Living in the Past

Jonathan Wright - [email protected]

TOLLESBORO — Cabin Creek Road, often regarded for its covered bridge of the same name, has been the site of a restoration project to rebuild many of the historical buildings nearby.

Guy Mead, owner of the property, set out to turn the nearly 150-year-old house built on the land from disrepair, into a rehabilitated home.

Mead and his wife, Carrie Cox, are from the Cincinnati area, and he said he always wanted to own property in Eastern Kentucky. Cox worked in last year’s election, Mead said, and after travelling through most of the eastern counties, she took a liking to Lewis County. In looking for a location, Mead also preferred a place close to Maysville, calling it a nice town. With Cabin Creek Road located in Lewis County and only 9 miles from downtown Maysville, Mead was glad it worked out.

“I found it online,” Mead said, referring to the Cabin Creek property. “I found a picture of the property, I saw the old house there and so I drove down one day to look at it. We thought it was sold, so we looked at other lands for six months, we came back last spring, and there it was: it was still for sale.”

While restoring the house, Mead, a self-proclaimed history buff, did some research on the property and found the place was built by a man named William Henderson. Henderson was a carpenter by trade, according to Mead, and built the house around 1870. Mead also said Henderson is believed to have also built the Cabin Creek Covered Bridge as well although, according to Mead’s findings, he believes Henderson no doubt helped build it, but was perhaps too old to do the leg work that other, younger builders could accomplish. Henderson is actually buried across the road from the house in an old cemetery long forgotten, if not for the noticeable stone that marks the carpenter’s grave.

Mead gave a tour of the house, highlighting the main features that were restored and maintained. Much of the materials of the building, from railings and woodwork masonry, are still original to the house itself. Mead added updates like heating, and improved electricity to bring the house up to date.

“I’ve saved everything original that we could,” Mead said. “My wife insisted on it.”

The house contains a couple of fireplaces, both of which have their original stonework. A previous owner had scrapped the stones and threw them into the nearby creek, Mead said, but he found them and had the stone mason he hired re-lay them as close to the original as possible.

Mead also revealed artifacts found on the property. Among them was an old schoolbook found in a chimney, eating utensils and a small vial full of a mysterious white powder. Mead said Henderson’s mother-in-law, Rachel Jack, was accused of murdering another son-in-law. Although Jack was acquitted of the charge, during the trial around 1819, according to Mead, a woman from Maysville had showed up to testify against Jack, saying she’d sold arsenic to her.

“Here we find this little vial, it’s still got the cork in the top of it, and it was in behind a wall,” Mead said. “So I always wonder if this isn’t arsenic.”

The crew Mead hired to help restore the home nearly all live around the Cabin Creek area,and were eager to get to work on the project, he said. Trevor Highfield, who’s worked on both the masonry and carpentry of the house, has been on this project since day one. Highfield said he’s relished the time spent and experiences gained from the project. Having grown up in the area, he appreciates the effort of having local builders have a hand in rebuilding the history of the community.

”Most everybody that’s been here is local, so that’s pretty cool too that they didn’t bring people from the city down to do the work, they just found people local,” Highfield said. “The house was probably built from the community and now it’s been restored from the community.”

Construction on the house is nearing its completion, according to Mead, and he plans on restoring other historical structures on the property as well, such as a barn and a smokehouse. Mead said living on the property is like living in a park, and people come by all the time to check on the progress of the construction, along with viewing the nearby covered bridge.

Jonathan Wright

[email protected]