The $325,000 in renovations to the Orlando Brown House are officially complete, and Rep. Ben Chandler was on hand for a celebration ceremony Thursday morning.
Project supporters say the facelift for one of Frankfort’s historic homes successfully preserved its 1850s look while adding 21st century perks, like air conditioning and a ramp for visitors with mobility challenges.
Chandler, who spearheaded efforts to get the building a $150,000 grant from the Save America’s Treasures program, praised Frankfort’s commitment to celebrating Kentucky heritage.
Save America’s Treasures is administered by the National Park Service and provides funds for restoring some of America’s most significant historic structures.
“In a time like this in particular, when you see nothing but bad news on television, it’s nice to have something that can bring a community together,” Chandler said Thursday.
“I think it’s absolutely critical that we celebrate our history. Maybe it shows that we can make it. Maybe it shows that we have some really solid underpinnings and that we come from quality men and women here.”
Funds were used in part to renovate the back porch to its original 1850s look and to add a ramp and accessible restroom, opening the home to visitors with mobility challenges. Additional money was used for HVAC units and humidifiers, which were also installed in the adjacent Liberty Hall.
Hawkins Construction Co. of Lawrenceburg and Wade Hatchell HVAC of Lawrenceburg completed the renovations.
According to Patrick Kennedy of the Kentucky Heritage Council, old photos were used to guide construction of the porch and strict rehabilitation guidelines were followed to make sure the home’s historical integrity was kept throughout the project.
“Typically, you don’t want to make anything new or create something that never was,” he said.
Jennifer Koach, education and volunteer coordinator for the house, said she was pleased with the renovations and how they would open the house for more community activity.
“I’ve been here for three years and we could never use the porch,” she said. “It literally felt like it was going to fall off the house - the upstairs was unusable. But we’ve had events like this and receptions and dinners – it’s beautiful now. The whole staff is thrilled.”
The Orlando Brown House, owned by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is open to visitors for tours Tuesday through Saturday from March to December. For more information, call 227-2560 or go to libertyhall.org.