lovely.

I am now attempting to brainstorm various plans that will turn me into an artist. Also, I need a job in Paducah while I develop my artistic talents.  Suggestions or donations are welcome – I already have a grand vision of the garden I will install, and multiple glasses of lemonade that will enjoyed on the broad front porch…

* A great story about the Artist Relocation Program was on NPR in 2013.

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One Thought on “Artist Dreams: Falling in Love with Paducah’s Lowertown

  1. Janet Johnson on May 10, 2015 at 9:46 pm said:

    I have faith in your artistic abilities!

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