Gardens to Gables

Thirty Years Old and Still Relevant: McAlester’s Field Guide to American Houses

Every profession has its own language and often, its own genre of books. I may be a bit partial, but the books I’ve known and loved dealing with architectural history must be among the best non-fiction tomes ever published. Naming just a small selection of Read More

Flowers for Decoration Day

There is a very short and magical period in the Bluegrass where, if you are a gardener, all is right with the world. For me, that time is right now. The aching heat of summer has not yet engulfed us; the frenetic activity associated with Read More

The Demise of Hempstead, Fayette County, Kentucky

Long before its association with clothing, chocolates, or the civil disobedience of actor Woody Harrelson, hemp (without the prefix “industrial”) was a mainstay of Kentucky agriculture. One of my ancestors grew hemp on his Montgomery County farm decades before the Civil War, and in 1869 Kentucky produced Read More

Kentucky Places: Wolf Creek, Meade County

From my earliest days as a denizen of backseat land, watching the world unfold from the car window, I’ve been a careful observer of place names.* Road signs, heralding a waterway or community, were carefully transcribed by me in my ever-present sketch pad or notebook, to Read More

Farm or Movie Set? The Barns of Castle Knoll Farm, Indiana

My perception of barns took a sharp detour during the short time I lived north of the Mason-Dixon line in Pennsylvania. There, the complexity, grandeur, and beauty of what is known as the Pennsylvania barn* completely changed my understanding of this most visible of agricultural outbuildings. Read More

Ghent Baptist Church, Carroll County, Kentucky

The vernacular front gable church with two entry doors has great appeal to a wide audience. I love the simplistic, almost austere beauty of these buildings. As a historic type, they were built in Kentucky through almost every stylistic period and decade, up into the Read More

Change is the Only Constant: The Story of One House in West Louisville

Historic communities are, by their very existence, full of contrast – even if that diversity goes unseen by the modern viewer. I imagine there are many people who see West Louisville as a single neighborhood, unified only by economic disparity, fear of violence, and boarded-up buildings Read More

The House Doctor: Remembering Scot Walters

I entered the world of historic preservation fresh from college, armed with my English and Art History degree, a love of old houses – and not much else. I knew virtually nothing. Worse, I really had no concept of how buildings work. Fortunately, I met Read More

Dutch Colonial Revival “Twins,” Mt. Sterling, Kentucky

Have you ever noticed two historic houses side-by-side and thought they looked identical? “Twin” dwellings are common in early 20th century residential development in many Kentucky towns – often an example of small scale speculative development. Pattern books and catalogs from titans of the “mail-order Read More

The Abel Gabbard House, Sandgap, Jackson County, Kentucky

On June 10, 1886, a post office was established at a crossroads in northwestern Jackson County, Kentucky, and the community around it christened “Collinsworth.” This wasn’t the birth of the village, for it had been around well before the Civil War, but a post office Read More