Back in 2005, Roger and Debbie Ray were looking to relocate from northern Virginia to the Lexington area. They were seeking a respite from the busy metropolis of Washington, D.C., a place to slow down and give their young family a healthy place to grow.
“We were already coming down here several times a year to the Horse Park,” Roger said. “Our daughter was big into horses. And Kentucky has some nice tax advantages too, so for me it was a common sense move.”
They looked at many properties in and around Lexington, but remained uninspired until they found the rolling pastures, plank fences and grazing thoroughbreds surrounding 331 Almahurst Lane in Jessamine County.
“If we were going to move to the Horse Capital of the World, I wanted to really feel like we were in the Horse Capital of the World,” Debbie said. “We saw a lot of beautiful homes and neighborhoods, but until I saw those horses running, it just felt like anywhere in America.”
As much as Roger and Debbie were smitten with the horse country setting, their feelings for structure itself were less remarkable. The renovation process began with a sketch Debbie drew.
“We started talking to local builders to see what was possible,” Debbie said.
They settled on a shockingly radical solution.
“We took a bulldozer and pushed it through the center of the house from the front door all the way to the back,” Roger said. “We pushed it all out.”
The bulldozing opened up the middle of the house to some exciting possibilities, yet left the majority of the house intact and ready for reimagining.
WORLD CLASS NEIGHBORS
The new fieldstone entry with its graceful arches and double mahogany doors stands as an invitation to the expansive entry hall under a unique barrel ceiling. There’s lots of character and charm to be found in over 4700 square feet throughout the four bedrooms and 4-1/2 baths.
The marvelously remodeled home sits on 10 acres of peaceful and private bluegrass farmland that was once part of the fabled Almahurst Farm, where Kentucky Derby winner Exterminator was bred and foaled, as well as a number of great harness horses, including Greyhound.
You can spot a row of Almahurst barns from the back yard with their distinctive color scheme – green roof, cream paint and red trim. Today the surrounding farmland is owned by world class thoroughbred owner and breeder Ken Ramsey.
The overall effect of the renovation was opening up spaces and brightening up the home. Walls were moved or removed, rooms were repurposed for maximum efficiency and effect.
“This place is nothing like it was before we bought it,” Roger said. “The kitchen was a little galley and not much of anything.”
Now, the kitchen is one of their favorite spots – an open plan gourmet kitchen with gas range, granite tops, stainless appliances and handy island.
“We both like to cook,” Debbie said. “The kitchen is big enough for us both to be in here and not get in each other’s way. Roger is definitely the better cook.”
The adjoining breakfast room and spacious dining room overlook the large deck and in ground pool.
“There’s a good flow for entertaining,” Debbie said. “From the front door through the kitchen straight through to the deck and back yard.”
From the kitchen there’s a large pass through to the sunny great room with vaulted ceiling, fireplace and built-in shelving. It’s a generous space that Debbie refers to as “a family room that you can actually have the whole family in.”
The detached guest house, complete with vaulted ceilings, full bath, wood-burning stove and mini kitchen, was used by the Rays as a kid’s hang-out area, but it could easily be in-law quarters, a theater/hobby room or an office.
FIRST FLOOR LIVING
With daughter Caitlin and son Chris grown up and out of the house, Roger and Debbie find themselves living more and more on just the main floor, which includes the comfortable master suite and its spa-like features.
“It’s a large home,” Debbie said. “But it feels more homey than large.”
The next chapter of their lives may include a return to the northern Virginia, an area that holds many dear memories and friends.
The two met in Washington, D.C. while both worked at the U.S. Courthouse – Roger with the U.S. Marshals Service and Debbie with the U.S. Probation Office. They eventually moved to Virginia where Roger continued his impressive career with the U.S. Marshals Service and Debbie as an executive assistant with Federal Home Loan Banks.
Debbie and Roger will miss sitting by their fountain and watching the dramatic sunsets across the front lawn. They’ll also miss their great neighbors.
“We were truly fortunate to find this beautiful setting,” Debbie said. “So close to everything to enjoy all that the Kentucky Bluegrass area has to offer.”
This week’s feature home is listed with Joy Doyle of United Real Estate, Lexington.