Friday, May 2, 2008

The History of Lyon County Kentucky - Part 11

The Woodruff House
By Margaret Wilford

[This article contains a picture with the following caption: “The Woodruff House in old Kuttawa is now home to Eddie and Margaret Wilford who purchased and renovated it.”]

In 1921, Mr and Mrs Woodruff, Louis and Mary, rented a house from Preston Ordway which was to be their home for the rest of their lives. It was located at Lot 2, Block 4, on the north side of Oak Street, Kuttawa.

On Dec. 17, 1930, they purchased the 55-year old house and became the seventh owners. The present owners, Eddie and Margaret Wilford, bought the home from the Woodruff heirs on Aug. 20, 1992.

When the Wilfords bought the house, they did not know that the property had once belonged to Margaret (Bingham) Wilford’s great-great-grandfather John Bingham. Bingham acquired the house and lot from Governor Anderson on Oct. 8, 1885. Governor Anderson had sold the lot in 1875 to Robert Dulaney of Louisville, and his brother, Charles Dulaney of Clark County, Ill. Under grant terms and conditions.

The Dulaneys paid Governor Anderson $1 (one dollar) and agreed “to build a good and substantial commodious house and storehouses to be used and occupied by themselves” within six calendar months. The deed was recorded July 3, 1875.

Robert Dulaney kept the property until March 30, 1881, when Governor Anderson repurchased three parcels of land (Lots 1, 2, and 3) for $750. Governor Anderson then sold the property to John Bingham in 1885, and Bingham sold it to L. P. Holland of Cumberland City, Tenn. On Jan 14, 1893.

On March 29, 1893, Holland mortgaged the “dwelling, butcher shop and other improvements” for $400 at 6 percent interest.

Mr. Holland and his wife, Jaimie, received $500 cash from James T. Rice of Kuttawa on April 24, 1899. Mr. Rice owned the house until April 11, 1907, when it was sold to Preston Ordway. Louis Woodruff bought the property in 1930, and his wife, Mary Fleming Woodruff, inherited the home at Lot 2, Block 4, Oak Street, when he died in 1957. Mary Woodruff lived in and owned the home for another 35 years. She died in 1992 at the age of 97.

When the Woodruffs purchased the house, they made several changes, improvements and modernizations. In 1930, the house contained four large rooms and two porches. The Woodruffs added indoor plumbing, a bathroom and a closet on the south side. They enclosed the backporch and converted it into a sunporch where Mrs. Woodruff kept her plants.

One end of the porch was made into a large pantry. The kitchen where Dr. T. L. Phillips had removed Mrs. Woodruff’s tonsils in the 1920s was converted into a bedroom, and Mrs. Woodruff moved her kitchen into the adjoining room.

Ancient pipes found in floors of both “kitchens” verified this information. Still later, Mrs. Woodruff moved her kitchen into the pantry and converted her 1930 kitchen into a dining room. The house was wired for electricity during this time and the ceiling fixtures Mrs. Woodruff chose in 1930 were still there in 1992.

In the woodruff’s early days, the back lot (backyard) contained an outhouse and a combination chicken house and stable. These were located next to the alley as far up the mountain as possible. The Woodruffs had both horses and chickens.

In 1938, the Woodruffs decided to install a coal furnace which meant they now needed a basement. This basement was dug by hand with a pick and shovel by W. T. Moore and Mark Sexton. Mr. Moore, who lives in Lyon County, says that digging mountain gravel and carrying it out in buckets was no easy task.

When the Wilfords bought the house in 1992, it had been more than 60 years since the Woodruff renovations. Needed repairs, additions and modernizations were greatly facilitated because the original structure was extremely strong, sturdy and straight.

The original, beveled glass, oak front door was refinished by Eddie Wilford and is a focal point of the house. The stained glass windows and all other windows on the main level were kept. The 12-foot ceilings and most original transoms were retained. A new stained glass transom was added between the living and dining rooms.

Exterior transoms were placed above French doors which gave the house a light airy feeling. Golden oak hardwood floors, fluted wood work and an oak staircase leading to the second level were installed. The second level was originally an unfinished attic with a 12-foot ceiling. Brass chandeliers replaced the lighting installed in 1930. Central heat and air conditioning replaced the outdated caol furnace and window air conditioners.

The kitchen has been returned to its original location where Mrs. Woodruff’s tonsillectomy was performed. The back porch has been re-opened and a large deck has been erected on the upper level facing the mountain. The fron porch has been raised to two story level. The entrance has been further enhanced by four large Pillars which give the house a more stately appearance.

During the renovation process, Frank Wilford found an old brick labeled “Kuttawa Brick Works”. He also found a board in the dining room wall which had one of the earlier floor plans sketched on it. Encasing such sketches in walls was an earlier custom.

The old house on Lot 2, Block 4, Oak Street, Kuttawa, now with its eighth owners, Eddie and Margaret Wilford, has been given a new address for 911 purposes. It is currently listed as 1904 Lake Barkley Drive.

Anecdotal information was mainly provided by Mrs. Woodruff’s nephew, Charles Dunn, who lives in Claxton, Ga. Other anecdotal information was furnished by W. T. Moore of Lyon County, Mrs. Gladys Jones of Elkton and the house itself.

Documented information was obtained from deed and mortgage records in the Lyon County Courthouse.


Russell J Robertson said...

I would love to see a picture of this house. Mary Fleming Woodruff, aka: Aunt Berry was my great aunt. I can remember going to visit her with my Mom when I was a little boy and climbing through the windows from the Kitchen to the Sunroom. Aunt Berry was my maternal grandmothers sister, Bobbie Lee Dunn. The last time I remember being in Kuttawa and visiting Aunt Berry was in about 1979 or 1980. My wife and I were on our way back to St. Louis and we stopped by the visit with Aunt Berry. She was one of the most wonderful people you could ever know, I have really fond memories of my visits to Kuttawa to visit with her and many other relatives I had that lived there and are still there. Both my mother and father were from Kuttawa.

Deb said...

I scanned in the picture from the articles I had transcribed. It's not a great picture as the newpaper is OLD. I can't reply to you, so please email me at and I'll send you the picture.