Kentucky: Farmington Historic Home Has 19th Century Vibe


It’s hard to fathom that Farmington Historic Home, replete with its late 19th century vibe of a time altogether unfamiliar today,  sits less than a mile away from the Highlands, arguably one of the most diverse and sometimes least elegant parts of Louisville.

Tucked away behind Bardstown Road at interstate 264 is what feels like an exquisite family heirloom ingrained in childhood memories or is at least reminiscent of the fading sepia toned photos of a place your people might have loved and tucked away in an old book.

After a bit of winding road and a turn off Bardstown, one arrives at a green space, not carved ironically out of an urban landscape to incorporate green back into the city, but an authentic green space the city grew clearly up around.

A quick walk yields the actual home of Farmington, an 1815 plantation house and what one envisions as the iconic log cabin that makes up part of the lyrics to My Old Kentucky Home, you know the one the young folks roll around the floor in and that gets a knockin’ at the door.

What an ideal setting for this not quite northern or southern, old school, yet hipster, Lexington meets Louisville, mash-up of a Derby brunch with white tablecloths in the garden under a white tent with the scene set by Bittner’s, the Original Maker’s Club, media sponsors with Garden and Gun Magazine, and the Dixie Design Collective? Guests oohed and aahed over ice sculptures while they drank mimosas and juleps and ate country ham and biscuits, beef tenderloin sliders, and bacon, sausage, and cheese blintzes among lots of other choices in an impressive buffet by Juleps Catering.

For this brunch at Farmington, The Historic Home Foundation’s 34th, Dr. Steven and Heather Howell hosted Todd and Lara Needham, the owners of Dullahan, who ran in the Derby. Phoebe Wood and her husband Mark hosted guests at a table as did Dick and Ardi Wilson. Longwood Antique Woods, the co sponsor, with owners from Lexington and Louisville, brought guests from Bluegrass Trust, Lexington’s historic homes preservation nonprofit, to make brunch a truly collaborative affair.

Longwood Antique Woods, in business for 19 years, built a cabin behind the Farmington home with wood that dates back to 1795 from Nicholas county. George Gatewood, the company’s president, said it uses floors from old Kentucky barns and warehouses and that can be seen all over the state. To wit, the floors are in Gratz Park Inn in Lexington, the Jim Beam Visitor’s Center in Bardstown and in Highland Cleaner’s newest “green” learning center in the Highlands.

The practice of mixing traditional and modern is a concept Speed Stodghill, an eight year member of the Historic Homes Foundation board, embraces, as Farmington seeks to host more weddings, highlight its renovated gardens and grow into an even more sought after event space. “Organizations change,” Stodghill said, “A new group of people put their own stamp on this thing,” he explained, to showcase Farmington in a way to which a newer generation can relate and participate.

Based on the guests’ smiles and the incessant photo opps in the cabin and especially in the gardens, it seems the strategy paid off. A happy crowd left the quiet green of Farmington in the morning for an afternoon at Churchill Downs that was guaranteed to be anything but.

Holly Houston
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3 Responses to Kentucky: Farmington Historic Home Has 19th Century Vibe

  1. Lark Philips February 8, 2013 at 9:02 am #

    Amazingly the regents of this wonderful piece of history now want to sell off 5 acres, nearly 1/3 of the remaining plantation grounds, so the for-profit university next door can build a 300 car parking lot. Yes….sadly amazing.

  2. John Gensheimer February 8, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    They need to leave well enough alone. It’s served them well thus far.

  3. curtismorrison February 8, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    The only detail I would have added is acknowledging that this was a slave plantation, where humans were held captive by Stodghill’s ancestors.
    But I’m really impressed that Holly points out this is an authentic green space not carved out of infill to make us feel green. It’s real.

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