Wickland, the Home of Three Governors was designed by John Rogers, the architect of St. Joseph Cathedral. Construction began around 1825 and was completed about 1828. Local mason, James Marshall Brown executed Wickland's design while all the woodwork was done by Alexander Moore.
The first owner of Wickland, Charles Anderson Wickliffe, was born near what is today Springfield, Kentucky. Wickliffe was a lawyer, Congressman, Lieutenant Governor in 1836, and ascended to the governorship when Governor James Clark died in office in 1839 and served until the fall of 1840. He was appointed Postmaster General by President James Tyler in 1841-1845. Charles A. Wickliffe's son Robert C. Wickliffe was the last of the pre-war governors of Louisiana, serving 1856-1860. Finally, the elder Wickliffe's grandson, John Crepps Wickliffe ( J.C.W.) Beckham became governor of Kentucky after the assassination of Governor Goebel in 1900. He continued to serve after a special election until 1907.
In 1919, the Beckham heirs sold Wickland and it saw a series of various owners including moon shiners, an ironic turn of events considering J.C.W. Beckham was a staunch prohibitionist. In 1930 Wickland was sold to the S.L. Guthrie family who opened it as the Wickland Inn. It served meals and provided overnight rooms. Guthrie sold it Edward King Poor in 1935 reserving the acreage on the south side of the highway where he built Fairfield Distillery and began producing Pride of Nelson whiskey in 1936. Mr. Poor and family lived here until his widow sold it in the summer of 1942.
Luckily, Wickland once again passed into loving hands when Dr. Walter E. Wright and his wife, Katherine Grigsby formerly of Bardstown, purchased it. The Wrights furnished Wickland with additional antiques and operated a renowned antique shop specializing in early American coin silver.
In 1954, Wickland was sold to the last private owners, Robert S. and Sara Trigg. They took up residence in 1960. They continued the long standing tradition of showing the home to visitors in the summer months and for over twenty-five years Wickland was the host to the annual Kentucky Colonels Barbeque the day after Derby.
Finally in 2003, the Nelson County Fiscal Court purchased Wickland and planned for its continued operation as a place of hospitality and entertaining visitors with its beautiful architecture and charm. Since 2004 the nonprofit Friends of Wickland, Inc. has opened the home for activities. Take a tour and enjoy the intricate details of home design and construction of a bygone era and revel in the magic that is Wickland.
The exterior design is thoroughly Georgian with its perfectly balanced front facade. The front of the house faces west with a half-round entrance consisting of a double fan over the large front door. Rogers achieved Georgian balance on the garden side facade with the use of one of his design signatures; shuttered, false windows. The side entrance has a narrower, yet identical entry fan window.
The main hallways of Georgian homes were built with two purposes; ventilation and to handle large numbers of people when entertaining. The large window on the first floor landing creates a cross breeze when the front and back doors are open.
The ceiling heights are 14 1/2 feet on the first and second floors. The floors are ash in the rooms and hard pine in the hallways. The baseboard is 16 inches high. All doors in Wickland are mortise and tenon construction secured by wooden pegs.
The staircase features an unbroken continuous handrail all the way to the third floor without corner newel posts allowing the turned balusters to gracefully curve their way to the top. Since corner newel posts provide strength, Wickland's staircase employs cast metal balusters every so often to provide strength. (174 balusters)
One of Wickland's most striking interior features is the double parlor. Separated by large folding doors, each 11 feet 4 inches tall, the parlors could be closed off and used individually. The sole use was for entertaining. Most of the hardware is original to the house.
The two mantels in the double parlor are among the best mantel designs in Kentucky. John Rogers' interpretation of the Federal style swags reminiscent of Robert Adams work is very unique and is found throughout Bardstown. The full sunburst in the center and squashed, reeded columns topped with Tower of the Winds Corinthian capitals are enhanced by acanthus leaves and beading which were cast of pewter and applied with headless nails.
The library or as utilized the Wickliffes as a family parlor, was used every day. The original closed presses were opened to provide bookshelves in later years. They are opposite the false windows on the garden facade.
The family dining room is also on the garden side of the house. The outside door leading to the connecting porch and kitchen had a stippled stone step. Used every day to serve the meals, the step has been polished smooth by the shoes of hundreds of people, servants, visitors and family.
For more questions regarding Wickland, please contact our local historian and curator, Dixie Hibbs.