Sunday, June 27, 2021

Centre Family Home

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill was the third largest Shaker community within the United States, active between 1805 and 1910. The following photographs are by Clay Lancaster and they were taken for one of his projects in 1979.

Copyright Clay Lancaster

The Centre Family Dwelling House was built by the Shakers between 1824 and 1834 and was the second-largest stone building in Kentucky at the time — right behind the capitol building in Frankfort.

Copyright Clay Lancaster

The Centre Family Dwelling is a 21,000-square-foot, three-story stone building that once housed from 80 to 100 members of the Centre “family”.  There were 14 bedrooms and at least six kitchens where food was prepared, preserved, cooked, baked and stored. A large dining room was used by the Shakers, but because of their population, they had to eat in shifts. There was also a cellar with food storage rooms, an infirmary and a large meeting room.  

Copyright Clay Lancaster

This building was named for its location - these Shakers making up the Centre “family.” On the second floor is a “grand and impressive” meeting room that has the unique feature of a barrel-vaulted ceiling.
Copyright Clay Lancaster

In 2018, a two-year major renovation project was completed in the Centre Family Dwelling and the building was brought into the 21 century. Construction workers installed a climate control system, museum-quality lighting, repaired plaster and masonry, painted, restored the 120 windows and replaced the roof.

Cricketeer retirement party


Photo from Marita Frank

This is a photo from December 1964 at a Cricketeer retirement party for Bertha Warner, shared by her granddaughter, Marita Frank. Mrs. Warner is seated on the left end of the second row. Does anyone recognize any more of these faces?

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Famous Harrodsburg Writing Family

From naturalist poet Wendell Berry to Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson to Appalachian novelist Silas House, Kentucky has produced some of the most incredible writers the world has ever known, and Mercer County is no exception. One Harrodsburg family produced three prolific writers, as well as a connection to a fourth.

Maria T. Daviess, Wikipedia

Maria T. Daviess (October 31, 1814 – December 19, 1896) was a 19th-century American author of Kentucky. Her parents were John B. Thompson, Sr. and Nancy Porter Robards. She was a well-known writer of her day, a regular correspondent of The Country Gentleman and Coleman's Rural World. Her last contribution for The Country Gentleman was written on her eighty-second birthday. (The Mother)

Her publications include the poems: 

“The Nun” 

“A Harvest Hymn”

“Roger Sherman, A Tale of '76”

“Woman's Love”

“Cultivation and Uses of the Chinese Sugar-Cane”

Also, her column in The Harrodsburg Democrat, “History of Mercer and Boyle Counties” (1886) became the book, History of Mercer and Boyle Counties, in 1924.

Hannah Daviess Pittman, Wikipedia

Hannah Daviess Pittman was born in 1840, in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, the eldest daughter of Maj. William Daviess and author Maria Thompson Daviess. She graduated from the Presbyterian College of Harrodsburg in 1857 and then married Williamson Haskins Pittman (1823-1875), a prominent wholesale dry goods merchant of St. Louis. She was for sixteen years a member of the staff of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and during that time was also associated with John R. Reavis as assistant editor of the St. Louis Spectator, a weekly paper. (The Daughter)

Her books include:

The Belle of the Bluegrass Country: Studies in Black and White (1906)

The Heart of Kentucky (1908)

Go Forth and Find (1910)

Get Married, Young Men and The Heart of a Doll (1908)

Americans of Gentle Birth and their Ancestors (1912)

In Dreamland : A Story of Living and Giving (ca. 1915)

Maria Thompson Daviess, Wikipedia

Maria Thompson Daviess (November 28, 1872 – September 3, 1924), one of the founders of the Nashville Equal Suffrage League, was an American artist and feminist author. Daviess was born in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, on November 28, 1872. She was named after her grandmother, Maria T. Daviess.  Her parents were John Burton Thompson Daviess (a relative of the Harrodsburg-born writer Zoe Anderson Norris) and Leonora Hamilton Daviess. She never married and had no children. (The Granddaughter)

Her books include:

Miss Selina Lue and the Soap-box Babies (1909)

The Road To Providence (1910)

Rose of Old Harpeth (1911)

The Treasure Babies (1911)

The Melting of Molly (1912)

The Elected Mother, A Story of Woman's Equal Rights (1912)

Andrew the Glad (1913)

The Tinder Box (1913)

Sue Jane (1913)

Phyllis (1914; a "Harpeth Valley" story)

Over Paradise Ridge (1915)

The Daredevil (1916) – filmed in 1918

The Heart's Kingdom (1917)

Out of a Clear Sky (1917) – filmed in 1918 as Out of a Clear Sky with Marguerite Clark

The Golden Bird (1918) – filmed in 1918 as Little Miss Hoover with Marguerite Clark

Bluegrass and Broadway (1919)

The Matrix (1920)

Seven Times Seven (1924) (autobiography)

Zoe Anderson Norris, Wikipedia

Maria T. Daviess’ son, John B. Thompson, married Martha Anderson, who was a sister of the Harrodsburg-born writer Zoe Anderson Norris (February 29, 1860 – February 13, 1914). Norris was a Kentucky-born journalist, novelist, short story writer, and publisher, known for her bimonthly magazine, The East Side (1909–1914), which focused on impoverished immigrants in New York. She also had numerous journalistic endeavors, as well as poetry and fiction work. (The Mother's son's sister-in-law)






Monday, June 21, 2021

Road to Brooklyn Bridge


Photo from the Armstrong Archives

This is a photograph of the road leading down to Brooklyn Bridge, date unknown.

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

Shaker Heights Service Station

The following is an article from Gardens to Gables by Janie-Rice Brother about the old service station located on highway 68 near Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.

 June 16, 2021 by Janie-Rice Brother

One of the thrills of my profession and avocation is when someone decides to save a historic building. Last week, I received an email from the new owners of the wonderful historic filling station on US 68 in Mercer County, Kentucky – and they want to restore it!

The former view of the gas station as you approach from the Kentucky River.

I may have squealed a bit and done a tiny dance. And then – I was browsing through Instagram and I saw THIS!

The vegetation has been cleared out, and the historic building can breathe for the first time in decades! Photograph by @danielmorris777 on Instagram.

Do forgive my multiple exclamation points – sometimes being a lover of historic buildings is a sad and depressing path. Writing about demolitions, worrying about the farmland I see from the windows of my house, and tallying up the costs of restoring our enormous wood windows – when happy news arrives, celebration is definitely in order.

I first wrote about this little filling station and its irresistible geode-festooned fa├žade in June 2020, as the realities of shut downs and Pandemic life were only beginning to take root. So I could not conduct any research beyond my own library and my own photographs. The new owners, along with the joyous news of their intentions, also shared an amazing historic photograph.

Circa 1920s image of the filling station.

I hope to share more of this story as it progresses, and I hope you will join with me in wishing the new owners the very best of luck and a heartfelt thank you for their decision to save this historic treasure.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Harrodsburg's 150th Anniversary - 1924

Historic postcard from 1924 pageant

Can we do it again?

The Harrodsburg community came together in 1924 to sponsor an elaborate celebration for the 150th anniversary of the town. Because the replica of Old Fort Harrod was still only a dream at this time, the celebration was planned to be held at Graham Springs Park, next door to the new Graham Springs Hotel.

Advocate-Messenger, June 14, 1924

The play, "Pageant of Kentucky's Historical Past", was a huge production with dozens of actors portraying historical characters. Written by Mrs. W. T. Lafferty and Maude Ward Lafferty, reprinted copies of the play are still available online.

Photo from

A huge stage was built - 150 x 300 feet - and there was a blockhouse constructed on each end - the backdrop was a wooden stockade. There were 200 boxes made to seat 6 people each and 4,000 reserved seats. In totality, there was seating for 10,000+ people. Because Harrodsburg owned its own electrical grid, the setting was lit with huge spotlights on the stage.

Historic postcard from 1924
This was truly a community effort! Can Harrodsburg come together again for another huge celebration in 2024?

Monday, June 14, 2021

Jennie Magoffin Hardin


Photo from the collection of Jerry L. Sampson

This family photo is of the Hardin family and comprises of Judge Charles A Hardin, his son Eben Hardin and his son Charles Hardin. The woman in the back is the only known photo of Jennie Magoffin Hardin. 

Mrs. Hardin was a descendant of the pioneer McAfees, her families on both sides being among the old and honored citizens of the state. By blood or marriage she was connected with five Governors of Kentucky - her uncle, Gov. Beriah Magoffin, Clay Hill on Beaumont Ave., Gov. Shelby, Gov. Adair, Gov. Owsley, and Gov. Beckham. She was the daughter of Col. Ebenezer Magoffin. She was a long-time and very active member of the Harrodsburg Christian Church. She was 87 when she passed and is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery. 

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Tobacco Warehouse fire


Photo from the collection of Jerry L. Sampson

Two photographs from 1953 of a tobacco warehouse fire on Marimon Avenue and East Office Street.

Photo from the collection of Jerry L. Sampson

Harrodsburg Opera House

  This is a photo we had never seen and Belinda S Kurtz shared this from another group. “Wasn’t Bob Martin that used to run the radio statio...