Saving the home of a bourbon baron

Anderson County, Ky., is an important stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour, home to both the Wild Turkey and Four Roses distilleries. In the heyday of bourbon production before Prohibition, it was home to even more distilleries, and bourbon barons built many of the fine homes that line Main Street in Lawrenceburg, the county seat.

One of those homes has fallen on hard times – but the relatives of T.B. Ripy, who owned several distilleries in Anderson County, including the one on the Kentucky River where Wild Turkey is now made, and who built the grand Queen Anne-style home, are trying to save it.

Cousins Tom Ripy and George Geoghegan bought the 11,000-square-foot mansion (above) at foreclosure in 2010. They’ve done a lot of cleaning up, but fully restoring the home will take a lot more money. Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Tom Eblen wrote a column recently about their efforts; you can read it here.

The upshot is that they hope someone will buy it for a commercial use. That’s what happened with the grand home directly across the street from the Ripy mansion:

Dowling Hall was built in 1886 by John Dowling, an Irish immigrant who also distilled whiskey in¬†Anderson County. Over the years, Dowling Hall has been a funeral home, a dentist office and a bed and breakfast; it’s now available for rent for special events such as wedding receptions.

I took these photos during a recent visit to Lawrenceburg, my husband’s hometown. Its Main Street truly is beautiful, and the Ripy mansion, which sits on five acres, holds a prominent spot. I hope someone will recognize its value both to the town and to Kentucky’s bourbon heritage and restore it to its original grandeur.

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The Bourbon Babe