Kentucky Tag

Old Crow Distillery
On Set

Several weeks ago, while being filmed for a segment for Kentucky Life, I took the opportunity to walk around Old Crow Distillery in central Kentucky. Not much has changed with the grounds, although it appears that the property may lay dormant for the foreseeable future. I sincerely hope that the buildings will be preserved; the owners are currently looking for a buyer!

845 Monmouth Street
845 Monmouth

The corner of East 9th and Monmouth streets in historic downtown Newport, Kentucky is still sleepy. The one-story building, originally faced with white stucco and flanked by a red tile sub-roof, was home to an El Rico drugstore. Banks later occupied the building, including National City, ending with a check cashing venture. After much alterations to its appearance, including the use of polyisocyanurate foam, the corner is now vacant.


The original facade for 845 Monmouth and El Rico Drugs can be seen.

The three-story Italianate Second Empire structure immediately to the east was built prior to 1900. At one point, the upper floors was home to several tenements while ground floor was host to a dry cleaner and other sundries. Today, the upper floors are vacant while the lower level is home to Carabello Coffee.

It was apparent that the previous owner was in the process of rehabilitating the interior. Some of the plaster walls and ceiling had been removed, revealing beautiful rough-sewn timbers. Buckets of paint and tools were scattered about. New windows were installed. For whatever reason, need it be financial or else, construction did not progress very far.

On November 10, 2014, Carabello Coffee announced that they were purchasing the corner building at East 9th and Monmouth, along with an adjoining building, and expanding operations. The addition will feature more seating, a slow bar, roastery annex and a training laboratory. WorK Architecture + Design and the City of Newport is assisting in the development. Check out the before and after for what will be an amazing anchor to the Monmouth Street retail district.

845 Monmouth Street


Hazel Green Academy
Hazel Green Academy

Susan Orlean, of the New Yorker, once said that living in a rural region exposes the body and mind to marvelous things: the natural world, the “particular texture” of small-town life and the “exhilarating experience” of open space.

It’s not difficult to argue that.

Hazel Green Academy was located in a remote small town in the hills of eastern Kentucky. The private school, set amongst the hardwoods and abutting flowing pastures, was an ideal location when it opened to students in 1880. It’s purpose was to offer low tuition rates, offer a good education to the underserved and offer its students a stepping stone to college and “a higher sphere in life” and hope. Read More

Cannel City Union Church
Cannel City Union Church

"What if everything you are being told about the demise of rural living is wrong? What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail to bring all these folks who say they might want a more rural life into the fold?"
-Robin Rather, Collective Strength

While the demise of rural life in many areas is overstated, there are many areas that are in long-term decline, brought about by sustained job losses and single-focus economies. In Cannel City, Kentucky’s case, it was coal and timber. The city was founded by the Kentucky Block Cannel Coal Company in 1905 as a company town for its nearby coal mines. At its height, three coal companies provided more than 500 jobs for a town that boasted a train depot for the Ohio & Kentucky Railway, several churches, stores, hotels and banks.

Cannel City’s Union Church was a multi-denominational church that was constructed in 1905. Read More

Frenchburg Presbyterian College
A Place to Stay

Six years in a foreign state will change a person. After living in Cincinnati, Ohio and experiencing the urban life, I had to move back out to Kentucky and reestablish my roots. I packed up my belongings, sold my house and moved into an old factory in the heart of Lexington.

I had become too accustomed to the land of the Buckeyes and cornfields. Ohio was a large state to explore but it never felt like home, despite living just across the Ohio River from Kentucky. It was an amazing state to wander about in, as it boasts an amazing amount of rust belt cities and abandoned buildings. There was an endless stream of explorations.

Moving to Kentucky was a huge change on all fronts. The topography was more hilly and considerably more raw. The abandonments were more scattered and far smaller in size. Exploring anything took significantly more legwork and persistence.

For nearly a decade, I had been attempting to photograph the inside of the Frenchburg Presbyterian College in Frenchburg, Kentucky. Read More

Old Louis Hunter Distillery
Old Louis Hunter Distillery

Several years ago, while in college, I stumbled upon the Old Louis Hunter Distillery in Harrison County, Kentucky on a scenic back road drive, but owing to the weather at the time, I did not venture out of the car to take a closer glance at the abandoned industrial complex. I moved to Cincinnati shortly thereafter and forgot about the relic along the banks of the South Fork Licking River.

Several weekends ago, while photographing historic antebellum residences in the Bluegrass region of the state, I stumbled upon the abandoned industrial complex once again. The buildings, once part of the Old Louis Hunter Distillery, operated in some fashion from 1850 until 1974. Read More

Old Crow Distillery
Inside Old Crow Distillery

Revisiting an old friend several weeks ago at a whiskey bar, I was reminded of a famous Mark Twain quote.

"Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough."

Just like the old friend, I repaid another visit to Old Crow Distillery in central Kentucky with several architects. Read More