Home & Garden

Renovation of historic Lexington house takes it back to its beginnings

According to the neighborhood association, the rusticated stone bow window was added to the 19th-century house when it was renovated more than 100 years ago.
According to the neighborhood association, the rusticated stone bow window was added to the 19th-century house when it was renovated more than 100 years ago. Herald-Leader

The grand two-story brick house at 462 West Third Street was a childhood marvel for Katie Cassidy Sutherland.

When she was a girl, Sutherland and her family lived in the neighborhood, and she would circle nearby Hampton Court on her bike, emerging from under the street's arched entrance with a perfect view of No. 462's stone bay window and peaked roof.

At the time, artist and eccentric Henry Faulkner lived in the house with his goats, which he famously took to parties with him.

"He would put jewelry on them and sometimes shoes," said Sutherland, now a Yale-educated architect at Daniel V. Scully/Architects in New Hampshire. "His best friend was a goat named Alice."

The backyard of the house was a wild, overgrown place that, as Sutherland said, seemed to a child like an adventure.

For the past year, Sutherland has enjoyed her own adventure. She is the architect for a renovation of the circa-1880 house. Sutherland is working with Crawford Builders, a 40-year-old Lexington firm, and the renovation has included converting the home from an apartment building to a single-family house, designing a two-story addition on the back of the home, and generally getting it back into shape.

The fruit of Sutherland's work will be on display May 19 during the Northside Neighborhood Association Historic Home and Garden Tour, which includes 16 sites. The home is vacant and unfurnished, highlighting the architecture and renovation work.

Sutherland was hired by the house's new owner, Jay Farmer, who also grew up in the neighborhood. He went on to have a long, distinguished career in the Marine Corps including years as a pilot. He retired as a lieutenant colonel and stayed on in a civilian job in Japan, where he and his wife, Kaoru, are raising twin boys.

The Farmers plan to move back to Kentucky when their sons finish high school in a few years. In the meantime, they hope to lease the renovated building, which is valued at $300,000, according to the Fayette County property valuation administrator's website.

Farmer and Sutherland remember the house as it was, before it was carved into apartments and fell into disrepair after Faulkner died in 1981.

Faulkner's spirit reappeared early into the renovation process when Sutherland found an animal bone in the basement.

"I kind of knew when I found it, it just must be best friend Alice," Sutherland said.

In addition to the colorful lore attached to the address, the house itself is a wonder, she said.

Finding those elements took some work.

An upstairs bedroom, with its beautiful original stained glass, had plaster falling off the ceiling. Sutherland said the house had been reconfigured in some ill-advised ways, and it was lucky the roof hadn't caved because supporting beams had been pulled out. In the end, it had to be completely reframed.

Pete Cassidy, Sutherland's dad and a Farmer family friend, said all the house's wiring and plumbing had to be replaced, too.

During the past year, the place has been transformed. The renovated house maintains much of the original glory of the structure. The hardwood floors remain, there are six working fireplaces, and many of the windows have original glass.

Even the addition was true to the original spirit of the Italianate/Romanesque style of the house. A two-story addition on the back turned what was a one-bedroom apartment into a master suite, with a light-filled walk-in closet and a modern master bathroom with white tile and marble in keeping with the historical elements of the rest of the house.

The expansion involved adding a sunroom and a mudroom on the first floor. The former galley kitchen was enlarged, and a new back porch was created.

Sutherland said she is pleased with how the addition turned out. "I think the back entry now is kind of contemporary but respectful to the rest of the house," she said.

Sutherland said she was honored to be a part of the project.

"I felt lucky," she said. "It was a great excuse to come back home. I love the house and I love the history."


Northside Neighborhood Association Historic Home & Garden Tour

What: Self-guided tour of about 16 houses and buildings in one of Lexington's oldest residential neighborhoods.

When: Noon-5 p.m. May 19

Where: A map and list of tour sites will be distributed with tickets but also is available at Bit.ly/ZQ1WfF.

Tickets: $15 adults, $5 ages 4-17. Tickets are available in advance at Northsidelex.com and 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. May 19 on Elsmere Park, at Transylvania University's Old Morrison Building on Third Street between Market and Mill streets, and at West Sixth Brewing, 501 W. Sixth St.

Party provides a preview

Before the Northside home and garden tour, the house at 462 West Third Street will play host to a fundraising party for the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation featuring more than 40 works of art by former resident Henry Faulkner.

The art for the one-day-only show, from the Greene A. Settle Collection, was curated by Lexington artist Bob Morgan. The paintings and limited-edition prints will be available for sale at the event.

The party is 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Reservations are required. Tickets are $25, $20 for trust members, with appetizers and beverages included. Call (859) 253-0362 for reservations.


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