The Fiscal Court of Harrison County meets tonight in Cynthiana to vote on whether to demolish the Historic Handy House, also known as Ridgeway. You can read more about Handy House in my earlier post.
It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the majority of the council members will vote to demolish the house. They insist that it sits on the exact spot in Flat Run Veterans Park where a community pool must be located.
“I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. Kentucky gone, we cannot hold Missouri, nor Maryland. These all against us, and the job on our hands is too large for us. We would as well consent to separation at once, including the surrender of this capitol.” 1861 letter from President Lincoln to Cynthiana native Orville Browning.
You can read more about its history here: http://harrisoncountyky.us/historical-society/the-handy-house-1-introduction.htm.
Time and time again, the Fiscal Court has indicated that demolition has been the plan from the start. Demolition by neglect has quickly taken its toll on the house. From reading the news coverage of the controversy, there seems to be only one council member fighting to save Handy House. The Friends of Ridgeway Historic Community Center have ably addressed every obstacle put in the way of preserving the house, but the Fiscal Court seems intent on having the last word. It has even refused to listen to a plan to move the house in order to save it. Petty politics seem to be at play.
I have seen this happen too many times in the short time I have lived in Kentucky. When our built history is gone, it’s gone forever. We’ll be left with subdivisions full of expensive cookie-cutter homes that won’t last fifty years, all just a short drive from an ugly fast-food strip. “Welcome to Cynthiana: Interchangeable With Any Other Generic American Town.”
Too many people in Kentucky don’t get it. They continue to demolish the very thing that makes Kentucky different from other states. When someone finally realizes they’ve killed the golden goose of heritage tourism, it will be too late.