AUGUST 10, 2020
Corner in Celebrities Historic District
Nestled along the Kentucky River in northern Frankfort, this neighborhood earned “celebrity” status because many of its structures were once occupied by prominent citizens in American history. Architecturally speaking, the area boasts a wide array of styles that were popular during the colonial period when Frankfort was founded (1786—six years before Kentucky itself became a state) which reflects the aesthetic movements of its non-Indigenous inhabitants.
Amos Kendall’s House
Perhaps the most notable feature of this house is the small second-floor balcony located directly above the first-floor entrance, as well as the symmetrically arranged windows that flank both front doors. Such elements are considered staples of Georgian houses of the early colonial era. However, the decorative spiral cornice set atop each window is a design element more akin to the Federal style, which was a movement that sought to connect early American ideals with the republican philosophies of Greece and Rome. Constructed in 1820, during the height of the Federalist Party’s influence, the Amos Kendall house displays the kind of subtle ornateness that had become characteristic of Federal architecture.
What’s also interesting is the structure that adjoins the Kendall House on its west side. As evidenced by the intricately carved corbels that wrap around beneath the roof’s edge, this curious place seems to be a kind of Italianate-style shotgun house. With a front porch that connects directly to its neighbor, it is likely that this addition was constructed later to accommodate residents that may have worked in the Kendall House.
But of course, the notoriety of this building comes from the fact that Amos Kendall—U.S. Postmaster General from 1835 to 1840—once lived here. Among many of his endeavors, he was best known for his deep support for President Andrew Jackson and how that loyalty plunged his career into corruption. During his tenure at the Postal Service, Kendall orchestrated the slow delivery of newspapers that were critical of the president and ordered fast deliveries of newspapers that were friendly to the Jackson administration. Several lawsuits were eventually filed against Kendall for his actions.
His professional life wasn’t all bad, though. In 1956, a local court granted Kendall custodianship over a group of orphaned deaf and blind children. He donated a portion of his estate in Washington D.C. to house the children and founded the Kendall School, where he later hired Edward Miner Gallaudet as its first superintendent. Kendall provided the foundation for what is now known as Gallaudet University—the only college designed for Deaf people in the world.
Constructed around 1810, this building is noteworthy for a few reasons. Not only is it one of the oldest wood-frame structures in the state, it was also created using a nogging technique where the gaps between the timber posts were filled in with fired bricks. As the historical marker at the front of the house indicates, such methods were common in New England but extremely rare in Central Kentucky. However, the clapboard sidings that cover the frame are very much an architectural hallmark of Appalachian pioneers.
According to a 1998 research essay published by the Kentucky Heritage Council, early Kentuckians used clapboards on lower-quality properties like outhouses and cabins, which makes its presence on the Garrard-Crittenden House unique and likely the reason it remains largely intact. As author William J. Macintire explained, “Often [clapboards] are an early improvement to a formerly exposed log house. Most log buildings that exist today survive because the logs have been covered, protecting them from the elements.”
This place was also once home to Thomas L. Crittenden (son of John J. Crittenden: U.S. Senator, Representative, Attorney General, and 17th Governor of Kentucky) who occupied it for about four years before selling it to James H. Garrard (grandson of James Garrard: farmer, minister, and 2nd Governor of Kentucky). The house was eventually sold to the Hoge family in 1902 where it became known as the “Hoge House.” In 1973, the state purchased the building and used it for office space until 2014 when it was auctioned off to a private bidder.