Danville's Willis Green house to be auctioned

gkocher1@herald-leader.comJune 6, 2013 

  • If you go

    Absolute auction of Willis Green house in Danville

    Where: 120 W. Erskine Dr. Take left off Hustonville Road (next to B&E Furniture) onto West Erskine. The auction site is at the end of the street.

    When: 10:30 a.m, Saturday

    Learn more: Call Wilson Realty & Auction, (859) 236-0021 or 1-800-609-5671

DANVILLE — While residents here celebrate musical history Saturday with the annual Great American Brass Band Festival, a significant piece of Kentucky history goes up for sale the same day.

The Willis Green house, also known as the Waveland Estate, will be sold at absolute auction.

The two-story brick house is in disrepair, but its interior still exhibits exceptional moldings, ornate mantels and an impressive staircase. It is owned by Teresa Horton of Lexington.

Tony Wilson of Wilson Realty & Auction Co. said "a lot of interest" has been expressed in the property.

"I say 'interest' — I don't know if it's real interest or curiosity," Wilson said.

Preservationists have notified one another about the auction. They hope that individuals or groups might seek to purchase the house independently or collectively to ensure that it isn't demolished.

"That would be like putting a beautiful Thoroughbred horse down when it wasn't necessary to put one down," said Barbara Hulette, president of the Boyle Landmark Trust, a group that advocates historic preservation. "You try your best to save these places if they're viable and this one has the potential."

The Trust doesn't have the money to purchase the property, "So therefore, we're trying to work with some other preservation organizations that might have the money to be able to buy it," Hulette said.

Willis Green moved from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to Kentucky around 1782. He was a representative in the Virginia legislature, was a framer of Kentucky's Constitution, and was an original trustee of Transylvania Seminary in Lexington, which later became Transylvania University.

Green had the house built in 1800, and used artisans from Philadelphia to do the interior work that is still on display.

The house has been vacant since 1976 and shows it. Raccoons and vandals have had a field day inside. Nearly every window is broken, and the interior walls have been spray-painted with obscenities. Vines grow up the exterior walls.

Nevertheless, during a tour on Wednesday afternoon, potential buyers who did not wish to be identified marveled at the dentil crown moldings, the huge floor joists, and the carvings on the side of the exposed stairs leading to the attic. All are indicative of extraordinary craftsmanship, they said.

And despite the vulgarities on the walls and peeling wallpaper, the house appears to be structurally sound, they said. The house has the potential for restoration, Hulette said.

"It's not falling down," she said. "It's as sturdy as it can be."

Although it's called the Waveland Estate, the Danville house has no connection to Waveland State Historic Site, the house off Nicholasville Road in Fayette County.

The Danville house and its two acres are surrounded by residential subdivisions now, but the original estate once covered several hundred acres.

In addition to the house and its two acres of land, a vintage three-wheel Farmall 300 Series tractor and bush hog will be sold separately. They were used to mow the grass surrounding the house.


If you go

Absolute auction of Willis Green house in Danville

Where: 120 W. Erskine Dr. Take left off Hustonville Road (next to B&E Furniture) onto West Erskine. The auction site is at the end of the street.

When: 10:30 a.m, Saturday

Learn more: Call Wilson Realty & Auction, (859) 236-0021 or 1-800-609-5671

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @heraldleader

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