Gardens to Gables

Mystery House in Crab Orchard, Lincoln County, Kentucky

Researching historic buildings is still an exercise that involves books (usually old and in the case of deed books, with varying levels of legible handwriting), lots of conversation (if you are lucky!), and patience. I employ many tactics to tease out the story of buildings for my day job, a luxury I can’t always indulge in for my blog. But the beauty of this medium is that somewhere out there is someone who might recognize a mystery building, and help me fill in the gaps…such as I encountered during a recent stop in Crab Orchard, Kentucky.

Looking southeast at the dwelling.

If the clock allows, I always try to take a roundabout way home when I am out in the field for work, avoiding the Interstate and the improved state roads that have been widened and cut through farmland. I consult my Gazetteer or Kentucky atlas (paper maps!) and stick to the old roads. Then, when I see something interesting, I can stop to take some photographs.

Looking northeast. This is the first view I had of the house from my windshield.

Interesting doesn’t even begin to cover the allure of this early 19th century house. Despite its garage-like veneer, this substantial brick house built on a portion of the Wilderness Trail (US 150) was clearly once a lovely dwelling. Plywood painted red covers most of the openings, and an equipment shed juts out from the original facade, but I still slammed on the brakes.

Flemish bond brickwork on a house in Montgomery County, Kentucky.

The house appears to have been built in two phases, both brick, and both three bays wide. The northern side, which has a higher ridgeline, has what appears to be a window/window/door fenestration pattern, but tractors obscured most of my view. The brick on this portion is laid in a Flemish bond pattern (stretcher/header/stretcher), which was typical of many (high-style) dwellings built in the Federal style in Kentucky.

Section of the 1879 Beers and Lanagan Atlas of Lincoln and Garrard Counties. Kentucky.

But what is the story of this house and its fall from grace?

My usual sources of information failed me. Lincoln County, despite its rich history, is woefully under-documented, due to a number of survey projects undertaken there having ill-luck in being successfully completed – either the information was never submitted to the state, or all of the film was exposed – the reasons are numerous.

One historic source did reveal (see above) that the dwelling could possibly have been the home of J. Guest in 1879. The 1870 census records a Jacob Guest living in Crab Orchard; a 69-year old farm born in Virginia, he was comfortably off, with his real estate valued at $10,000, and his personal estate at $17,000.00.

A not-so-great detail of the facade of the northern portion of the dwelling.

If this was a project I was undertaking for my day job, I would head back to Lincoln County and start chatting up folks in Crab Orchard, and spend some quality time in Stanford at the Courthouse. Alas, my curiosity alone does not provide my family and me with a paycheck, so for now I am at a dead-end…submitting this to the ether in hopes that someone reading this may know something about this mystery house along the road…

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21 Thoughts on “Mystery House in Crab Orchard, Lincoln County, Kentucky

  1. Melissa smith on December 11, 2017 at 4:16 pm said:

    I played in this old house with my cousins when I was a child. My papaw Bud Martin and his sons worked on the farm. There use to be a stripping the field behind the house. Where we also spent a lot of hours playing and helping strip tobacco.

  2. Marshall Scott on December 11, 2017 at 5:11 pm said:

    I am current owner of mystery House in Crab Orchard. My family has owned house since early 1930s. It was a two family dwelling duplex until the early 1960s. I was told by a person that it was a tavern on the wilderness Road of course early in its life. I have no idea of construction date.

  3. My husband is from Crab Orchard and I know exactly the house. Let me see if his grandmother knows anything, she’s almost 80, but very sharp

  4. Kimberly on December 11, 2017 at 6:31 pm said:

    The owner of Poor Mans Gun shop across the road owns. His name is Marshall Scott.

  5. John Scott on December 11, 2017 at 6:57 pm said:

    My family owns that house and has for about ~40 years. Next time you are in town or through there stop at the house across the road and talk to us. There is a sign in the yard that has Poor Boys Gun Shop on it. My father lives in that house and knows a little history on it.

  6. Charles on December 11, 2017 at 7:29 pm said:

    This house belongs to a Marshall Scott at the present time. He lives directly across from it has a gun cleaning shop also

  7. Noman C. Reed on December 11, 2017 at 7:54 pm said:

    I’ve heard for many years that there was sister house built for one of the sons of William Whitley in or the crab orchard area!? The WW house is but a few miles from crab orchard itself and if I’m not mistaken it was built in the Flemish bond style also!? The Whitley house is supposed to be the first brick homes in Lincoln county!

    • Charley Brown on December 12, 2017 at 2:33 pm said:

      The William Whitley house was the first brick home built West of the Allegheny Mountains.The sister home you’re speaking of is a mile away from WW house.It used to belong to EC and Shelby Baker.They built their brick home in front of the 2nd WW structure.

  8. I know exactly where this is. I grew up in crab orchard. Marshall Scott owns this…

  9. William Hawkins on December 11, 2017 at 8:11 pm said:

    Looks utilitarian. Maybe a school

  10. Luzia Foster on December 11, 2017 at 9:14 pm said:

    This is listed in mrs. Finns book as Sid Duke home!

  11. Brenda Frye on December 11, 2017 at 11:33 pm said:

    There used to be a double wide that sat there also.my pastor at the time was steve casey .I used to babysit their kids .was long time ago

  12. Delighted to see information on this house I have driven past for years in route to Danville and beyond. Even since the “new” 150 hwy opened, I enjoy taking the scenic route. Looking forward to more history on the house coming to light.

  13. Charles Greene Manning on December 12, 2017 at 8:34 am said:

    I know this house really well,the current owner name is Marshall Scott and his family own house before him,I use to work inside that house doing tobacco work ,Charles Manning

  14. Anonymous on December 12, 2017 at 12:03 pm said:

    Marshal or John Scott should know about the history. They own the gun shop straight across the road.. Poor Boys Gun Shop.

  15. Deb Howard Thompson on December 12, 2017 at 12:50 pm said:

    My family is from Crab Orchard and I have always loved and admired this home. Would loved to have went inside.
    A story that my Aunt told me was that at one time it was owned, maybe built, by a doctor. His daughter was on a ladder hanging curtains after they had been washed. The girl lost her footing and fell from the ladder and broke her neck and died. My Aunt said that the family moved away shortly after. They couldn’t stand to live there anymore.
    My Aunt has since passed away. I know they moved to Crab Orchard from Harlan around 1929 so this story may have been one that she was told about the house.

  16. Mark Bryant on December 12, 2017 at 3:22 pm said:

    It belongs to Marshall Scott he is about mid 60’s that’s all I know about the place

  17. Imogene messer on December 15, 2017 at 10:09 am said:

    Wow lived here 12 yrs went by it almost everyday never knew! One of my neighbour she Ann vengeance may know more she told me of the old hotel that use to be there she even had a piece of its furniture;) good luck I’d like to follow this story as well

  18. Marshall Scott is the owner of the house you are speaking about. He lives in the White House across the road where the gun shop is if you would like to talk to him. He knows quite a bit of history on the farm and the house.

  19. Bonnie Brock Lee on December 15, 2017 at 1:11 pm said:

    My Dad was building On Depot St. In 1948. We rented the apt on the North side which was 1 very large room. The other apt was rented to a Flannery family. We lived there till Dad finished the house

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