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Exterior View of the Farmington Plantation Museum House
Courtesy the Farmington Historic Homes Foudation

The Farmington Historic Home

3033 Bardstown Road

Louisville, Kentucky 40205

Written by Julie Greiner
When in the vicinity of Louisville, Kentucky - and authenticlly restored historic plantation houses interests you - whether an antique buff and/or architecture, history or slavery is your preference - this is a tour you must partake in. Farmington is
a 14-room Federal-style home which was built for John and Lucy Fry Speed and their family of 13 children in 1815-1816. The unique architectural plan of the home includes two octagonal rooms imbedded in its center, strongly suggesting the influence of Thomas Jefferson.

History of the Farmington Kentucky Plantation

The house was the center of a 550-acre hemp plantation. Hemp, Kentucky's principal cash crop during the early 19th century, was grown to produce rope and bagging and required extensive labor in its cultivation. As many as 60 enslaved African Americans owned by John Speed
View of the grounds and gardens of Farmington Plantation Museum House
Courtesy the Farmington Historic Homes Foudation
worked the fields at Farmington and served in the house. Their labors made possible the Speeds' lifestyle and, indeed, the house itself. A few accounts of the African Americans at Farmington have survived in family letters which talk about Morocco and Rose among others. Runaway slave ads placed by John Speed describe other slaves in some detail. On-going research is attempting to uncover more about the 57 slaves named in the inventory completed when John Speed died in 1840.

Historic Farmington Restorations

Farmington Historic Home, with the assistance of an anonymous donor, has been undergoing a major restoration during the past 18
months. In 1865 Farmington was sold out of the Speed family. It remained a private residence until 1958 when the Historic Homes Foundation purchased the house and a small piece of land. In 1959, Farmington opened as the first house museum in the Louisville area. Over the years, more land was acquired and today the museum owns 18 acres of the original property. Today's project began with an historic paint analysis, which identified the original paint colors of the museum house. Farmington has been completely repainted, restoring the
View of the interior of the Farmington Plantation Museum House
Courtesy the Farmington Historic Homes Foudation
building to its original bright blues, yellows and pink. New faux-grained woodwork mimics original decorative paintings found on many surfaces. Even the walls in the basement have been white-washed as they originally were.

Antique and Reproduction Furnishings at Farmington Plantation

Much of the restoration work is based on the 1840 inventory of John Speed's possessions taken at this death. This detailed listing itemizes everything in the house at that time from carpets, curtains, window blinds and furniture to bedding, tableware and cooking equipment. Many decorative elements including ingrain carpets, wallpaper, curtains and bed dressings are being very accurately reproduced for Farmington using documentary designs appropriate to the period. As much as possible, restoration decisions have been based on research into what was available for sale in Kentucky from 1815 to 1840. Today, along with the restored plantation house, Farmington features a spring house and barn reconstructed on its original foundations, a functioning summer kitchen and blacksmith shop, as well as formal gardens and an apple orchard. An archeological dig on the property has revealed a cabin site, which possibly served as the home of the Speeds before the construction of Farmington. Artifacts reveal that it may also have been a cabin for a family of the Speeds' enslaved African-Americans. The Farmington Visitors Center houses an historical exhibit on Farmington, administrative offices and a gift shop.

Farmington is open year-round Tuesday through Saturday beginning at 10:00 a.m. Tours begin on the hour with the last tour starting each day at 3:45 p.m. Sunday tours begin at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. Group rates are available for both student and adult groups. Call (502) 452-9920 for further details.

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Last Updated: September 23, 2015