The location was perfect. A log cabin with a dog trot and sleeping loft could sit near enough to the creek where you didn’t have to haul water too far; or in the evening, you could just sit a spell and watch the water ripple over the rocks. The Elkhorn Creek circled every side of the acreage making the land suitable for farming with clearing and hard work. And, the smallmouth bass practically jump on the lines.
These may have been some of the thoughts of W. Gaines, the man who is believed to have built his home around 1850 on what is now Creekside Farm owned by the Clark family. When Daniel Clark bought the farm on March 2, 1896, he paid what was considered a goodly sum of $4,500. While only a few miles from downtown Frankfort in Peaks Mill, the farm on Indian Gap Road seems to be of a slower, simpler time.
If these walls could talk
Creekside Farm has been in the Clark family for 127 years and has recently been designated as a Kentucky Historic Farm by the Kentucky Heritage Council, the State Historic Preservation Office. A farm must have at least 40 acres, be owned by the same family for at least 100 years, be an active farm and contain a structure more than 50 years old.
Marilyn Clark and her late husband, Lowell Clark, bought the house — which had been built on the site of the original log cabin — and the farm in 1965. Lowell is the grandson of Daniel Clark.
“The house hadn’t been taken care of for a few years, but I saw the beauty in it,” Marilyn remarked. “We lived with Lowell’s mother while we did the renovations. Lowell was the youngest of eight and grew up down the road in a house across from what is now the fish hatchery.”
From the outside, the house has no sign of having been a log cabin. It is now a four-bedroom, three-bath home with today’s modern conveniences. Upon entering the grand two-story foyer there is a dining room to the right with cheery yellow and white striped wallpaper, and to the left is a sitting room that Marilyn calls “the comfortable room.” Those logs have sheltered pioneers making a life farming Peaks Mill land even before the Civil War.
Now, two of the walls in the comfortable room are exposed logs of the original cabin. “Actually, all of the walls in the front of the house are log. When we took the old siding off of the front of the house, we discovered the logs,” Marilyn said. “So, we came inside and started removing plaster, wallpaper and whitewash off of some of the walls. It took several months to get it all off, but we did it!”
Waiting for the dream
The Clarks decided they were ready for a major remodel project eight to 10 years ago. They upgraded the kitchen and built a large addition with a great room and a full bathroom. “It was my dream,” Marilyn said, smiling. “We saved money until we could afford it … and then we just did it! I wanted a big room for the family.” Charles Porter was the architect of the project.
Marilyn got her big room — a gathering room located off of the kitchen with a wall of shelves that holds some of Lowell’s model trains and a hutch displaying her collection of Blue Willow pattern China pieces. Several Paul Sawyier prints grace the walls. “I used to go to auctions and antique stores looking for Blue Willow and other interesting finds. It was just fun,” Marilyn remarked.
“It is thought that Paul Sawyier used to come out and paint by the creek. Nanny would tell the story that Paul Sawyier would give her paintings and she would give him something to eat in return,” Marilyn explained.
A large sliding door leads to a covered porch surrounded by beautiful plantings and a picturesque view of the main branch of Elkhorn Creek. “This is my very favorite place in the house,” Marilyn remarked. “I wanted a nice porch to sit and watch Elkhorn Creek.” From the porch, she can also see the barn quilt given to her for Christmas by her children. “Melissa Drury out of Lawrenceburg painted it — she does them on aluminum. I always wanted one and I think this one is really pretty.”
It’s a family affair
Lowell and Marilyn raised their three children — Mike, Sally and Tom — at Creekside Farm. Even though they both worked in various positions in state government, they always had a working farm, too. “Lowell worked as the Commissioner of Personnel under Gov. Brereton Jones and retired from state government,” Marilyn remarked. “That didn’t stop him from farming this land. He’d come home, change his clothes and go to work on the farm.”
As well as running the household, Marilyn went to work in state government for the Speaker of the House’s office. The photos on the gallery wall tell their family story of weddings and anniversaries, grandchildren and accomplishments. There is also a fascinating enlarged aerial view photo of Creekside Farm showing the house, fields and Elkhorn Creek winding through the farm.
Creekside Farm has been a special gathering place for family throughout the years. Marilyn’s granddaughter Emily, who attends Eastern Kentucky University, lives with her grandmother when she’s not at college. In June, another of Marilyn’s granddaughters, Sheridan, got married beside Elkhorn Creek, where long ago her ancestors lived, worked and played.
“Sheridan lives in Texas, but has always loved coming to the farm. It (was) a sweet wedding. We (had) a tent for the 80 guests set up on the lawn between the side porch and the creek,” Marilyn commented. “She is the great-great-granddaughter of the original owner.”