Farmington

Farmington, an 18-acre (7.3 ha) historic site in Louisville, Kentucky, was once the center of a hemp plantation owned by John and Lucy Speed. The 14-room, Federal-style brick home was possibly based on a design by Thomas Jefferson and has several Jeffersonian architectural features.

History

The Farmington site was part of a military land grant given to Captain James Speed in 1780. His son, John Speed, completed Farmington on a tract of land in 1816. Built in the Federal architectural style, the house is based on plans by Thomas Jefferson, which are now in the Coolidge Library in Massachusetts Historical Society.

Speed built the house for his wife, Lucy Gilmer Fry, daughter of Joshua Fry and granddaughter of Dr. Thomas Walker, the guardian of Thomas Jefferson. Her aunt and uncle's home in Charlottesville, Virginia was called Farmington and had an addition designed by Thomas Jefferson.

Their son, Joshua Fry Speed, was an intimate, life-long friend of Abraham Lincoln. While courting Mary Todd, Lincoln spent three weeks at Farmington in 1841 while recovering from mental and physical exhaustion.

John and Lucy's son, James Speed, was appointed Attorney General of the United States by Lincoln in 1863.

Design

Farmington consists of a single story above a raised basement. The building is roughly a square shape, measuring 62 feet (19 m) wide by 50 feet (15 m) long. There are 14 rooms of living quarters on the first floor, with servant's and children's rooms on the basement floor. The first story is about five feet above ground level, with the basement windows completely above ground. All rooms in the basement are finished except one under the front hall, which has a dirt floor. A basement kitchen is connected to the first floor dining room by dumbwaiter.

A simplified classical cornice under the hipped roof helps give the house its pleasing, proportional appearance. The front entrance is a tetrastyle portico (porch) with slender Doric columns, reached by 11 steps. The porch's gable features a semi-circular ventilation window.

The front door opens into a central hall which has a door at the back leading to a rear hall. These two halls give access to all rooms on the first floor, as well as stairs to the basement and attic. The stairs are hidden, which is a common feature of homes designed by Jefferson.

A notable feature of the first floor are two 24-foot (7.3 m) wide octagonal rooms, another distinctive feature of Jeffersonian architecture. One of the octagonal rooms is a dining hall, the other is a parlor. Other rooms on the first floor are two bedrooms, a study and a family sitting room.

Preservation

Farmington has been restored as a tourist attraction and a re-creation of a 19th century plantation. The house itself had been altered little at the time it was purchased by the Historic Homes Foundation for preservation in 1958. The only substantial change in its interior or exterior appearance since construction was the installation of a tin roof in place of the original wood shingles, which was done for fire safety reasons.

As of 2011, Farmington and a small visitors center are open to the public for tours and available for rentals.

Building Activity

  • Georgi Sokolov
    Georgi Sokolov updated
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com
  • badwaycafe
    badwaycafe updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com
  • joecola33
    joecola33 updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com
  • updated and updated 2 digital references
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com
  • steven ward
    steven ward commented
    Should probably read 'based on design by Thomas Jefferson'. As I understand it, the original resident was a Jefferson acquaintance, loved what he saw back east, a translated it for Ky. Could also note that Lincoln Slept Here because of the several weeks Abe spent as a guest at Farmington.
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com
  • steven ward
    steven ward commented
    Should probably read 'based on design by Thomas Jefferson'. As I understand it, the original resident was a Jefferson acquaintance, loved what he saw back east, a translated it for Ky. Could also note that Lincoln Slept Here because of the several weeks Abe spent as a guest at Farmington.
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com