Washington Street House, Campton, Wolfe County, Kentucky

The second story porch was what got me. That, and the roofline – gable on hip, with these curious gable attic dormers, festooned with brackets. Those elements and my penchant for deliberately getting lost  – or wandering down side streets – led me past this imposing late-19th century brick house in Campton, Kentucky.

Brick house in Campton, Kentucky.

The allure of the drive-by is understandable.*  You see an intriguing building, snap a photo, and then you can examine (or puzzle over) it later. But the satisfying mystery of the house you simply drive by is also very frustrating,  for unless secondary sources exist documenting its design or historic background, it seems fated to forever remain a mystery. And sadly, most of Eastern Kentucky has been neglected when it comes to the documentation of historic resources.

The recessed central bay with a two story porch (or portico, if you prefer) is not a common feature.

The form of this 2.5 story house  – its shape, the inset central portion of the facade, and the roof – is so compelling. Architectural historians love form and type – it helps us classify buildings, and by doing so, help understand the builder’s intent and what trends or patterns were occurring in the local community at the time of construction.

Another curious feature is the frame portion on the north elevation of the house – was it another porch that has been filled in?

The two-story porch is a feature seen on many mid to late 19th century houses in Eastern Kentucky, but those are usually what we call I-houses – two stories high, and one room deep, with chimneys at either end. The shape and form of this house and its brick construction (and juxtaposition of frame portions) combine to create a delightful enigma for future musing.


*All photographs are taken from the public right-of-way.

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  1. ginny daley says:

    Wonder if this was always a house? It has kind of an institutional feel to it. Like maybe a sanatorium with all those porches.

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      It could be – I don’t know very much about Wolfe County, so I am hoping some folks from that area will see this and let me know.

  2. Daniel Prater says:

    Thank you for “deliberately getting lost”!! This is such an interesting house, and one that merits further research. I have relatives in Wolfe County and will explore its history.

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      It is one of my chief delights when out in the field! If you find anything out about the background of this house, please let me know! And thank you for reading.

  3. Annie Jaech says:

    I’ve seen buildings like this in rural areas. They attach to girls schools, or Catholic churches. There was no shortage of them, and most failed. The teachers and matrons lived in the apartments and there was often a receiving parlor. The frame section would close the opening when the connecting passageway was removed. It was more for modesty than for protection against the elements.
    As large as it is, the dwelling cries, “Modesty!”

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      Thank you for reading and for that interesting information!

  4. Ankur says:

    It feels like a building used to preach some kind of special knowledge or training. definitely not a house.

  5. Jill Powell says:

    I had the awesome privilege of living in that house back in the late 60’s when I was a child.

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      That’s wonderful! Do you know anything about the background of the house?

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