Not many enjoy the incredible views that Jenny Parker does from the back porch of her apartment. She has a million dollar view looking out over Liberty Hall Historic Site’s 200-year-old beautifully-manicured gardens that stretch to the banks of the Kentucky River.
Jenny said she loves living in the one bedroom apartment on the second floor of the historic Orlando Brown House located at the corner of Wilkinson and Wapping streets. “I love that it is so centrally located and convenient and beautiful,” she commented. “And, I love the character and history of older homes. The Orlando Brown House definitely has that.”
Built in 1835, the Greek Revival-style house was designed for former Sen. John Brown’s son Orlando by acclaimed Lexington architect, Gideon Shryock. The cost to build the brick home was $5,000 — outlandishly expensive at the time. The house was built on property next to Liberty Hall, which John Brown built in 1796. Orlando was the second son of John and Margaretta Brown.
Touring the museum part of the house is like a trip back in time to a 19th century well-to-do family residence. It’s easy to imagine the ladies of the house passing time embroidering or playing the piano in one of the large parlors that adjoin each other. Moving through the dining room, you can almost hear the faint tinkling of crystal and pleasant conversation.
The upstairs bedrooms are furnished with many Brown family pieces. Much of the silver, china, paintings, furnishings and even the quilts on the beds belonged to the family.
Generations of Browns lived in the house until, in 1955, the granddaughters of Orlando Brown gave the house to the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Dames have maintained it as a museum and a site office since that time. They are also the landlords of the Orlando Brown and Liberty Hall apartments.
Full of light and character
Jenny’s private outside entrance leads to the back porch and the door to her apartment. Inside, visitors are greeted to reminders of past history. Original windows throughout the apartment are fashioned with wavy glass. The ceilings are high, giving the rooms a large, spacious feel. The front living area is comfortable with wide plank wood floors, beautiful molding and tall windows overlooking Wilkinson street. The opening between the living area and the bright, sunny kitchen has a transom window above.
“I love the character of this place. It’s not fancy but it has incredible light and views from every window,” Jenny said. “I knew the minute I walked in here that this is where I wanted to live,” she remarked.
Jenny moved to Frankfort two years ago and works at Good Shepherd Catholic School. “My kid brother has lived in Frankfort for 13 years,” she explained. “So, when I needed a change from my hometown in Georgia, everything just came together. I had studied P.E. and Art in college and Good Shepherd needed someone to teach both.”
Jenny said she loves Frankfort and downtown living. “I got a bike. It’s great that it’s flat riding around downtown. I enjoy walking the neighborhood, too. I feel safe,” she commented. “The only thing I don’t like are the winters. Compared to Georgia, they are just too long!”
Jenny isn’t concerned with sharing her apartment with spirits even though one of the first things people ask her about living at the Orlando Brown House is if it is haunted. “Sometimes at night I hear a noise or two but it is an old house,” she explained. “I think I’m more scared of any mice or bats that I might find. Now, when my 8-year-old niece comes over, the first thing we have to do is go look for the Gray Lady at Liberty Hall. I tell her, ‘Do you really want to find her?’”
The staff, whose offices are at the Orlando Brown House, say they have not heard of any ghosts residing on the Orlando Brown property.
While Jenny said she hasn’t experienced any ghost sightings, she admits that she may have seen an “orb of light or two” out of the corner of her eye while sitting on the couch in the living room. She chalks it up to a flash of light from a passing car or something outside. “No big deal,” she said laughing.
But, there was one time Jenny felt a presence following her in the apartment. “I’d been gone for a couple of weeks and came home on a Sunday. Everywhere that I’d walk, I’d hear footsteps behind me,” she said. “I’d turn around and, of course, no one was there. I thought ‘you don’t even want to know.’ I really think the floor was just settling.
“I have to say that I’ve never really felt scared at all living here. It’s just a wonderful place for me to be able to call home right now. It truly is a little hidden gem in downtown Frankfort.”