Since moving to Georgetown, I couldn’t help but notice a large house – mansion really – that set back off Frankfort Road. Not much into history or architecture, I normally wouldn’t think much of this house. There was just something about it – something that called me to it, so I just had to check it out. Upon further review, and a stop into the Tourism office, I found out this was Ward Hall.
Ward Hall Architecture
Ward Hall is a beautiful three-story Greek Revival Villa that was the summer home to Junius and Matilda Ward. From the road, you can see it standing in all of its grandeur. When you come up the drive, it’s even more impressive – standing so stately on the grounds.
Ward Hall was commissioned in approximately 1857. The home was to become Junius’ second grand residence and sit on 500 acres on the Georgetown-Frankfort Pike. It was built at a cost of $50,000 in gold.
Ward Hall is described as, “the most imposing Greek rural residence in Kentucky.” The current grounds include spring-fed streams and ponds, a winding carriageway leading up to the house as well as giant oaks, maples and spruce trees. Ruins on the property include a former Smoke House, Slave Quarters and a timber-framed Carriage House and Stables.
Tours are given by docents who sometimes dress in period costumes. On the day we visited, Ron Bryant was our docent and he is a wonderful storyteller. Even the younger kids on our tour were mesmerized by his funny stories and anecdotes.
Upon entering you can’t help but notice the tall ceilings and wide hallway. The hall is a whopping fourteen-feet wide and extends from the front of the home all the way through to the back. The tour starts here with a history lesson about Sallie Ward, a noted society belle. The first floor consists of a reception suite, double parlors and dining room as well as the library and family parlor. You’ll feel as if you have stepped back in time and can hear the walls talking, telling you the story of this grand mansion and the family that lived within it.
The grand staircase leads you to the second story which is eleven feet six inches tall. The four corner bedrooms would have anyone drooling with their size and exquisite furniture. No closets back in the day when this villa was built, so you get the chance to see the oversized wardrobes. An additional room on this floor was for the servants and was accessed by the rear staircase. The large windows at each end of the home flood the hall, which doubled as a ball room, with light.
Continuing up the grand staircase, you see the square landing and the trunk rooms of the attic. I have to say, my fear of heights and weak stomach kept be from going up to the attic, but my brother got some amazing shots of it.
Descending the stairs back to the main level, you now make your way to the basement. I have to say, I expected it to be musty and dark as well as a bit grim. It was actually inviting in a rustic sort of way and full of trinkets and treasures. The basement was the working hub of the house with the kitchen, laundry area, wine room and other various work and living quarters for the servants.
I was quite impressed and believe a second visit will be in order as I was so overwhelmed by the magnitude of what I was seeing that I just could not take it all in. Who knows, maybe next time I’ll make it to the attic.
While visiting, consider making a donation to the restoration fund. To bring Ward Hall back to it’s grandeur of the days in which it was at it’s finest will take somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million. Give what you can, even if it’s $5 or $10. You’ll be glad you did.
Have you been to Ward Hall? Tell us about your experience in the comments below. Have you toured another historic home in Kentucky that you enjoyed? We’d love to hear your recommendations.
1782 Frankfort Rd
Georgetown, Kentucky 40324
For more information on the estate, donate to the preservation foundation or find about tours at Ward Hall, visit our
attraction information page.
For more information about Georgetown, visit our
area information page.