Backstory and Context
John Caldwell Calhoun Mayo was born in Pike County, Kentucky in 1864. His family moved to Johnson County when he was five years old. He attended Kentuckian Wesleyan College to become a teacher and took an interest in geology and mineralogy. When he returned home, he taught in Van Lear, Kentucky and spent his spare time traveling around the county purchasing land. He would sell this land to outside investors and developing coal companies.
John began building the Mayo Mansion in 1905 in Paintsville, Kentucky, and finished the construction in December of 1912. He wanted to build a twenty room house, but he decided to build a mansion to compete with the mansions in the Bluegrass area of Kentucky. The total cost of the home was nearly $250,000. The ground where the home is now located was damp and needed to be filled in. The sandstone that was used for the foundation and cornerstones was mined and formed at John’s father's farm. The stones were transported by a mannually operated overhead tram. The massive stone columnns were hauled through Paint Creek on timber sleds pulled by oxen. All of the stonework was completed by Italian stonemasons from Cincinnati. There was not any electricity in Paintsville at the time, so John had originally planned to use carbide gas in order to light the mansion. However, when the mansion was almost completed, Paintsville gained electricity, so the house was electrically wired. Water was pumped from a well to a reservoir and then into the house; rain water was transferred from the gutters into the reservoir as well.
John Mayo died in May of 1914 and his wife Alice moved to Florida. In 1916, she remarried and moved to Ashland, Kentucky in 1917. She donated the land and home to the Sandy Valley Seminary and it was renamed the John C. C. Mayo College. The college closed in 1936 due to financial difficulties and the ownership of the property was transferred back to Alice. She soon sold the house and property to E. J. Evans, who was a friend and employee of John. In 1938, the city of Paintsville bought the Mayo College property and the Kentucky General Assembly created and opened the Mayo Vocational School. In 1945, Mr. Evans sold the mansion and grounds to Reverend William T. Mulloy, who was the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Covington in Kentucky.
Now, the mansion serves as Our Lady of the Mountains parochial school. The construction of the school didn’t take much time as construction began in 1908 and concluded with the first service on September 19, 1909. A woman has been seen kneeling in prayer inside the school, and some claim to have heard her whispering or chanting in prayer. Many believe this is the spirit of Alice Mayo, who died in Ashland on September 5, 1961. She was buried behind the Mayo mansion in Paintsville. Our Lady of the Mountains was opened in October, 1945. It is currently under the sponsorship of the Catholic Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky. The school is handicap accessible and is open for tours by appointment only.