I am fascinated by the basements in the antebellum homes I visit in Kentucky. It’s always a disappointment if a basement is closed to visitors, since it’s just as much a part of a historic site’s story as the elegant rooms above it. The story of the African-American slaves who worked or were held in those basements is every bit as important as that of their owners upstairs.
This first set of photos was taken at the 1812 Coleman-Desha Plantation, Cynthiana, Kentucky. This home, an adaptation of the Georgian house plan, is privately owned, but was opened to the public as a one-day fundraiser to save the nearby Handy House (see below).
In Georgetown, Ward Hall, the grandest Greek Revival home in Kentucky, dates to 1857. The home is still being restored and that makes a visit to the basement kitchen and storage/work areas even more poignant. The head tour guide didn’t realize our tour was still in the basement at closing time and turned the lights off while we were downstairs. Viewing the basement in the gloom of late afternoon gave me a sense of what it must have been like to work down there in the 1850s.
Then there’s the 1818 Handy House in Cynthiana, Kentucky. This federal-style house is boarded up and under threat of demolition by its current owners, the city and county governments, following years of deliberate neglect by those bodies. A grassroots effort is underway to save the house and that effort has now moved to a legal battle in court.
Enough for now. :- )
To be continued….