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FOCUS: The history behind a historic property marked for industrial development

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Duncan Road

The Frankfort-Franklin County Comprehensive Plan is often used as a reference for zoning changes, such as the one regarding a controversial zoning change at the former Blanton-Crutcher Farm at 690 Duncan Road.

A proposed industrial zoning change on historical property near the Woodford County line will be heard by the Franklin County Fiscal Court at its March 26 meeting for a first reading. 

The property, at 690 Duncan Road, is owned by Ron Tierney of Tierney Storage. He bought the land last year and plans to bring industrial development to the farm. The land, which has a long history with farming, is currently zoned for agricultural use. 

Did the Frankfort-Franklin County Planning Commission make the right decision in recommending rezoning of the old Blanton-Crutcher Farm on Duncan Road from agricultural to industrial?

You voted:

In a 5-2 vote, the Frankfort-Franklin County Planning Commission on Thursday recommended that the Franklin County Fiscal Court rezone the 85 acres to industrial. Planning Commission Chair Sherron Jackson said those unhappy with the vote can appeal it in Franklin County Circuit Court.

Only seven commissioners were eligible to vote as they were either present during public testimony at the January meeting, or reviewed a recording of it.

Tierney said following the vote that it was “very positive” and declined to comment further.

Neighbors and critics did not share the same sentiments. One Duncan Road resident said following the meeting that his next step would be to put a “For Sale” sign in his front yard. 

After Tierney’s workers last summer razed a house on the farm, which was known as the Blanton-Crutcher Farm, neighbors became concerned about the future of the farm and the development in the area. The property is near Interstate 64 at Versailles Road and close to Industrial Park #3. 

Kentucky Capital Development Corp. President Terri Bradshaw has said in interviews with The State Journal and in documents to the planning commission that Tierney’s development of the land into an industrial park could bring in jobs comparable to the existing industrial parks in the area.

She wrote in a letter submitted as findings of fact during the commission’s Thursday meeting that Tierney sold a building that housed The ReCon Group and retrofitted another for TRG, keeping 134 jobs in the county while attracting 150 new jobs from Hayashi Telempu North America.

The Duncan Road property is also a designated employment center in the Franklin County Comprehensive Plan. 

Susan Goddard, a co-director of the Duncan Road-Hilltop Meadows Association who owns property near 690 Duncan Road, said the land has significant meaning to residents. She said recent development in the area has caused flooding in places where it was not an issue before and creates constant construction sounds that disrupt what was once tranquil rural living.  

Early history

According to an application to add the Blanton-Crutcher Farm to the National Register of Historic Places, the farm has been known by several names, including the Maryland Farm. The application was dated 1975 and was among documents about the farm compiled by the Capital City Museum. The application said that the farm had agricultural and architectural significance. 

“The rolling farmland at the heart of the Bluegrass has long sustained profitable cultivation,” the application said. “The property — still actively farmed — boasts magnificent old trees, a pond, white-painted fences and other attractive features that warranted the 19th-century designation of ‘Fairview Farm.’”

The original house on the farm was built in 1796 by Carter Blanton, an ancestor of the Blantons who would go on to be Kentucky bourbon pioneers. It had two rooms with a detached kitchen and a cellar made “of stone with hand-hewn beams and large hearth opening at one end.”

Blanton was born in Caroline County, Virginia in 1765. He married Sarah Sneed before moving to Kentucky around 1792. He bought 116 acres in what is now Jett from John Craig in 1794, adding to it from time to time to make a large land holding. Blanton was appointed to be captain of the Patrollers, was a deacon in the Old Forks of Elkhorn Creek and was a part of many committees. 

Carter Blanton’s nephew Richard Crutcher bought the property, which was about 382 acres, in 1831, according to the register application. Crutcher called the farm “Fairview.” In his lifetime, he owned a hotel and served as Franklin County sheriff. He had 10 children, one of whom, son Washington, would own and renovate the Blanton-Crutcher House. 

“The Crutchers were excellent farmers. Three generations of the family farmed the land and made improvements on the house until 1919 when the property was sold," the registry application said. "It has remained a working farm with a large farmhouse at its center that has evolved over 180 years of active occupation.” 

By the 1880s, the house “was drastically enlarged and Victorianized,” the application for the register said, citing a primitive painting of the house and surrounding outbuildings. The house was asymmetrical and had elaborate porches across a majority of the front. The outbuildings, except for one, would later be replaced with a large barn and the front porches would be removed. 

“A photograph taken about 1950 shows the porch to have been a handsome latticework affair with a somewhat Gothic flavor. The remainder of the trim and overall composition of the enlarged house, with its low hipped roof, bracketed cornice and cast-iron hood molds over the segmental window openings is Italianate,” the application said. “A large first-story bay window off the front parlor further breaks the blocklife mass of the two-story building; a single-story wing at the other end of the front contributes to an impression of asymmetry suited to the country setting in Victorian eyes.”

What may have been a service yard behind the suspected original kitchen wing, an L-shaped gallery with chamfered late Victorian posts was placed over the yard. 

Last century

The farm changed several hands from 1919 to 1948, which is when Harry G. Davis and his wife, Mary, bought the property. It was named the Maryland Farm in honor of Mary Davis, the application for the historic register said. The Davises removed the deteriorating porches and modernized the library, dining room, kitchen and portions of the second story. 

“The evolution of the house from a simple, early two-story structure to an elaborate Victorian mansion, now somewhat modernized, reflects the continuing prosperity of the farm,” according to the 1975 application, which the Davises filled out themselves. 

According to Franklin County Property Valuation Administrator's Office records, Mary Davis sold the property in 1994 to George McDonald. In two estate sales in 2009, the property’s next owner was Jack McDonald. The farm was transferred from his estate to a testamentary trust in his name in 2016. Tierney Storage bought the farm from the trust in 2019. 

In early 2015, the Franklin County Trust for Historic Preservation added the Blanton-Crutcher Farm to an endangered historic places list, according to an article that appeared in The State Journal at the time. Eric Whisman, then the president of the trust, said the list was a “call to action for the people in the community to try and preserve these places.” 

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