GEORGETOWN — The Scott County house that one observer declared 110 years ago "would last forever" is now a pile of rubble.
The Robert Sanders House, built by an early Thoroughbred horse breeder, has been slowly demolished during the past month. By Thursday, little remained standing of the first brick house in Scott County.
"It's a loss that we can't put back together again," said Scott County historian Ann Bolton Bevins. "It was a Georgian house of such caliber and such character and such detail, and its associations were so very great with Robert Sanders' connection to the development of horse breeding in Kentucky and horse racing in Kentucky."
The house was thought to have been built in 1797, only five years after Kentucky joined the union as the 15th state.
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The demolition disappointed preservationists who had sought to save the house. The Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation had hoped to help owner Ken Jackson find a buyer for the property. Jackson, a Lexington lawyer, is co-owner of Kentuckiana Farms, a Standardbred breeding operation in Fayette and Scott counties.
Jackson could not be reached for comment Friday. He and others were responsible for restoration of the Flournoy House, a nearby 18th-century stone structure that had been inhabited by cows, raccoons and wasps before it was restored in the late 1990s.
The 21/2-story Sanders House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but that designation didn't protect it.
Only established local laws give preservationists the tools to stop properties from being demolished. Without a local preservation ordinance, buildings on the National Register have no protection.
The Sanders House had walls that were 31/2 feet thick. In 1904, Scott County historian B.O. Gaines wrote that the Sanders House "would last forever," according to Lexington lawyer and blogger Peter Brackney.
But the house had been on the Blue Grass Trust's 2004 and 2009 lists of "endangered properties." It was for sale in 2004 and in 2009, described as "neglected."
Robert Sanders settled on a 1,000-acre tract in what is now Scott County about 1790, when Kentucky was part of Virginia. A family history refers to him as "the wealthiest pioneer in the state."
He was also the owner of Scott County's first racetrack and the operator of a tavern. He died in 1805.