A Student of History

February 3, 2007

Kentucky’s Farmington (c. 1816)

Filed under: Historic Places,Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 6:01 pm

I found myself this past week in the Louisville area, with a bit of time to kill, so I went to visit Farmington nearby.  On an 18 acre site (though sadly, right next to a loud and busy exit ramp of I-264), Farmington is a 14-room 1816 Federal-style home that “was the center of the 19th-century hemp plantation of John and Lucy Speed.”  It was possibly designed from a plan by Thomas Jefferson, but more likely was influenced by his work.  It was a hemp plantation, and has been recently restored “with original paint colors, historic wallpaper and carpets, and furnished with Kentucky furniture and other antiques from the period.”  Abraham Lincoln, a close friend of John Speed‘s son Joshua, spent about three weeks at Farmington in 1841.  They have plans in the works to commemorate Lincoln’s visit in 2008 with a number of activities.  They have a lot of details on the house’s history here. 

Since it is winter, visitation was not exactly high the day I stopped by so I got a tour with only 2 other folks.  The guide was very knowledgeable, and they do on fact have it VERY nicely done.  Given the number of historic homes I have seen, and my three years as a guide in one while at W&L, I consider myself a “home tour snob,” in that I instantly dislike hokey stuff inside them, or when I find things misinterpreted, etc.  This place is an 8 on a scale of 1-10, and they should be proud of the job they have done there.  Plus, they are not afraid to mention the “S” word: slavery.


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