You Can Go Home Again

“…The way the sunlight came and went upon a certain day, the way the grass felt between bare toes, the immediacy of noon, the slamming of an iron gate…Nothing that had ever been was lost.”
– Thomas Wolfe, excerpt from 'You Can’t Go Home Again'

When people ask me where I live, I respond jokingly, “Delta Airlines, Row 2, Seat D.”  Like many of my colleagues, I live a peripatetic existence, magnified by the fact that my home base is an island thirty miles out to sea.  My occupation as an interior designer requires me to travel often.  The “getting there” isn’t always glamorous (think planes, trains, and automobiles), but the beautiful destinations make the travel hassles and often grueling, sometimes nightmarish, slog worth the effort.

Castle & Key Distillery

Recently I have been finding time to wind down in the rolling green pastures of central Kentucky.  My husband and I purchased a former thoroughbred farm in Midway as a getaway; located in the heart of the Bluegrass State, just outside the capital city of Frankfort, not far from Lexington, and east of Louisville where Rob grew up.  We were inspired to acquire the property after visiting his family several years ago for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Buffalo Trace Distillery honoring Rob’s 3x great grandfather, Colonel E. H. Taylor.  Col. Taylor is known as the father of modern bourbon and was a huge force in the modernization of bourbon distilling.  He owned several distilleries in the Frankfort area, was Mayor for a decade, instrumental in getting the Bottled-in-Bond act passed through Congress and named “The Man of 100 Suits” due to his sartorial panache.  He was even dubbed a “Master of Hospitality” by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars for his convincing proficiency as a “lavish host, genial leader, and cordial friend.”

The Springhouse at Castle & Key Distillery

Koi pond in the sunken garden at Castle & Key Distillery

The grounds at Castle & Key Distillery

His final distillery – the eponymous Old Taylor Distillery – recently underwent a major restoration and is now called Castle & Key, partly for the architecture that Colonel Taylor built in the late 1800s.  The spring house has the subtle shape of a key because the Colonel felt that the Kentucky water was the key to fine bourbon.  My oldest daughter Madeleine, Senior Designer at my firm, was commissioned to illustrate many of the buildings at Castle & Key and featured the beautiful spring house in her series for them.

Castle & Key Stationary featuring artwork by Madeleine Hay

It didn’t surprise me that Colonel Taylor, a man of great taste, would have made this lovely town his home and fought to keep it as the capital of the Kentucky when there was a push to move it west to Louisville.  This magical area of America is reminiscent of England and Ireland, from where my ancestors hail. Like the Emerald Isle across the pond, acres of beautiful farmland dotted with cattle and sheep unfold and decades old stone walls outline the narrow country roads.  The limestone-rich soil in Kentucky is responsible for the making of many great racehorses and equally delicious bourbons.  For us it presented the opportunity to renovate and restore an antique farmhouse, cultivate the rich land, raise livestock and chickens, and invest in a city that is on the verge of a renaissance.  Fueled by the renewed interest in “brown water” and an almost religious devotion to the Bourbon Trail, Kentucky finds itself burgeoning with excitement and new growth.

Our first two heifers, Destiny & Fortune, grazing on our farmland

The design phase of Limewater Bistro

Concurrent to getting the farm up and running, we are collaborating with our younger daughter and her fiancé on the design of their restaurant, Limewater Bistro, slated to open later this spring.  The restaurant is situated on the banks of the Kentucky River just a few paces from Buffalo Trace in the historic Glen Willis House, which is the oldest property in Frankfort.  Kentucky has afforded Isabelle and Axl the opportunity to make their dream of opening their own restaurant a reality, like it has Rob’s dream of owning a farm.  It has given my family a new place of discovery, and me a place of respite.  In the words of Thomas Wolfe, “Peace fell upon her spirit. Strong comfort and assurance bathed her whole being. Life was so solid and splendid, and so good.”   Who said you can’t go home again?

The entrance to Limewater Bistro

A view of Buffalo Trace Distillery and the Kentucky river from the grounds at Limewater Bistro

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