Gardens to Gables

The Hansford B. Ferguson House, Morgan County, Kentucky

I’ve often found myself hiking along creeks for several miles to reach a historic house site, far removed from the current road network. Invariably, these hikes have been at the height of summer, with all the joy that entails in Kentucky’s humidity… My temporary discomfort, however, forces me to consider historic transportation routes, and how new roads have not only shaped the landscape but also altered what we now see. Sometimes, it is ridiculously easy, especially when you find a creek flowing alongside the road, and what appears to be the rear elevation of a house facing the current road.

I was first drawn to the very vertical cedars framing the corner of the house, and then I noticed that the ell was facing the road...

I was first drawn to the very vertical cedars framing the corner of the house, and then I noticed that the ell was facing the road…

Creek beds are the original roadways of many rural Kentucky communities, and this frame T-plan house was constructed facing the creek, which served as the main path in and out. What I was seeing was the back porch and original back yard of the house.

Cindas Creek flows alongside Highway 172 in this part of Morgan County, Kentucky.

Cindas Creek flows alongside Highway 172 in this part of Morgan County, Kentucky.

A T-plan is a house form that has the shape of a T if viewed from above. Although T-plan is the name we use in Kentucky, terminology depends on geographic location – some folks call this type a “gable and wing.” It is essentially a central passage plan with one room flanking the central hall moved forward, resulting in the plane of the facade being broken, or uneven. It gained the house another room without changing what had become a favorite house type (the central passage) in rural Kentucky. My penchant for stopping the car in the middle of the road to take a photograph often subjects me to curious looks, but this time, I also benefited from meeting someone who knew the story of the picturesque house.

Hansfrod B. Ferguson built this house on Cindas Creek. Photograph courtesy of Timothy Ferguson.

Hansford B. Ferguson built this house on Cindas Creek. He is standing in front of the original facade. Photograph courtesy of Timothy Ferguson.

A log house occupied this creek side site originally, but between 1913 and 1917, Hansford B. Ferguson had this two-story house built, with porches on the front and along the back.

The original front of the house. When the new road went through, the house was reoriented, and the downstairs porch was enclosed.

The original front of the house. When the new road went through, the house was reoriented, and the downstairs porch was enclosed.

It was a substantial house, with plenty of room for the Ferguson family – in 1920, Hansford, a farmer, and his wife, Junie, had five children. The house had a two-story porch on the front, with lovely spindlework, a holdover from the late-19th century. I’ve actually seen two other houses in Morgan County with this type of ornamentation, and to my delight, I learned that a man named Pleasant Weaver, a carpenter who lived in nearby Elk Fork, was the carpenter. The names of the craftsman (and it was usually men at this point in history) are often lost, so this detail was especially exciting. Another carpenter, Edward Hill, also worked on the house.

A detail of the intricate balustrade and frieze on the porch.

A detail of the intricate balustrade and frieze on the porch.

The Ferguson Cemetery is just up the road from the house, where I found Hansford and Junie, peaceful on a hillside next to a church that hasn’t been used in years. I’ve always thought that those born in the last part of the 19th century witnessed such a changed world if they lived into the middle twentieth century. Quiet rural communities emptied out as residents sought work outside of farming, which didn’t provide for families as it might have decades earlier.

Hansford’s home, as it stands above the creek, is a poignant reminder of so many similar Kentucky houses and families over the years. The dwelling will probably never again be a home, but I find the phrase on Hanford’s grave suitably appropriate for its story: Gone to a bright home where grief cannot come.

The grave of Hansford and his wife Junie.

The grave of Hansford and his wife Junie.

 

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19 Thoughts on “The Hansford B. Ferguson House, Morgan County, Kentucky

  1. jack O'DONNELL on February 10, 2016 at 3:08 pm said:

    ms. brothers

    I have just read the sunday herald leader article about you and your work. i am hoping you and your readers can help me.

    I have recently take apart 2 cabins 1890 and 1901, in Millville, woodford co., built with board and batten poplar planks for walls. each house was buried by 5 additions, roofs, and 3 layers of siding.

    I took photos of the process which I did by myself. no one is in photos. I would like to make a slide show of the deconstruction which when reversed shows the construction process.

    I am not skilled at this photo editing process and I was wonder if you knew someone who did that sort of work.

    also I am doing a reconstruction of an outbuilding which I can discern it’s original purpose. 4 windowless rooms 8’x8′ w/ doors on same side . the metal roof extends on one gable end, making a out of the rain work space. an added bonus was a 2 seater outhouse up against one side of the building. that was a more together era.

    • Janie-Rice Brother on February 13, 2016 at 12:55 pm said:

      Jack,
      If you have photos of the outbuilding you mention taken before it was taken down, I would love to see them. As far as photo editing, I am no expert – but it might all depend on what sort of computer and operating system you are running. There are free photo editing programs available for download. I’ll send you an email. Thanks for reading!

  2. David Ames on February 10, 2016 at 4:32 pm said:

    Very nice

  3. Rogers Barde on February 10, 2016 at 5:00 pm said:

    I love the way you do this. I love the pictures, your personal take on what is going on, the good information you have – I always learn something – and a chance to see something lovely that I wouldn’t see otherwise. Thank you.

  4. tanya blevins on February 11, 2016 at 10:23 am said:

    Thats my family cemetery, I went to that church when I was little with my gma and gmpa Gladys, and a Guar Ferguson, it was so nice and peaceful all my family in one little church and over to gmas house for lunch, I so love and cherish those memories

  5. Cora Ferguson McClurg on February 11, 2016 at 1:32 pm said:

    I went to the little church on Paint too as a child. Gladys and Guar Ferguson my grandparents. We have a cousin around my age who’s name is also Hansford Ferguson. Enjoyed reading this!

  6. Larry Ferguson on February 11, 2016 at 5:57 pm said:

    I showed this article to my father James Ferguson. Mr Hansford Ferguson is my fathers Great Uncle. He spent a lot of time at this house as a child and enjoyed this article very much. He says you are 100% correct on all of your data. My father said he has gotten a drink from the old well many times as a child. My grandfather was Lonnie Ferguson. Mr Hansford was my grandfathers uncle

    Larry Ferguson

    • Janie-Rice Brother on February 11, 2016 at 6:21 pm said:

      Oh, great! I am glad you and your father enjoyed it. I had a good time talking with Mr. Timothy Ferguson and learning about Hansford.

  7. Darick Brown on February 11, 2016 at 9:17 pm said:

    Hansford (Hamp) is my Great Grandfather. I didn’t know this was his house until I read your article.

  8. Jeffrey Ferguson on February 13, 2016 at 10:14 am said:

    This is also my Great Grand Father and Mother. My Grandfather was Fred. One of the nicest men I ever met. I was there the day My Uncle Tim shared this information with Miss Brother. Loved hearing about those times.

    • Janie-Rice Brother on February 13, 2016 at 12:52 pm said:

      Jeff, I hope your uncle got to read this – I sent him an email about it. Thanks again for stopping me that day and introducing me!

      • Everyone including Tim was very pleased. I think his grandson Alex found it. Awesome job. Very classy. Everyone in the family (and there’s a lot of grandkids and great grandkids and a few great great) loved it. Thank You!! We could have a best selling book or books if we could know just the daily stories of that house. It has always had a special attraction for me.

  9. Rob Skaggs on February 14, 2016 at 11:57 pm said:

    Hansford B Ferguson was my great great Grandfather (through Chloie) very cool to read this article about his home.

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