My Old Kentucky Home is one of the most iconic 19th-century homes in the United States.
The mansion began as a one-story simple brick farm house set on 300 acres. The land was purchased using money given to John and his wife Ann, the daughter of Cincinnati founder Captain William Lytle, in celebration of their wedding. In 1812, the house was enlarged with a grand three-story addition in the Federal style, a choice that expressed the family's commitment to an independent fledgling democratic nation.
Federal Hill was originally a modest one-story dwelling with no cellar constructed circa 1800. The interior consists of two rooms in a "saddle-bag" floor plan, a large kitchen, and an atypical attached smokehouse.
CONSTRUCTING THE MANSION
In 1812, John Rowan commissioned the construction of a three-story addition to Federal Hill's original farm dwelling. The original house became the rear ell of the mansion, creating a unique floor plan.
THE FEDERAL STYLE
The Federal-style borrows from the style elements of ancient Rome and Pompeii. This building style was popular due to a desire to associate United States architecture with the architecture of ancient political democracies.
A GREAT FIRE
In 1843, a fire caused by a lighting strike to the mansion's roof ignited a fire that destroyed the third floor and the mansion's stairwell. The mansion's third floor was rebuilt according to its original design.
The mansion did not experience a comprehensive renovation of its interior, but wall treatments, portieres, curtains, and furniture were added to "Victorianize" the interior.
The Rowan family made few changes to Federal Hill, however, a restoration was needed when the mansion became an historic site in 1923. The interiors were restored to their 1850's appearance.