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 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 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.
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.
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.