From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Idlewild, Historic Home Near Trenton, KY

The Colonel E. G. Sebree house


"Do you know anything about that big old house along Highway 41, east of Trenton?" a blog reader asked one day. I had to say "No," because honestly, I couldn't think what house she was talking about. Then one day, as I passed the home in the photo below, I realized that of course she was talking about this big old house.

Col. Sebree house near Trenton, KY
The Colonel E. G. Sebree house near Trenton, Kentucky


This large antebellum brick mansion is near the highway, but in the summer, it's almost completely hidden by foliage and deep shade. In the fall and winter, a passing motorist can catch a glimpse of it, facing southwest behind the trees. Last week, I paused on the highway to take these photos, with one eye on the camera viewfinder and the other eye on the rear-view mirror.

This house was built about 1830, and its official name is Idlewild. One of its owners was Colonel Elijah Garth Sebree,  a prominent landowner, tobacco and cotton trader, coal mine owner, and railroad builder. Col. Sebree purchased Idlewild in the 1840s, around the time of his marriage. He and his wife lived at Idlewild for the rest of their lives, and when they died,  their daughter Georgia Sebree Banks inherited the home. It remained with the Banks family until 1983, when it was purchased by Dr. Robert Haley of Nashville and his wife Joy, a Todd County native. I don't know who owns the home currently.

IdlewildIdlewild was nominated for the National Historic Register by Miss Dolly Banks in 1980. Some architectural features mentioned in the application can be seen in the photo at right -- Corinthian columns (added sometime around 1900), stone lintels above all openings in the house, stone sills at the windows, and flush chimneys at the ends of the house.

The original kitchen was a separate brick room connected to the house by a "dogtrot" (breezeway.) When the Haleys purchased the home, they enclosed a back porch and made it into a kitchen, installed some indoor bathrooms and modernized the electrical wiring.

Read more at these links:

9 comments:

Collagemama said...

Hoping there were indoor potties before 1983. Interesting post, Gen.

Genevieve said...

I don't think there were, Collagemama. The newspaper article said that when the Haleys bought the house, no one had lived there full time except for a few caretakers since the late 1920s.

"The Haleys also explained that although Miss Dolly apparently loved Idlewild, she made no efforts to update the home or change it in any way. In fact, when she died it still had very primitive electric wiring and no indoor plumbing -- only an outdoor privy. While visiting Trenton from Washington, Miss Dolly would stay with friends at night and go to Idlewild during the daytime, sometimes just sitting there for hours by herself." (Quoted from Kentucky New Era, "Haleys' getaway nestled in Todd Co." by Cathy D. Cavanah, Aug 26, 1991, page 6A.)

Stitchy Mc Floss said...

Yay! You found it. This is the house I was asking you about. I use to travel that road often, and always wondered about that house.

Thank you for all the information on it...it's a lovely place.

Genevieve said...

I was hoping that maybe you'd see this post, Stitchy. :) There's more information about the house (the inside of it) in the KNE article that I linked to. I just gave a few basic facts here.

John Ruberry said...

Great job of research...

Genevieve said...

Thanks, John.

joyce said...

I have some good pictures of this house. Miss Dolly had us living there around 1978 as the caregivers. I took her to register the house on the historic society.

Genevieve Netz said...

That's very cool, Joyce. When you came home at night, it must have felt like you had stepped back in time...

Anonymous said...

It was nice, I wasn't working at that time. I was able to stay home. Dolly came to visit during the day. She would tell stories about her family. Joyce

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