The George Franklin Berry Estate was previously called Juniper Hill. Today it is simply Berry Mansion and overlooks the Kentucky State Capitol and the town of Frankfort. Berry was a successful distiller. He hired the architectural firm of McDonald and Dodd to build the mansion in 1900. It was built in the Colonial Revival style with stones that came from the property. Today it is owned by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Backstory and Context
George Franklin Berry was born in Indiana and was brought to Kentucky when he was only six weeks old. Berry’s father and uncle were into the bourbon business. They owned a company known as W. A. Gaines and Company that distilled Old Crow Bourbon and E.H Taylor bourbon – which are still around today. George Berry also got into the family business later in his adult life. The Berry’s sold their portion of the company in the later 1930s and retired at the Berry Mansion.
The Berry Mansion most notable feature is an elaborate music room built in Gothic Revival style by architect William Dodd, estimated to be built for around $65,000. It has a massive cathedral organ on the north wall. It took two years for a pair of European wood carvers to carve the details of the room. The room also features large bay windows, stained glass, and a library balcony. The music room was completed in 1912. There is a main part of the mansion and also a service quarters. There is a ‘period room’ named for the vast amount of history for the house found within this one room.it has the original tapestry, furniture, bills, and photographs.
It became known as Berry Hill Estate after it was acquired by the Commonwealth in 1957. For a while, it housed the State Department for Libraries and Archives. Some state offices are still located there. However, it is primarily used for meetings and special events. It is open weekdays for self-guided tours.
The property was soon purchased by the state in the 50s and some of the 200 acres were used for other things such as a golf course and a park. The names are historically significant the land as well. The golf course is named Jupiter hill golf course after the old name of the Berry Mansion. The park is named Jennifer Hill after Berry’s wife.
The Berry Mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. The mansion hosts events from meetings to weddings now and can hold up to two hundred and fifty guests.