An old home on Highland Avenue in Washington Court House — currently existing on a portion of the site for the new Sonic restaurant — will be moved to preserve its place in Fayette County history.
North Folk Holdings took ownership March 6 of a 1.33-acre site at 403 W. Court St. — including the historical home property — that will be developed into the new Sonic drive-in restaurant. North Folk Holdings operates 35 Sonic drive-ins, primarily in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, said Jake Stauffer, a partner at North Folk Holdings, Inc., in a phone interview earlier this year with the Record-Herald.
On Wednesday, crews with Mike Bowen, of Cornerstone Remodeling, could be seen on the property of the old home preparing and moving a porch from the back of the house. Emma White — a local who commissioned the house to be moved — spoke about the project on Wednesday and what she plans to do with her new home.
“We contacted the developers and they gave the names to us (on who to contact about the house),” White said. “We asked them what their plans were with the house and they said they planned to level it. Of course it is listed on the historical preservation site, and Paul LaRue lived in the house up to now, but it is called the Robinson-Pavey house. Mark Bryant sold me two-and-a-half acres out at 1733 State Route 41 Southwest. We closed on it (Wednesday) morning and that is where the house is going to be moved to.”
The home was featured in the Friday, Aug. 25, 1978 edition of the Record-Herald where author Dr. Allen D. Griffiths detailed the history of the house, dating back to the beginning of its construction in 1848. The first owner, John H. Robinson — born in New York in 1821 — continually built onto the “Gothic Revival” style home until 1860 and, Griffiths wrote in his article, that the home appeared to be the oldest Gothic Revival house in the county.
“The Gothic Revival style was popularized by A.J. Downings in 1842, so the fact that a house of this style was built in Washington C.H. so early makes it unusual,” Griffiths wrote. “As a rule, styles which were popular in the east, took many years, even decades, to move as far west as Ohio.”
According to Griffiths, Robinson sold his home to Madison Pavey, a local attorney, and enlisted in the Union Army with the rank of captain following the decline of the family spinning and weaving factory at the hand of the up-and-coming railroad system, which made access to inexpensive imported clothes easier. Robinson later caught a fever and died during the Civil War in October of 1862.
Pavey, in partnership with Thomas A. Claypoole, opened a bank on the south side of Court Street in 1867 called the Bank of Fayette. He was considered very flamboyant and could be seen daily walking to his office in formal clothing, silk top hat and cane.
“Looking at today’s open-collared shirts and casual manner, it is difficult to conceive of a time when such strict codes governed dress and behavior,” Griffiths wrote.
Pavey eventually sold his interests of the bank to Aaron C. Johnson in 1871, and returned to practicing law. While the home was owned by Pavey, it appeared to have gone through two remodels after its initial completion in 1860, according to Griffiths.
The first, in 1872, changed the stairway and added the northwest and southwest porches. The original staircase undoubtedly was very plain, Griffiths wrote, but Pavey apparently wanted a stair which was more modern to match his stylish lifestyle.
“In 1883, a similar thing happened only this time it was the fireplaces and woodwork which had to go,” Griffiths wrote. “The replacements were very stylish, high Victorian mantles, doors and woodwork, but only that on the main floor was changed. One very ornate marble mantle in the main parlor still remains.”
White said on Wednesday that she really loves history, a driving factor in her decision to make the costly move.
“I just love history and trying to preserve historical homes,” White said. “I love anything worth saving that has a lot of value to people, young and old. A lot of people have emailed me and said that is their Gingerbread house, so the Gingerbread house is going to be saved. It takes a lot of money, but I decided to do it and that is how we got here. I think it is going to be restored to an old Kentucky home. I am going to put a couple horses out there and a fence for them on one side and a stone wall down to the front. So she is going to be quite grand when she is done.”
Stay with the Record-Herald for more updates on the new Sonic restaurant coming to Washington Court House.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy