Wickland, the Home of Three Governors, is located in Bardstown, right around the corner from My Old Kentucky Home. While my daughter and I have visited Bardstown on many occasions, we had never had the opportunity to tour Wickland.
A few weeks ago, while online looking for something to do for the day, I came across Wickland. After looking at the website, I did not see any hours or tour times, so I decided to call the number for more information. A very sweet lady called me back a little bit later, and we set up a time to tour the home. It turns out, that the home is owned by the Nelson County Fiscal Court, and is used as an event space that can be rented out for weddings, showers, group meetings, etc. So, the home is not run as a historical museum, like so many homes we have toured. Instead, a tour of the home focuses on the Georgian-style architecture and the history of the families that lived there. (UPDATE: This post was originally written in November 2020. Wickland now gives regularly scheduled tours of the home.)
When my daughter and I arrived for our tour, we were welcomed by the home’s manager, Clara Fulkerson, at the wide front door. She was very friendly, extremely personable, and impressively knowledgable about the home and the families.
Wickland, as previously stated, was built in the Georgian-style between 1825 – 1828. (The woodwork within the home is all original and all but 2 floors are original too.) Charles Anderson Wickliffe, was the first owner of the home. He was a lawyer, a Congressman, and the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky in 1836. He became the Governor of Kentucky in 1839 when the then current governor, James Clark, died in office. Wickliffe served until 1840.
As the name of the home implies, two other governors also lived in the home. Clara informed us that they were all from the same family. Wickliffe’s son, Robert C. Wickliffe went on to become the governor of Louisiana from 1856 – 1860. Also, Charles A. Wickliffe’s grandson, John Crepps Wickliffe Beckham became the Governor of Kentucky after Governor Goebel was assassinated in 1900. Beckham served until 1907.
When you tour the home, you will see that the Wickliffe family was a very affluent family. From the 14 1/2 foot ceilings on the 1st and 2nd floors and the unbroken continuous handrail on the staircase, to the oversized windows and brick heated outhouse, the family spared no expense. The architectural features of this home are extremely impressive and well worth the trip.
Handing it Down
In 1919, the Beckham heirs sold the home, and from there it passed through several more families that used the home in various ways. Luckily, not too many changes were made to the home along the way, and to my knowledge it never sat in disrepair.
In 2003, the Nelson County Fiscal Court took possession of the home and it has been a place for social events ever since.
Clara, Wickland’s manager, is eager to give tours of the home. You just have to schedule the tour ahead of time, so that it does not conflict with the special occasions that take place at the home. Clara also asks for a donation to go toward the upkeep of the home. Reach out and give her a call if you are interested in a tour. I hear she has plans to “deck the halls” from top to bottom for the holidays!
UPDATE: Lyda Parker is now the manager of the home. You may reach her via email or phone; firstname.lastname@example.org / 502-331-5586. You can find them on Facebook here.
There is so much more history about the home and families, including supposed spirits, that you simply must take the time to visit the home. You won’t be disappointed!