Saturday, February 9, 2013

Coy Buggy House

This is an extract from an essay by Candace Moberly, published in Heritage Highlights, v.9, no.2.

Coy Buggy House
In the vanishing number of farm-related outbuildings in Madison County, there remains one brick buggy house standing alone against a landscape certain for development. While many 19th and early 20th century outbuildings have either been destroyed or fallen into decay and disrepair, a comparative remaining handful remind us of dramatic changes wrought by 20th century technology. Hundreds pass by the “Coy Building” daily, most likely unaware of its function or its symbolic value.
I’ve literally passed this building thousands of times in my life, as my parents and grandparents have done before me and it stands like a lone sentinel against an otherwise modern setting, which is quickly yielding to residential and commercial development.
It was in fact a phone call from a neighbor that prompted my interest in the “Coy Buggy House.” My father, a lifelong resident of Madison County, received a phone call last fall from a non-native neighbor asking “What in the heck is that funky old building anyway?” My dad told him that it was his understanding that it was an old buggy house or garage and this inquiry has set me on a quest to learn more about it.
Since last fall, I’ve learned that there are only a relative handful of buggy houses that have survived in this area. This simple, sturdy two-story example butted up against a quarried limestone fence is one most urgently needing protection and the most well-known and visible among those that remain.
          Efforts to research the history of this unique structure have yielded little in the way of hard data. Known as the Nay Coy farm, this 273-acre tract lies on the very southern edge of Richmond on US 25 South in Madison County and is currently for sale by the Coy heirs. While there exist official records, deeds of conveyance and the like, they are silent concerning the Buggy House or any nearby dwelling which has never been given a local name.  This is ironic because it remains one of the most well-known structures in the county.
          Various attempts to locate “tribal elders” in the area that know anything about its history have been exercises in futility. Everyone seems to know someone that should know something about it. The oral history quest provided some comic relief along the way. In the 1950’s, the owners, known for their extreme frugality, reportedly closed up their beautiful three-story Victorian mansion in Richmond and sequestered themselves in the upstairs one room living quarters of the buggy house to save money.  To that end, you could say that it housed a commercial enterprise because the owner had a large sign by building which read, “Bulls for sale” and gave a phone number to contact. This phone number was not his own, which he was too stingy to pay for, but rather the number for the Elk’s Lodge in Richmond of which he was a member.  Presumably some loafing brother Elk would relay the message to Mr. Coy.
          Another elusive tidbit was the rumor that over thirty years ago, that a group of architecture students came from Cincinnati to examine the architecture of the Coy Buggy House. One of the current owners has confirmed that numerous architects have expressed interest in the structure over the years. However, in the end, the old landmark must document--testify for itself and its own historical and architectural worth in the absence of public records, published histories or testimonies.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Online Petition concerning the Miller Building and the Old Creamery

Here is an online petition to sign if you would like Fiscal Court to consider renovation and reuse of the Miller Building and the Old Creamery rather than demolition.

The meeting about the preservation of the Miller Building and the Old Creamery is tomorrow evening (January 22) beginng at 7 p.m.  Location is Central Bank.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Madison County Historical Society is deeply concerned about the potential demolition of the Miller Building and the Old Creamery.  Both were constructed in the early 19th century and have been Richmond landmarks on the Courthouse Square to this day.  To lose these buildings would be to lose a part of city and county history.  Both buildings deserve a new life in the 21st century through restoration work and a new purpose to enhance the culture of Madison County.

You are cordially invited by the Madison County Historical Society to attend a public meeting at the Central Bank Community Room on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss the preservation of the Miller Building and the Old Creamery.  Please help us preserve the heritage of Madison County!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Several events are taking place in October, and one of them involves our May speaker.  On Friday, October 5, at the EKU Libraries, Kathryn Engle will be making a presentation about the book she has edited, Madison's Heritage Rediscovered:  Stories from a Historic Kentucky County.  When she spoke to the Historical Society last May her book was in press; it was published later this summer.  With columns by Fred A. Engle, Jr. (Kathryn's grandfather) and Robert N. Grise, and with illustrations from EKU's Special Collections and Archives, the book is a fine treasure of information about historical Madison County.

The October 5 event begins at 4:00 p.m. in the Library Discovery Classroom, 204D, in the John Grant Crabbe Library.  In addition to Kathryn, Fred Engle and Robert Grise will be in attendance to discuss the contents of the book.  So, if you have a yen for the Madison County past, come and join Kathryn and participate in the discussion!  Afterwards, you are welcome to purchase an autographed copy of Madison's Heritage Rediscovered.

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18, 1812: Let the war begin

200 years ago today -- June, 18, 1812 -- the United States declared war on Great Britain, beginning what is now known as the War of 1812 or the "Second War of Independence."  Kentuckians eagerly joined the fight with almost 26,000 volunteers.  By war's end much Kentucky blood had been shed, especially at the humiliating defeat at the Battle of the River Raisin in January of 1813.

MCHS recently hosted speaker John Trowbridge, who is highly knowledgeable about Kentucky and the War of 1812.  His talk and the discussion that followed gave members a deeper understanding of the sacrifices made by Kentuckians in this war. The June/July issue of Kentucky Monthly includes an article by Ron Soodalter entitled, "Remembering the Raisin:  Kentucky's Role in the War of 1812."  A thoughtful essay about the war is found in June's Smithsonian. This article, by Tony Horwitz, also refers to this horrific battle in its title -- "The War of 1812:  Remember the Raisin."  Let us remember the Kentuckians who fought in this war as well as the lessons learned during this conflict.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Heritage Highlights and Membership Dues

The latest issue of Heritage Highlights is about to be published -- look for it in your mailboxes very soon!

In addition to all the wonderful articles, Heritage Highlights will contain the MCHS membership renewal form. Be sure to fill out the form and renew your dues.

Finally -- our next membership meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 19, at 7 p.m. at Central Bank. More on that meeting soon.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New programs for 2012

The Madison County Historical Society is now planning events for 2012!

We will be remembering anniversaries during this year -- the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Richmond. We will also have a program the history of education in Madison County as well as one on Madison's heritage. As always, there will be the Society's annual picnic the first weekend in August. Check the webpage for more information in the near future. Meanwhile, have a happy holiday!