This 1890 house with six bedrooms and three full and two half bathrooms is set in the Duncan Avenue Historic District of Paris, 18 miles northeast of Lexington.
The massive structural appearance lends the 4,833 square foot home a sense of permanence as is characteristic of the Romanesque architectural style. Other period identifiers on the exterior include the arched windows, the horizontal belt course, limestone accents contrasting with the masonry, and the conical tower and turret.
“The intricate masonry is finer than any I’ve ever seen in Kentucky,” says listing agent Jane Allen Offutt, who has sold her share of historic properties in the Bluegrass area over the last 32 years.
“The style is actually Richardsonian, a break off of the Romanesque,” Ms. Offutt says, referencing the style of Henry Hobson Richardson and his successors who, unlike other architects of the time, practiced architecture as a fine art.
“Because of the turrets on the outside and the asymmetry, there are all of these uniquely shaped rooms and spaces,” says Ms. Offutt. “People of the time didn’t want to just exist in four square walls like what we’re seeing in the new houses of today. Where’s the romance in that?”
The home was constructed in 1890 by Joseph M. Hall, president of the Deposit Bank of Paris.
“He built a house to acknowledge his successful career,” says Ms. Offutt. “He was creating a grand home to enjoy and to leave as a legacy — the hand carved medallions, the parquet floors, the look was really swish and expensive.”
AHEAD OF ITS TIME
Jim Brady, the current owner of 124 Duncan Avenue, is Thoroughbred industry icon who was general manager of Elmendorf Farm for 28 years. He reminisces about how he and his wife, Jane, found the house.
“We fell in love with it before we had even seen the interior,” Mr. Brady said. “We would come by here on the way to visit an aunt of mine who lived over this way. My wife would always say she loved this house.”
“We had planned to build a home at Bradyleigh Farm, my farm on Paris Pike,” Mr. Brady said. But those plans quickly changed one day when he spotted a For Sale sign on the Duncan Avenue house. “We took a look at it, and I made an offer.”
That was more than 30 years ago. “My wife died three years ago,” said Mr. Brady. “It’s been tough since, but I’ve managed to keep the place in pretty good condition.”
“It’s really been to Mr. Brady’s credit, that he has treasured what he had and kept so many of the home’s original features,” says Ms. Offutt, the realtor. “It’s amazing that the house has been around over a hundred years and no one has come in and ruined it with a heavy-handed remodel job.”
With its large rooms, large closets, walk-in closets, many windows and abundance of bathrooms, the home has a surprisingly open and contemporary feel.
“Usually in these historic homes you’ll have two bathrooms, one up and one down,” Ms. Offutt said. “And you’ll find no closets or very small closets. This was a very grand house for its day.”
A WORK OF ART
The fireplace near the front entry is flanked by built-in seats and features Rookwood ceramics. “The tiles are called Pastoral View,” Ms. Offutt said. “It’s an absolute work of art. There were only a few of them ever done.”
Among the many other notable features of the home: numerous hand-carved fireplaces, pocket doors in the living room, built-in shelves in the dining room, front and back staircases to the second floor, original Italian tile floor in the kitchen, and stained glass in the master suite. The HVAC throughout was unobtrusively updated last year.
During a tour of the premises Mr. Brady, 88, led the way up the steps all the way to the third floor like a youngster.
“It’s a tenth of a mile around the yard,” Mr. Brady said, describing his morning routine. “So ten laps around is a mile, and I’m never far from shelter.”
Vision and hearing issues keep him closer to home these days, but he mentions that he is fond of the quiet and walkable neighborhood.
“Downtown Paris is a block away,” Mr. Brady said. “It’s an easy walk to Rotary, to the bank, to the post office, or to the barber shop.”
“It’s not that I really want to leave here,” Mr. Brady says. “I’m in pretty good shape physically. I just don’t need this much room.”
This week’s feature home is listed with Jane Allen Offutt of Offutt Realty.