Demolition Files: Hedgeland, Madison County, Kentucky (1815-2017)

In the mid-19th century, it became popular in rural America for farmers of a certain class to name their farms – usually with evocatively pastoral names – sometimes referencing landscape elements found at the site. The Cedars, Elmwood, Mt. Pleasant: all names of Bluegrass farms that crop up often. Hedgeland, though, is not one I’ve heard more than once – and I won’t see the house of that name again.  The Federal and Greek Revival style house located along Route 52 in Madison County, Kentucky, was demolished in July.

The facade (since 1850) of Hedgeland.

As I wrote a blog post yesterday morning, I used some photographs of Hedgeland to illustrate my point. A few hours after the post went up, I learned on Instagram that the brick house was torn down only last month.

A 1974 view of the house – it was tenant-occupied at the time.

I stopped at Hedgeland four years ago, on my way to Paint Lick. The house made a striking impression alongside the road.

A portion of the 1876 Atlas of Madison County, showing the location of the house.

The original portion of the house was a five-bay wide, 1.5 story (the upper level no more than a loft) brick dwelling on a stone foundation. The facade was laid in Flemish bond, and the arrangement of the windows and door suggests it was perhaps a hall/parlor plan dwelling.

The original house became the ell to a new addition in 1850.

The original section of the house was, according to some accounts, built by Joseph Miller around 1815. The Miller family were early settlers in Madison County, and the county seat of Richmond was established in 1798 on land owned by Colonel John Miller, one of the first state representatives from the county (and perhaps the father of the builder of this house). It was a Federal-style dwelling, with a lovely cornice, jackarches over the windows and door, and a stone foundation. The 9/6 windows looked to be original.

Here you see some interesting additions to the original house/ell, including the standard enclosed porch, but then some rather creatively shaped walls and dormers…

The house was re-oriented in 1850 to the northeast with the addition of two-story, three bay wide portion, central passage portion which then became the new facade of the house. The facade of the new house was also laid in Flemish bond (which was slightly old-fashioned by 1850), and it sat on a raised basement, with a central doorway framed by fluted Doric columns and pilasters. There was three light transom above the entry door, and four-light sidelights. A one-story portico framed the central entryway – the most obvious bow to the Greek Revival style popular at the time.

Unfortunately, this is the only photo I have with a detail of the entryway…Photo by William J. Macintire.

The 1850 expansion is credited to John Harrison Miller, who lived here with his wife, Patsy Irvine Field (she was the descendant of another pioneer Kentucky family). The couple married on August 12, 1834, and in 1850 they had seven children: Elizabeth (14), Martha (13), James (10), E.H.F. Miller (8), Amelia (6), Julia (4), Mary (a baby).

A detail of the “new” facade of Hedgeland.

The Miller farm was large and prosperous, and by 1860, their son James was working with his father on the farm. But ten years later, Patsy was a widow at only 52 years old. It is unclear how much longer the house remained in the family – the records I had access to didn’t include a chain of title. Both James and his brother, E.Field Miller, appear to have moved to Mississippi and become “planters.”

From the December 18, 1889 edition of the Richmond Climax. E. Field Miller died in 1891 at the age of 49 years.

I did come across an auction of the J. B. Miller farm in 1904, so it may be that the Miller estate was settled by that time.

From the September 7, 1904 edition of the Richmond Climax.

When the house was first documented in 1974, it was a tenant house for the farm. When I saw it in 2013, it had been vacant for some time.

I don’t have any details about the demolition of the house, or future plans for the site – I was told that the bricks were going to be reused, but I don’t know if any interior details were salvaged. Sadly, none of the documentation compiled over the years and on file at the Kentucky Heritage Council included interior photographs of the house or a floor plan.

Another vestige of rural Kentucky architecture has been lost, and a missed opportunity for my Preservation SWAT team – but I do take some small comfort in the fact that I stopped there once and can write this inadequate remembrance. Hedgeland, then, is not completely forgotten.



*Hedgeland was recorded as MA-135 at the Kentucky Heritage Council, State Historic Preservation Office.

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  1. Berle Clay says:

    An interesting letter from Patsey to Anne Clay in 1850 indicates how isolated this housesite was…they had to ford the creek to get to it…swim horses when water was up or go to Moran’s mill and cross in a boat…etc. This letter indicates they were about ready to start work on the addition.

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      You know, that is so funny that you mention that, because I wondered how long after her husband’s death she stayed out there? Although it is a fast-growing part of the county now, it would have seemed like the middle of nowhere to her. I think she moved to Richmond shortly after his death.

  2. SaraVard Von Gruenigen says:

    A wonderful read. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      Thank you for reading!

  3. Toni wells says:

    Thank you for this!!! I’d love to get involved in your work. Contact me any time if you’d like a history nerd to tag along and help with research. I’d love to help document places like this and engage in efforts to preserve them! This would have made an excellent b&b to the right investor!! Again, thank you for your work!

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      Thank you so much for reading and for the offer of help! Getting a Preservation SWAT team together would take contacts across Kentucky – so if you hear or know of a threatened historic building, let me know and maybe we can team up to document it.

  4. patricia clark says:

    count me in as someone who would love to be part of the preservation swat team or just help with research, etc. thanks for publishing this.

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      Thanks! The first step is just learning about threatened resources – so if you know of some in your neck of the woods, let me know!

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