Monday, January 30, 2012

Mending Wall

A section of our 220+ year old dry stone wall fell down last November (not to be confused with the modern stone wall that was taken out by a Range Rover in December). We'd been expecting problems with that section of the wall, built by William Croghan as a retaining wall on the south and west of his mansion house. It had developed a lean to the west, pushed out  by the roots of an ill-sited tree. 

Now the tree has been removed, the stump ground out, and wall repairs have commenced, on this bizarre warm and sunny January day. Master stonemason Neil Rippingale is here rebuilding the wall from the base up, using no-mortar techniques that have been honed over centuries. It will take a few days to repair. The rest of the wall needs some attention too, and we plan to continue the work of maintenance and repair over the next several years.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Confessions of a Costumed Interpreter

One of our young costumed interpreters, Clare Egan, has written a post about her experiences on the blog of the Kentucky Historical Society - it's right here: . Congratulations, Clare!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

SUV vs. Sign = a mess

Last week an SUV skidded on Blankenbaker Lane next to our driveway, and the resulting crash was not good for our main entrance sign. Fortunately no one was seriously injured, but much of the stone base for the sign, constructed five years ago, is now halfway down the hill towards River Road. The sign itself is bent a little, and the "cust" fell off  the logo on one side. Our staff was able to force the sign back into position, so people can still find the entrance. The sign's installers and stone masons are offering estimates, insurance will cover it, but in the meantime the entrance to Locust Grove looks sad. We'll try to get it fixed as fast as possible. Visitors don't seem to be deterred.

Take care on Blankenbaker Lane, people! Winter is coming, respect the road!

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Americans

Today the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky met here at Locust Grove, for the purpose of swearing in 73 new citizens of the United States.

It's not a great picture, but it was a great day. People from 34 different countries came, documents in hand, with their families and supporters, to become Americans. They came from Cuba, Bosnia, Scotland, Belarus, Columbia, Nigeria.... it was inspiring. Some had come by free choice, others had come to America as refugees after horrific struggles.

The children's chorus from the Chance School sang the national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, each new American swore to uphold the Constitution, speeches were made by former Congressman Romano Mazzoli and Locust Grove Director Carol Ely, and the event was over.

Each new American left not only with citizenship papers, but with tickets to return to Locust Grove for a visit on another occasion.

We were very honored to have shared in this day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Locust Grove, Media Superstar

We've been so busy here that we've ignored this blog. Last weekend was the best 18th Century Market Fair in the history of 18th Century Market Fairs - just shows what perfect weather will do! We had news crews here from WAVE and WLKY interviewing the re-enactors and filming the battles - see the video here.

Locust Grove will also be featured in the next bridal issue of Louisville Magazine - the photo shoot, on a rainy weekday, brought models and stylists and photographers to the site, with yards of white tulle and exotic footwear, a very fashion-forward day on the grounds! We can still smell the hairspray...

Today we have a photographer and reporter from the food section of the Courier-Journal here, talking with chef Mark Williams of Brown-Forman, who will be offering a Thanksgiving program for us on the 12th of November, featuring local foods.

It's a beautiful place to be, especially at this time of year. Come over, rest, breathe.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The War of 1812: the Movie

In all the commotion about the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War (and we've all learned a new word there!), an earlier American conflict has been unfairly overlooked - the War of 1812. It's the Bicentennial of that war, beginning next year and running through 1815. I'm sure that you are all busy making your plans now for your personal celebrations.

But, seriously, some of us here at Locust Grove are preparing for our own commemoration, focusing on the generation of Kentuckians who were literally children of the Revolution, many of whom fought to complete the war with England that their fathers had battled a generation earlier. George Croghan, the second son of William and Lucy Croghan, was the "hero of Fort Stephenson", winning a battle using tactics that seem to have been inspired by the military daring of his uncle, George Rogers Clark. Expect more programs and events in the coming year to explore and to try to illuminate this conflict, which is poorly understood by most Americans.

Here's a link to a very funny video dramatizing our ignorance, in the form of a trailer for a film that we'd love to see - The War of 1812: the Movie. But then we're history geeks. But then, since you're reading this, so are you!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Locust Grove is at least 216 years old, and remarkably strong for its age. William Croghan sited it well, built soundly, and his immediate heirs kept it intact.

The 1960s restoration was state-of-the-art for the time, and, though decisions were made that would not be made today, the House was strengthened and renewed. Since then, site owners Jefferson County and then Metro Parks have worked with  Historic Locust Grove, Inc. to maintain the integrity (in all senses of the word) of the structure.

In the past few years we've not only redone the interiors from the plaster to the wallpaper, we've replaced roof flashing, entire chimneys, reinforced the stairs, added drainage, and so much more.

But until now, we've never had a really comprehensive look at the building as a whole, how it works structurally, and how it will continue to stand and resist the forces of gravity and water. So last summer we formed a committee (of course) and began working with architect Charles Raith of Milner Associates and his engineering team for a complete engineering assessment of the building.

After the initial interior visual inspections and measurements and document gathering, a laser measurement specialist arrived and began detailed and extremely precise mapping of every exterior surface of the building, each brick, each crack in each brick, each deformation or deflection from the ideal. Over time, we will be able to measure tiny shifts and see if we have a problem developing BEFORE it causes disaster.

This week, preservation engineer Nicole Ferran went up in a hydraulic lift (thanks, Louisville Metro Parks Forestry Department!) to visually inspect the exterior bricks and the roof.