FRANKFORT, Ky. – The National Park Service (NPS) recently approved 11 Kentucky sites for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, the nation’s official list of historic and archaeological resources deemed worthy of preservation.
These are First Christian Church, Clinton; Sroufe House, Dover; Bell House, near Edmonton; the Clel Purdom House, Lebanon vicinity; Charles Young Park and Community Center and Peoples Federal Savings and Loan Association, Lexington; Klotz Confectionary Co. and Louisville Cotton Mills Administration Building, Louisville; Morehead C & O Railway Freight Depot, Morehead; California Apartments, Paducah; and the Felix Grundy Stidger House, Taylorsville. A description of each follows.
The Sroufe House in Dover and the Felix Grundy Stidger House in Taylorsville are especially notable.
The Sroufe House nomination was written by Catherine Bache, a high-school student from Kentucky Country Day in Louisville, as a project to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, the organization’s highest honor. Her sister, Julia, earned the same award three years ago when she successfully nominated Buck Creek Rosenwald School in Finchville to the register.
The Sroufe House is the first residence listed from Kentucky associated with the Underground Railroad. According to the author, “The resource is being interpreted as a well-documented instance of a planned escape of three of the farm’s enslaved workers.” Camp Nelson is Jessamine County is the only other Kentucky site listed due to its Underground Railroad association.
The listing of the Felix Grundy Stidger House in Taylorsville is notable because it was submitted under a rarely used designation, property associated with the lives of persons significant in our country’s past, for its association with a man who worked as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War.
The Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office (KHC) administers the National Register program in Kentucky and provides administrative support to the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board, which is charged with evaluating National Register nominations prior to their submission to NPS. The review board is made up of 11 members appointed by the governor and meets twice a year.
Owners of National Register properties may qualify for state and/or federal tax credits for rehabilitation of these properties to standards set forth by the Secretary of the Interior, as certified by the Kentucky Heritage Council, or by making a charitable contribution of a preservation easement. National Register status does not affect property ownership rights, but does provide a measure of protection against adverse impacts from federally funded projects.
Kentucky has the fourth-highest number of listings among states, at more than 3,300. Listing can be applied to buildings, objects, structures, districts and archaeological sites, and proposed sites must be significant in architecture, engineering, American history or culture.
Detailed nominations with high-resolution photos are available at www.heritage.ky.gov/natreg/. The next review board meeting will take place in May, National Historic Preservation Month.
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An agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Kentucky Heritage Council / State Historic Preservation Office is responsible for the identification, protection and preservation of prehistoric resources and historic buildings, sites and cultural resources throughout the Commonwealth, in partnership with other state and federal agencies, local communities and interested citizens. This mission is integral to making communities more livable and has a far-ranging impact on issues as diverse as economic development, heritage tourism, jobs creation, affordable housing, community revitalization, environmental conservation and quality of life. www.heritage.ky.gov
Recent National Register listings
Charles Young Park and Community Center, 540 E. Third St., Lexington; authored by Randy Shipp, historic preservation specialist with Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. Acquired in 1930, Charles Young Park was the second parcel of land purchased by the city to serve the recreational needs of the African American community. Its namesake, Col. Charles Young, was born into slavery in Mays Lick in 1864 and went on to become the third African American graduate of West Point, the first African American U.S. national park superintendent and the first African American to achieve the rank of colonel. According to the author, “In Kentucky towns, African Americans erected a community that stood alongside the community of whites, in which most of the same activities occurred…” The area listed is 2.6 acres, with two contributing buildings erected in the mid-1930s and one contributing site. These include the community center, a one-story, brick veneer, side-gable building on a raised, cut-stone foundation with a rear addition featuring a gymnasium and stage; and a one-story brick restroom. The remaining site consists of open green space, a paved, multi-use ball court and playground area. It was nominated under Criterion A, property associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history, and Criterion C, embodying the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction. Its significance was evaluated within the historic context “African American Neighborhoods in Lexington, 1865-1965.”
Peoples Federal Savings and Loan Association, 343 South Broadway, Lexington; authored by Sarah Tate, historic preservation consultant. Constructed in 1961-62, this iconic bank building was designed by Lexington architect Charles Bayless of the Firm Bayless Clotfelter & Associates. At the time of its construction, according to the author, the building “stood on the periphery of the historic downtown area of Lexington, a city which emerged in the early-19th century as a regional center of culture, agriculture, commerce and education.” The bank features a concrete foundation, concrete block walls with aqua-colored glazed brick veneer, and a precast “folded-plate” concrete roof. The building was nominated under Criterion C for its high artistic merit, and evaluated within the historic context “Mid-Century Modern Movement in Lexington, 1955-1965.” This building “provides a rare example… of a highly intact mid-century modern building with formal characteristics associated with several offshoots of the International Style,” the author writes. “In this nomination, the style is being defined as Neo Expressionism, and Streamline/Populuxe Modern.”
First Christian Church, 201 N. Washington St., Clinton; authored by Sarah Bowman, owner, and Marty Perry, KHC National Register Coordinator. The church was nominated under Criterion C, embodying the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction, in this case Romanesque Revival. The church is constructed of brick and dates to 1899. According to the authors, “This building is the only instance of Romanesque style recorded in the county… Its masonry material, chunky proportions, and heaviness of detail impart a solidity to the building… [that] offers the local population a design that seemed sophisticated relative to others on the local landscape. For a church group intent on announcing the solidity, wealth and social prestige of their congregation, the Romanesque Revival design provided those messages.” The building’s significance was evaluated within the historic context “Romanesque Revival Buildings of the Jackson Purchase Region, 1875-1925.”
Klotz Confectionary Co., 731 Brent St., Louisville; authored by Joanne Weeter, historic preservation consultant. Klotz Confectionary was built in 1937 as a candy manufacturing plant, which continued to function until the company’s closing in 1967. The two-story brick building with concrete block addition was nominated under Criterion A. According to the author, the building “conveys important information about how one midsize American city provided wholesale candies to a regional market in the early 20th century. This building helps tell the story of how the sales of candies expanded from a single store production and retail operation into an industrial manufacturing process.” Its significance was explored within the historic context “The Wholesale Candy and Confection Business in Louisville, 1890-1965.”
Louisville Cotton Mills Administration Building, 1318 McHenry St., Louisville; authored by Joseph C. Pierson of Pinion Advisors. The industrial complex was listed in the National Register in 1982, and this boundary increase includes the addition of a single structure, the Administration Building, which – having been constructed in 1936 – was not 50 years old at the time of the original listing and thus did not qualify at that time. The Administration Building is a single story, Art Deco-style commercial building constructed of brick with stone detailing along the roof line, beneath the windows and along the foundation. It was nominated under Criterion A, significant within the historic context “Textile Industry in Louisville, 1880-1970.” Louisville Cotton Mills was the first cotton mill in Louisville and remained so until it closed in 1967. According to the author, “It survived the shift in textiles from wool to cotton, the contraction and migration of the industry from the North to the South, the Great Depression, and the major changes in American consumer habits after World War II.”
California Apartments, 2900 Clay St., Paducah; authored by Melinda Winchester with Winchester Preservation. California Apartments is a private neighborhood made up of Gunnison Home duplexes on 5.58 acres. Constructed in 1952, the complex comprises 36 one-story duplex buildings and two vacant lots. It was designed by developers Omar Goetz, Prewitt Lackey and Heath Wells, who created New Home Constructors Inc. as approved builders through the Atomic Energy Commission. The project was financed by the Federal Housing Authority specifically for the workers of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The complex was nominated under Criterion A, determined significant within the historic context “Residential Housing Related to the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, 1950 to 1955.” According to the author, all of the buildings display a uniformity of basic form and materials consistent with Gunnison Home Design Models. “All the units retain their identifying Gunnison features of the sheet metal chimney, metal shutters and metal flower boxes. The site plan has not been altered from its original configuration, and the sidewalks, interior courtyards and mature trees remain intact.”
Clel Purdom House, Lebanon vicinity; authored by Suzanne Coyle, Ph.D., owner. Constructed in the Italianate style in approximately 1884, this two-story, frame house includes Italianate features such as overhanging eaves with decorative brackets and tall, narrow windows. The house is clad with weatherboards and sits on a stone foundation. The house was nominated under Criterion C and evaluated as significant within the historic context “Italianate Style in Marion County.” According to the author, “The development of Italianate architecture in the early 19th century flourished in urban areas where economic growth… was often reflected in the architectural design of the city. Small towns such as Lebanon, and rural areas of Marion County, might imitate those urban signs of economic prosperity, though at a later time than they first appeared in those cities. Use of the Italianate architecture then became a sign of economic status and cultural savvy in Marion County.”
Sroufe House, 2471 Mary Ingles Highway, Dover; authored by Catherine Bache of Louisville. This listing includes a secondary brick building as well as the painted brick house, constructed in 1800, expanded during the antebellum period and again in 1975. According to the author, “The resource is being interpreted as a well-documented instance of a planned escape of three of the farm’s enslaved workers.” The property was listed under Criterion A, and the period of significance is a single year, 1864, during which a neighbor across the Ohio River, John P. Parker, assisted Celia Brooks, her husband and baby to escape from bondage under the owners of the house, Sebastian and Mary Ann Sroufe. The author cites a story from Parker’s autobiography that has also been well documented by others as verifying her argument for listing the site as significant within the historic context “Underground Railroad in the Borderlands of Kentucky and Ohio.” While Camp Nelson in Jessamine County is considered by NPS to be the first National Register listing in Kentucky associated with historic events related to the Underground Railroad, the Sroufe House is the first Kentucky residence to be listed for this association. According to the author, “Unlike the typical narrative of an Underground Railroad claim, part of the significance of the Sroufe House episode is that the story does not depict the Sroufe family as abolitionists or as sympathetic to the cause of liberating enslaved people. In this instance, the Sroufe House gained its association with the Underground Railroad in opposition to the owners’ interests.”
Bell House, 7310 Columbia Road, Edmonton vicinity; authored by Janie-Rice Brother, senior architectural historian with the Kentucky Archaeological Survey. The Bell House was constructed between 1907 and 1909 for Curtis A. Bell and his wife, Cora, and designed by Albert Killian of Owensboro. A native of Adair County, Bell was a merchant and farmer and his wife was the daughter of a locally prominent merchant, farmer and lumber dealer, J.H. Kinnaird. According to the author, Kinnaird financed the building of the structure, a 2½-story frame house clad in clapboards with vertical wood siding and a distinctive two-story tower – a merging of Queen Anne and classical styles. The house was listed under Criterion C, evaluated within the historic context “Architecture in Metcalfe County, 1880-1910.” According to the author, “the house itself embodies the vernacular traditions persistent in Kentucky, where popular national styles remained relevant for years after they passed out of favor in more urban areas. But at the same time, the attention to detail, and the high style of finishes in the house set it apart from all other houses built in the same time period in the local architectural arena. The Bell House is significant locally as a rural architect-designed dwelling in the Free Classic style.”
Morehead C & O Railway Freight Depot, 130 E. First St., Morehead; authored by Gary D. Lewis, president of the Rowan County Historical Society. Constructed in 1881 by the Elizabethtown, Lexington and Big Sandy Railway in Morehead, this depot was later acquired by the Chesapeake & Ohio (C & O) Railroad. According to the author, this stick, or Prairie-style frame building served as a passenger depot as well as a freight depot until about 1910 when a brick passenger depot was built nearby. Today the depot’s original wooden structure is intact and the building remains in its original location. According to the author, the depot “played an extremely significant role in local transportation, commerce, communications and social affairs of Morehead and Rowan County. This nomination acknowledges and relies on the tremendous transportation, economic and social changes brought about by the C & O Railroad in our area.” It was nominated under Criterion C as a type of construction and for a design that influenced future C & O Railroad depots, and evaluated within the historic context “Development of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in East Kentucky, 1870-1940.”
Felix Grundy Stidger House, 102 Garrard St., Taylorsville; authored by Arnie Mueller, vice president of the Felix Grundy Stidger Historic Preservation Foundation. The listing of this home in the National Register stands out in that the nomination was submitted under Criterion B, property associated with the lives of persons significant in our country's past, a rarely used designation. Felix Grundy Stidger (1836-1908) was a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War, and the defined period of significance for the home’s listing, 1864-65, spans the two years he was actively engaged as a spy. Stidger traveled extensively during this time, and the covert nature of his work makes it hard to associate any other particular places with this role. The saddlebag-plan log house features a stone foundation, gable roof and central chimney. Today the building is in poor condition, yet because of its association with an important person, this did not preclude listing. The house was evaluated within the larger historic context “Spying in the U.S. Civil War, 1861-1865.” According to the author, approximately 390 known spies worked for both the North and the South throughout the war, including 43 women. Approximately 50 men and women on both sides were eventually executed, and some spies went on to successful careers, such as James A. Garfield, the 20th U.S. President. Following the war, Stidger relocated to Chicago, where he lived until his death.