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County gives money to repair Holly Rood water damage

By RANDY PATRICK

Sun Reporter

The Clark County Fiscal Court agreed to give the Friends of Holly Rood $2,325 to repair water damage to the local landmark, also known as the Clark Mansion.

Debbie Barnes, accompanied by other members of the committee and Steve Justice, president of the Clark County-Winchester Heritage Commission, came before the magistrates Tuesday to appeal for help.

Barnes said the problem is that the HVAC unit malfunctioned, and as a result the women’s restroom and another area beneath where the unit sits on the second floor was damaged by water. The damage needs to be repaired, and the rooms painted, she said.

“It’s a great big ol’ house, and it’s a beast to take care of,” but the group does so inexpensively, she said.

The house on Burns Avenue near Belmont Street was built between 1812 and 1814 by James Clark, Kentucky’s 13th governor, when he was still a young lawyer in Winchester. Clark, who helped establish the Whig Party in Kentucky, was also a state legislator, circuit judge, appellate judge and congressman.

As governor, Barnes said, Clark was important for advocating taxpayer-funded education for the common people. He established public education in all Kentucky counties and created a state board of education. He had children with two wives who died before him.

The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

But at one time it came close to being demolished.

“We almost lost it once,” Barnes said, but it was saved by some concerned citizens. “We save it every day,” she added, emphasizing that maintaining the old house is a never-ending struggle.

The house gets some of its income from rental fees for events, such as weddings and receptions.

Magistrate Chris Davis, who is a liaison between the fiscal court and the heritage commission, recommended giving the group the money from the county’s Community Fund, which is money the county has from the sale of the old Rockwell International truck plant property. He said Holly Rood had been hit hard financially in the past year because the coronavirus limited the number of events.

“It is a landmark and should be protected,” he said, and it is important to deal with water damage as quickly as possible before it gets worse.

Barnes noted that the group usually gets $13,000 from the city of Winchester to pay for its insurance and utilities, but it didn’t get that this year.

The county usually contributes something from its community fund in the late summer when it awards grants to a number of organizations. Once it gave $10,000 toward a $53,000 roof project.

Barnes said the group has $26,000 saved, but it usually does a big project annually. In the past it has redone the electricity and put in handicapped accessible sidewalks and ramps.

Magistrate Robert Blanton said that he would prefer that groups apply for community fund money at the appropriate time, but since this request was an emergency and a small amount, he said, he would support it.

The members voted unanimously to allocate the money to the Friends of Holly Rood for repairs and painting.