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EKU board votes to accept ownership of White Hall estate from state

White Hall State Historic Site in 2011 was the backdrop for a documentary film on Cassius Clay shot in 2011.
White Hall State Historic Site in 2011 was the backdrop for a documentary film on Cassius Clay shot in 2011.

The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents voted to take over ownership of White Hall State Historic Site at its meeting on Friday.

The deal includes a two-year probationary period, where the state will provide $100,000 for upkeep, said spokeswoman Kristi Middleton. .

The only no vote was faculty trustee Richard Day, who had said earlier he wanted to see a condition report on the 1780s mansion, which was last renovated in 1971.

The move is part of an attempt by Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration to cut costs. It recently handed over Boone Station State Historic Site in southern Fayette County to a church as well.

A joint statement from the Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet and EKU said that if the transfer happens, White Hall and its 13 acres will remain a state historic site that is open to the public.

White Hall is a 1780s Italianate mansion first built by Revolutionary War General Green Clay and later lived in by his son, Cassius Clay, one of Kentucky’s most colorful historic figures. Cassius Clay was an anti-slavery newspaper editor who later served as an ambassador to Russia for President Abraham Lincoln.

EKU’s department of parks and recreation said the site could become financially sustainable and be a learning lab for students.

Linda Blackford is an education and accountability reporter. She has covered K-12, higher education and other topics for the past 20 years at the Herald-Leader.
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