Homeseller

Cynthiana Victorian built for bourbon distiller

This grand old Victorian known as Ashbrook at 405 East Bridge Street in Cynthiana was built for bourbon distiller Felix Ashbrook in 1885.

In recent years, the house has been lovingly brought back to life by Wayne and Nell Anne Gossett. As Nell Anne sees it, their restoration project is a small part of a growing renaissance in Cynthiana.

“There’s been a lot of movement and a lot of interesting stuff in Cynthiana over the last 10 years,” Nell Anne said. “A lot of new homes and a lot of new business have come to town. There’s an artsy feel. It’s a wonderful little Mayberry.”

Enterprises like Ananda Hemp, a global leader in CBD research and production have invigorated the town, as well as the Maiden City Brewery, Melinda’s Boutique, and the recently opened Burley Market & Café.

And, of course, there’s the massive “Walking Dead” mural by renowned Portuguese artist Sergio Odeith — a tribute to Cynthiana native sons Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore, co-creators of the series.

In addition to the Ashbrook House, the Gossetts have contributed to the urban renewal with the Prizing House.

“We host weddings and events there,” Nell Anne said. “It’s an old tobacco warehouse with a lot of character that we restored.”

STRONG FOUNDATIONS

Original owner Felix Ashbrook was associated with Keller Distillery and Van Hook Distillery, and was Cynthiana’s mayor. The house was later occupied by Judge Clay Dedman, who had family connections to the Ashbrooks.

A 1975 feature story in the Cynthiana Democrat penned by Sandra Duncan offered this description, “The large old Victorian mansion has 60 windows, 40 doors, five staircases, an entrance on each side, twenty or more rooms, three full baths, seven gables and eight fireplaces.”

“The foundation, approximately two feet thick, is of hewn stone and was made by hand. The walls are 16 inches thick between each room.”

Today the four-bedroom, four-bath, 3,968-square-foot home has been fully renovated and restored with stunning millwork, high ceilings, pocket doors, and hardwood floors throughout. The grand staircase in the entrance hall, steps up to a landing with stained glass and on to the second floor bedrooms.

During the renovation the Gossetts removed between 12 and 17 layers of wallpaper in various areas. But they caught some breaks too. “It’s hard to find an older home any more, where the woodwork was not painted over,” Wayne said.

EASTLAKE AND “STICK” STYLES

They embraced the history of the house, striving to maintain the home’s original integrity when possible. Nell Anne points out the rare Victorian “stick” style features in the gables, and the beauty of the Eastlake influences in the geometric patterns of the brass door hardware, the transom design.

“When we got here, the house had been unoccupied for ten years or so, and the kitchen was almost non-existent,” Nell Anne said. They creatively updated the space with commercial grade appliances, marble tops salvaged from a monastery, and a floor-to-ceiling wine rack serviced by a vintage rolling ladder.

The large back deck is a favorite spot for Nell Anne.

“It’s an important part of my mental health,” she said. “I usually have wine out on the deck and read in the evenings. It’s my therapy and feels very private.”

As they prepare to leave the house to new owners, the Gossetts won’t stray far from Cynthiana where Nell Anne’s parents both still live. “There have been a lot of wonderful things happen in this home over the years, and I think you can feel that. We have loved living here.”

This week’s feature home is listed with Beverly Cooper of Re/Max Creative Realty in Georgetown. To see more images of the home, visit the Homeseller gallery at Kentucky.com.

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