A Limestone (Fin)Castle

Ancient buildings often contain stairs with hollows worn in them and railings worn smooth over time - physical manifestations of the effect of so many hands and feet which remind us to recall those who have walked before us.

Author Julia Cameron talks about these much-walked paths and the idea that the paths trod by so many people for so many years become lines of energy. It is an interesting theory and one that again asks us to remember that we are not the first to walk this way.

At least some of our roads and streets may pre-date Columbus. First, animals made trails, which Native Americans then used. The pioneers would have used the footpaths, which eventually became lanes and finally our modern-day streets with sidewalks.

Any house that has had more than one tenant also retains physical evidence of its past occupants.

Every day I ponder the character of the Clemonts who owned our house before we bought it. They both passed away before we bought the house so we never met them, but I can't help but feel as though I know them.

George left hundreds of neatly labeled French jelly jars filled with all sorts of hardware in rows on shelves in the basement, and he left thermometers everywhere. I picked up a digital thermometer to see if it still worked - on the back I found a piece of masking tape that said, "Changed batteries 5/1/88." I wanted to squeeze the meticulous man who wrote that.

Trudy left fewer clues but more pervasive evidence of her existence - she smoked, so the walls were covered with the tar of thousands of cigarettes. The linoleum in the kitchen was burned several times in the area where I assume the kitchen table sat. Some days, when things seem a little crazy, I think, it would be nice to just sit at a kitchen table and chat with Trudy while she smokes.

And that is all I know about my house. The current owners of 1611 Fincastle know exactly when the house was built, the names of past owners roll off the tongue as easily as the names of most people's family members. They know how many children the past owners had, where the walls and doorways once stood and why they were moved, and the name of the original stonemason.

For instance, the last occupants had nine children so they used the dining room as a bedroom. The wife wanted the English cottage to have a more southwestern feel so she added hand hewn ash beams to the ceiling in the living room.

The current owners undid most of the "improvements" of the last five or six decades taking the house back to its original Craftsman roots and simple floor plan while adding a thoughtful, tasteful kitchen and master bedroom addition.

The house is built from that unique Kentucky building material, Tyrone Limestone. This particular limestone, usually found 1500-2000 feet underground, surfaces from ancient faults along the Kentucky River at Clay's Ferry and near the Tyrone railroad bridge. Sometimes called "Kentucky Marble," the rock was popular in the 1940s and 1950s but no longer mined by the mid-1960s because it is so expensive to extract.

The exterior of the addition to the Fincastle house caused the architect all kinds of problems because it was important that the addition look as though it was part of the house both from the inside and the outside. Finally, they decided to reopen a quarry to retrieve more Tyrone Limestone to complete the renovation. The grandsons of the original stonemason completed a seamless addition for a cohesive look.

This is the home of a perfectionist - every window has been replaced with custom designed Marvin thermopane because the original windows weren't appropriate or energy efficient. But it is also the home of a historian who proudly showed me the original telephone nook in the wall and who repaired every floor in the place but left the patches in what is now the dining room "just to show" where the former breakfast nook stood.


1611 Fincastle Road


Approximately 3000 square feet

4 bedrooms

3 full baths

3-car garage

Contact Carol Fening 268-4663

If you have a unique or interesting house for sale contact Lissa Sims at lsims@aceweekly.com.