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DOORWAY IN THE BROWN HOUSE, FRANKFORT. (DESIGNED BY THOMAS JEFFERSON.)
a certain taste for the antique in native history, a certain pride in family associations and traditions. On all the thinned and open landscape, nothing stands out with a more pathetic air of nakedness than one of these stone houses, long since abandoned and fallen into ruin. Under the Kentucky sky houses crumble and die without seeming to grow old, without an aged toning down of colors, without the tender memorials of mosses and lichens, and of the whole race of clinging things. So, not until they are quite overthrown does nature reclaim them, or draw once more to her bosom the walls and chimneys within whose faithful bulwarks, and by whose cavernous, glowing recesses, our greatgrandmothers and great-grandfathers danced and made love, married, suffered, and fell asleep. Neither to the house of logs, therefore, nor to that of stone must we look for the earliest embodiment of positive taste in domestic architecture. This found its first, and, considering
the exigencies of the period, its most noteworthy expression in the homestead of brick. No finer specimen survives than that built in 1796, on a plan furnished by Thomas Jefferson to John Brown, who had been his law student, remained always his honored friend, and became one of the founders of the commonwealth. It is a rich landmark, this old manor-place on the bank of the Kentucky River in Frankfort. The great hall with its pillared archway is wide enough for dancing the Virginia reel. The suites of high, spacious rooms; the carefully carved woodwork of the window-casings and the doors; the tall, quaint mantel-frames; the deep fireplaces with their shining fire-dogs and fenders of brass, brought laboriously enough on pack-mules from Philadelphia; the brass locks and keys; the portraits on the walls-all these bespeak the early implantation in Kentucky of a taste for sumptuous life and entertainment. The house is like a far-descending echo of colonial Old Virginia.
More famous in its day,- for it is already beneath the sod,-and built not of wood, nor of stone, nor of brick, but in part of all, was Chaumière," the home of David Meade during the closing years of the last, and the early years of the present, century. The owner, a Virginian who had been much in England, brought back with him notions of the baronial style of country-seat, and in Jessamine County, some ten miles from Lexington, built him a home that lingers in the mind like some picture of the imagination. It was a villa-like place, a cluster of rustic cottages, with a great park laid out in the style of Old World landscapegardening. There were artificial rivers spanned by arching bridges, and lakes with islands crowned by Grecian temples. There were terraces and retired alcoves, and winding ways cut through sweet, flowering thickets, withal an Eden of forest green and shadows numberless. A fortune was spent on the grounds; a retinue of servants was employed in nurturing their beauty. The dining-room, wainscoted with walnut and relieved by deep window-seats, was richer still with the family service of silver and glass; on the walls of other rooms hung family portraits by Thomas Hudson and Sir Joshua Reynolds. Two days in the week were appointed for formal receptions. There Jackson and Monroe and Taylor were entertained; there Aaron Burr was held for a time under arrest; there the refined and courtly stateliness of the old school showed itself becomingly in silver buckles and knee-breeches, lifted high the huge wassail-bowl, and rode abroad in a yellow chariot with outriders in blue cloth and silver buttons.
Near Lexington may be found a further notable example of early architecture in the Todd homestead, the oldest house in the region, built
by the brother of John Todd, who was governor of Kentucky Territory, including Illinois. It is a strong, spacious brick structure reared on a high foundation of stone, with a large, square hall and great square rooms in suites, connected by double doors. To the last century also belongs the low, irregular pile that became the Wickliffe, and later the Preston, house in Lexington-a striking example of the taste then prevalent for plain, or even commonplace, exteriors, if combined with interiors that touched the imagination with the suggestion of something stately and noble and courtly.
Take these, chosen here and there, as a few types of homes erected in the last century. The point is not that such places existed, but that
sudden, fierce flaring up of sympathy with the French Revolution; hence the deep reëchoing through the Kentucky settlement of the warcry of Jacobin emissaries. But scarcely had the wave of primitive conquest flowed over the land, and wealth followed in its peaceful wake, before life fell apart into the extremes of social caste. The memories of former position, the influences of old domestic habitudes, were powerful still. Rudely strained, not snapped asunder, were the connective tissues of civilization; so that, before a generation passed, Kentucky society gave full proof of the continuity of its development from phases of traditional State-existence. The region of the James River, so rich in antique homesteads, began to renew itself
ruffled shirts, the knee-breeches, the glittering buckles, the high-heeled slippers, and the frosty brocades. Over the Alleghanies, in slow-moving wagons, came the massive mahogany furniture, the sunny brass work, the tall silver candlesticks, the nervous-looking, thin-legged little pianos. In came old manners and old speech and old prides: the very Past gathered together its household gods and made an exodus into the Future.
English mansion is to be found in "Locust Grove," a massive and enduring structure,— not in the blue-grass region, it is true, but several miles from Louisville,-built in 1800 for Colonel Croghan, brother-in-law of General George Rogers Clark; and still another remains in "Spring Hill," in Woodford County, the home of Nathaniel Hart, who had been a boy in the fort at Boonesborough. Until recently a further representative, though remodeled in later times, survived in the Thompson place at "Shawnee Springs," in Mercer County.
Consider briefly the import of such country homes as these "Traveler's Rest," "Chaumière," "Spring Hill," and "Shawnee Springs," and the writer deprecates all odium for restricting his mention to them, or for choosing them as types rather than others.1 Built remotely here and there, away from the villages or before villages were formed, in a country not yet traversed by limestone highways or even by lanes, they, and such as they, were the beacon-lights, many-windowed and kind, of Kentucky entertainment. "Traveler's Rest" was on the great line of immigration from Abingdon through Cumberland Gap. Its rooftree was a boon of universal shelter, its very name a perpetual invitation to all the weary. Long after the country became thickly peopled, it, and such places as it, remained the rallyingpoints of social festivity in their several counties, or drew their guests from remoter regions. They brought in the era of hospitalities, which by and by spread through the towns and over the land. If one is ever to study this trait as it flowered to perfection in Kentucky life, then one must hope to see it, not wholly, but at its best, in the society of some fifty years ago. Then trained horses were kept in the stables, trained servants were kept in the halls. The dinners were perennial, as boundless as the courtesies; the animosities were for the time dissolved by all the amenities; guests came uninvited, unannounced; tables were regularly set for surprises. "Put a plate," said an old Kentuckian of the time with a large family connection-" always put a plate for the last one of them down to the youngest grandchild." It is narrated as a fact in a Kentucky home,and certainly it never happened in any other,
Without due regard to these essential facts the social system of the State must ever remain poorly understood. Hitherto they have been but little considered. To the popular imagination the most familiar type of early Kentuckian is that of the fighter, the hunter, the rude, heroic pioneer and his no less heroic wife; people who left all things behind them and set their faces westward, prepared to be new creatures if such they could become. But on the dim historic background are the stiff figures of another type, people who were equally bent on being old-fashioned creatures if such they could remain. Thus, during the final years of the last century and the first quarter of the present one, Kentucky life was all richly overlaid with ancestral models. Closely studied, the elements of population by the close of this period were separable into a landed gentry, a robust yeomanry, a white tenantry, and a black peasantry. It was only by degrees,-by the dying out of the fine old types of men and women, by longer absence from the old environment and closer contact with the new,-that society lost its inherited and acquired its native characteristics, or became less Virginian and more Kentuckian. Gradually, also, the white tenantry waned and the black peasantry waxed. The aristocratic spirit, in becoming more Kentuckian, unbent somewhat its pride, and the democratic, in becoming more Kentuckian, took on a pride of its own; so that when social life culminated with the first half-century, there had been produced all over the blue-grass region, by the intermingling of the two, that widely diffused and peculiar type which may be described as an aristocratic democracy, or a democratic aristocracy, according to one's choosing of a phrase. The beginnings of Kentucky life represented not simply a slow development from the rudest pioneer conditions, but also a direct and immediate implantation of the best of longestablished social forms. And in no wise did the latter embody itself more persuasively and lastingly than in the building of costly homes.
III. HOMES OF THE MIDDLE PERIOD.
WITH the opening of the present century, this taste went on developing. A specimen of early architecture in the style of the old
that a visitor once arrived, as he said, for a sojourn of several days, but remained twenty years; at the end of which time it pleased Providence to terminate his visit. What a Kentuckian would have thought of being asked to come on the thirteenth of the month and to leave on the twentieth, it is difficult to imagine. The wedding-presents of brides were not only jewels and silver and gold, but a round of balls.
1 Ashland, the Clay homestead, has already been written of by another in this magazine.
The people were laughed at for their too impetuous civilities. In whatever quarter of the globe they should happen to meet for the hour a pleasing stranger, they would say in parting, "And when you come to Kentucky, be certain to come to my house."
Yet it is needful to discriminate, in speaking of Kentucky hospitality. Universally gracious toward the stranger and quick to receive him for his individual worth, within the State hospitality ran in circles, and the people turned a
tocrat, if revenge was desired, could always be taken at the polls. Study the history of great political contests in the State, and see whether they are not lessons in the victory and defeat of social types. Herein lies a difficulty: you touch any point of Kentucky life, and instantly about it cluster antagonisms and contradictions. The false is true; the true is false. Society was aristocratic; it was democratic: it was neither; it was both. There was intense family pride, and no family pride. The ancestral sentiment was weak,and it wasstrong.
To-day you will discover the increasing vogue of an heraldica Kentuckiensis, and today an absolute disregard of a distinguished past. One tells but partial truths.
Of domestic architecture in a brief and general way something has been said. The prevailing influ
THE CROGHAN PLACE, "LOCUST GROVE."
piercing eye on one another's social positions. If in no other material aspect did they embody the history of descent so sturdily as in the building of homes, in no mental trait of home life did they reflect this more clearly than in the sense of family pride. Hardly a little town but had its classes that never mingled; scarce a rural neighborhood but insisted on the sanctity of its salt-cellar and the gloss of its mahogany. The spirit of caste was somewhat Persian in its gravity. Now the Alleghanies were its background, and the heroic beginnings of Kentucky life supplied its warrant; now it overleaped the Alleghanies, and allied itself to the memories of deeds and names in older States. But, mark you, if some professed to look down, none professed to look up. Deference to an upper class, if deference existed, was secret and resentful, not open and servile; and revenge on the aris
THE CLARK HOUSE, MULBERRY HILL." ence was Virginian, but in Lexington and elsewhere may be observed evidences of French ideas in the glass-work and designs of doors and windows, in rooms grouped around a central hall with arching niches and alcoves; for models made their way from New Orleans as well as from the East. Out in the country, however, at such places as those already mentioned, a purely English taste was shown for woodland parks with deer and, what was more peculiarly Kentuckian, elk and buffalo. This taste, once so conspicuous, has never become extinct, and certainly the landscape is receptive enough to all such stately purposes. At "Spring Hill" and elsewhere, to-day, one may stroll through woods that have kept a touch of their native wildness, and lack only the restoration of timid, bounding forms to become primeval. There was the English love of lawns,
too, with a low matted green turf and widespreading shade-trees above,-elm and maple, locust and poplar,-the English fondness for a mansion half hidden with evergreens and creepers and shrubbery, to be approached by a leafy avenue, a secluded gateway, and a graveled drive; for highways hardly admit to the heart of rural life in Kentucky, and wayside homes, to be dusted and gazed at by every passer-by, would little accord with the spirit of the people. This feeling of family seclusion and completeness also portrayed itself very tenderly in the custom of family graveyards, which were in time to be replaced by the democratic cemetery; and no one has ever lingered around those quiet spots of aged and drooping cedars, fast-fading violets, and perennial myrtle, with out being made to feel that they grew out of the better heart and fostered the finer senses.
On the whole, however, the best proof of culture among the first generations of Kentuckians is to be seen in the private collections of portraits, among which one wanders now with a sort of stricken feeling that the higher life of Kentucky in this regard never went beyond its early promise. Look into the meager history of native art, and you will discover that nearly all the best work belongs to this early time. It was possible even then that a Kentuckian could give up law and turn to painting. Almost in the wilderness Jouett created rich, luminous, startling canvases. Artists came from
older States to sojourn and to work; artists were invited or summoned from abroad. Painting was taught in Lexington in 1800. Well for Jouett, perhaps, that he lived when he did; better for Hart, perhaps, that he was not born later: they might have run for Congress. One is prone to recur time and again to this period, when the ideals of Kentucky life were still wavering or unformed, and when there was the greatest receptivity to foreign impress. Thinking of social life as it was developed, say in and around Lexington,-of artists coming and going, of the statesmen, the lecturers, the lawyers, of the dignity and the energy of character, of the intellectual dinners,-one is inclined to liken the local civilization to a truncated cone, to a thing that should have towered to a symmetric apex, but somehow has never risen very high above a sturdy base.
So we turn to speak broadly of home life after it became more typically Kentuckian, and after architecture began to reflect with greater uniformity the character of the people. And here one can find material comfort, if not esthetic delight; for it is the whole picture of human life in the blue-grass region that pleases. Ride east and west, or north and south, along highway or byway, and the picture is the same. One almost asks for relief from the monotony of a merely well-to-do existence, almost sighs for the extremes of squalor and splendor, that nowhere may be seen, and that would seem so