Lawrence County Landmarks - Garred-Burgess House
Garred-Burgess House
On US Rt. 23, abt. 9 miles S. of Louisa

Garred House - Property Tour

Application information submitted to the National Register of Historic Places (#75000790)

The Garred-Burgess House is located on a farm on bottom land lying between the Levisa Fork which runs to the rear of the property and the hills to the north. Highway 23, which is 1,351 feet from the front of the house, divides the property [36.7 acres in 1975].

The house is two-story, of sandstone. The individual stones are of irregular size and shape, with some being extraordinarily large for such use. The front of the house had only five bays, but the openings are very widely spaced. Great masses of stone are left bare, both on either side of the central door on the front and at the ends of the main block, which have no windows at all. The low-stooped roof, lowering just over the second-story openings, is reinforced by the (later) broad one-story porch across the entire front. Low square chimneys with emphatic collars mark the endwalls, beyond which extend deep unbracketted eaves.

There is a modern enclosed porch attached to the left (northeast) side of the house and a kitchen ell to the rear. A gallery runs along the second story of the ell, which contains rooms formerly used as quarters for slaves.

There is a large central hall with a large stone fireplace-mantel in the right (south) parlor and a stone fireplace with a wood matel in the left room.

A garage lies to the right rear of the house, with a well-house in between. A smokehouse constructed of wide poplar boards put together with pegs is a few feet from the left side of the house.

Approximately 400 feet northeast of the house is a barn of mid-19th century construction. The interior is distinguished by two large continuous "sleeper " beams approximately 70-75 feet in length running on either end. Exterior boards are 28"-30" wide, of yellow poplar.

A stone burial vault is located on top of the hill across the highway from the house with the entrance, of Vermont marble, facing east. The vault has a monumental quality, surprising in such a simple structure. A very low gable facing forward over the slightly recessed inscribed plaque evokes both a primitive Doric temple-front and a barbaric sarcophagus. The facture consists of large, evenly laid stones. Plasters and entablature are just hinted at by the minimal recession of the plane around the plaque. All this mass of stone seems almost to have become embedded of its own weight in the side of the hill, facing the house and the river as a kind of permanent "memento mori".

The date of 1836 places it just in the ground-swell of the Greek Revival in Kentucky. Tradition calls it the first stone burial vault in Lawrence County and perhaps in Eastern Kentucky. It is also recorded tht the main portion of the vault was built of native stone, quarried by slaves with stone masons named Christian and Travis as overseers.

To the south of the house, 2,150 feet away, is a small brick chapel with a family cemetery between it and the highway. The north end of the building contains the entrance. The east and west sides are three-bayed with the brick arches over the windows serving as a form of hoodmold. No glass remains in the windows.

[National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form, 1975] [House and property was also represented in the Survey of Historic Sites in Kentucky, Kentucky Heritage Commission, 1971]

The Garred-Burgess House, called by a local historian "the most commodious stone house in the Sandy Valley," was built by the prosperous Garred family, typical of those eastern Kentucky settlers fortunate enough to secure in this mountainous area rich bottomland on which to locate their farm. The Garreds also serve as an example of those few more wealthy farmers in the region who owned slaves. Although never large in number, this slave owning element did serve to divide the community during the period of the Civil War.

"As early as 1789 emigrants began to come to Sandy, and settle in the valley from those [Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the Carolinas] States. They knew that mountains and hills and streams would impede their progress; it dismayed them not, for most of them had, from near or far, looked upon the craggy peaks of the Alleghany [sic], the Blue Ridge, or Cumberland Mountains." (Ely, pp. 5,6)

There was a small community of approximately 200 persons in Louisa when David Garred and his wife Jennie first arrived in the area from Monroe County, Virginia, around 1820. The population was racially mixed, as was that of the county. In 1850, the period in which Garred House was constructed, the number of slaves listed in Lawrence County was 137 compared with 6,142 whites. (Collins, p. 261)

Garreds bought property on the banks of the Levisa Fork and there built a log house where they were to raise their family. Before his death David Garred carefully chose the spot where he wished to be buried - high on a ridge overlooking his farm. The vault containing his remains and those of his wife was perhaps more difficult to assmble than his log house. Four-foot wide sections of native cut stone were transported across the creeks, hauled up the steep hillside, and put in place. The entrance, facing east, is of Vermont marble which was shipped to Kentucky from New Orleans by boat up the Mississippi, by push boat up the Big Sandy, and ox team up the hill. It was the first stone vault in the Big Sandy Valley, and could be seen two miles up and down the river - steamboat captains used it as a landmark. It is also a monument of the Greek Revival.

The stone arrived with the family name misspelled (originally spelled Garrett). Correcting the spelling would have entailed too much time, money and effort, and so the inscription was left as it was. David Garred's son Ulysees adopted the new spelling and thereafter the family went by the name of Garred.

After the death of David Garred about 1845 his sons Ulysees and David W., lived on with their mother in the log house. In time they built the stone house on or near the site of the older dwelling. (According to family tradition the extant smokehouse dtaes to the period of the log residence.) THe attractive structure, built by slave labor, was of native snadstone, brought by ox team from a quarry site one mile distant. The two Garred brothers later divided the farm and property, with Ulysees getting the stone house and surrounding lands and David W. taking the adjacent property to the south.

Ulysees Garred, according to Ely, "has been ranked as one of the foremost citizens of this section" and "a model farmer and trader" (Ely, p. 134). He was elected to the State Legislature in 1848, again served from 1873 to 1875 and "filled many other offices of note in his county, always with satisfaction to the people" (Ely, p. 134).

The stone residence built by the Garreds was later to function as a hotel and maintained a reputation during the late nineteenth century "second to no other hostelry in the valley" (Ely, p. 134).

Before the outbreak of the Civil War, David W. Garred built himself a two-story frame house close to his brother's house. Some years later, c. 1870, he donated land nearby, materials, and labor for the construction of a Methodist church. The chapel very likely suited the small congregation well, unpretentious yet dignified as it is.

Eastern Kentucky produced few stone houses. More modest dwellings of log or frme, many of which are visible today, were more common. The Garred-Burgess House is a rarity, therefore, as is the survival of the complex - barn, smokehouse, related chapel and burial vault.

Biographical References: Collins, Lewis and Richard Collins, "Collins' Historical Sketches of Kentucky", Vol. II, Louisville: John P, Morton and Co., 1874, pp. 258,261,459.

Connelley, William Elsey, and E.M. Coulter, "History of Kentucky", Vol. I, Chicago: America Historical Society, 1922, p. 1101

Photographs and information provided by: Marlitta H. Perkins