Gardens to Gables

Marshall House or White Hall, Augusta, Bracken County, Kentucky

Last spring I spent a lovely sunny afternoon exploring the town of Augusta – and the breadth and quality of the historic architecture just took my breath away. A large Federal-style house set within a lawn gleaming blue with violets caught my fancy, and I lingered there several minutes, drinking in the beautiful sight.

The Martin Marshall House, built between 1810-1825.

The 2.5 story brick house possesses a number of stylistic features that are as impressive today as they would have been in the early 19th century. Martin Marshall, to whom the house is attributed in most records, was a native of Virginia and lawyer. His law practice must have flourished to allow the construction of such a stately dwelling.

A detail of the facade (south elevation) which is identical to the north elevation. The latter , which faces the river, was likely originally the facade.

A number of features are worth noting. Paired gable end chimneys aren’t that common in Kentucky, though stepped, gable end parapet walls are a defining characteristic of 19th century architecture in nearby Maysville, Kentucky. The entryways on the north and south elevations are both slightly recessed, with elliptical fanlights and a sandstone, keystone arch above. The sandstone lintels of the 6/6 windows have incised corner blocks.

A three quarter view of the house.

The cornice, with its delicate brackets and dentils, is especially lovely. The dwelling has also gone by the name “White Hall” over the years, and various sources differ about the date of construction and the original owner (a sign says the house was built by Arthur Thome in 1809). The home may have been a stop on the Underground Railroad, and the Marshall family was related to General George C. Marshall.

A circa 1897 view of the house, from the Northern Kentucky view website

The house was seized as part of a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) investigation several years ago, and the house is showing some signs of wear, but has lost none of its restrained elegance.

 

 

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5 Thoughts on “Marshall House or White Hall, Augusta, Bracken County, Kentucky

  1. Daniel Prater on January 30, 2017 at 9:33 am said:

    A most interesting and engaging house…..Thank you for posting!

  2. David Ames on January 30, 2017 at 11:12 am said:

    Very nice — and substantial! I am struck by the number of windows in the gable end — two per room. Is that standard? The identical front and rear doors are interesting. Was it designed to have a formal garden in rear? Did you get inside?

    • Janie-Rice Brother on February 1, 2017 at 8:39 am said:

      No, that is not a standard arrangement, but it is double pile, which is also not as common in KY as single pile houses. I believe the house originally faced the Ohio River – I couldn’t get a photograph of that elevation, because that would have meant going into what is now the back yard. Sadly, I only observed it from the street. I talked to a man who lives nearby and I think it is empty (pending the DEA investigation/lawsuits/etc.). It is really an intriguing dwelling – I would love to go inside!

      • David Ames on February 1, 2017 at 9:39 am said:

        OK that makes sense on the identical front and back entrances with front formal entrance the river side being the “garden” entrance. These variations within a standard model are so fascinating.

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