The Cleveland Place
The Cleveland Place is a stately two story brick home just outside Versailles, KY. It was built by William Cleveland after purchasing an estate previously owned by the Crittenden Family. John Crittenden, former Governor of Kentucky, US Senator, and Attourney General of the US was born in a cabin that still resides on the site (although moved from it's original location). The Crittenden Cabin has been restored and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Cleveland Place was built in 1854 and the Cleveland Family lived there for thee quarters of a century. The home and 70 acre property became home for the historic Massie School (A Prep School for boys) in 1922, where it was developed into a campus. The campus then was utilized and expanded by the Kentucky Methodist Children's Home after they relocated to the property in 1931, where they remained until it was sold this year (2017) to Frontier Nursing University. Frontier Nursing University intends to restore the Cleveland Place as the centerpiece to the relocation of their main campus.
Backstory and Context
Between 1922 and 1929, the Massie School, a prep school for boys, made use of the building for a variety of functions including common space, dining, and residential accommodations for a limited number of young boys attending the school. The Massie School attained National recognition in 1926 as it achieved top ranking based on test scores. A.B. "Happy" Chandler (who also later became Governor of Kentucky) was the athletic coach for the school. Unfortunately when Prof. R. K. Massie fell sick, the school lost it's momentum, was changed to the Woodford School, and by 1930, the property was in default and auctioned by the Master Commissioner.
Yet again, because of the allure of the historic site, stately home, and growing campus of buildings, the property became a perfect fit for the Methodist Orphan Home, which chose to relocate from their previous location in Louisville. The Kentucky Methodist Children's Home remained on the property for over 80 years until striking a deal with Frontier Nursing University in 2017. Frontier Nursing University, which was begun by Mary Breckinridge as Frontier Nursing Services in 1928 determined to expand their existing campus in Hayden, KY and are in the process of renovating and restoring the existing buildings on the old Crittenden Land, including the Cleveland Place as a centerpiece of the campus.
The significance of the Cleveland Place is difficult to succinctly describe. It is a fantastic historic example of an agricultural house type that spread throughout the South during this period. Although exterior decoration is subdued, the two story central porch and portico demonstrate the influence of the Greek Revival movement sweeping through the country at the time of its construction. The home stands as a testament to the quality of construction practice in the mid 1800s in that it has been heavily used for over 160 years, and continues to inspire it's newest owners to restore and continue its use long into the future.
In many ways, that is one of the most surprising, but yet remarkable traits of the home. The layout of the space and quality of the construction has enabled the building to adapt to a host of needs and occupants in ways most homes are incapable of. And although recent neglect has left the building in perhaps its worst shape in many years, Frontier Nursing University is making plans to keep it relevant for years to come.
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