Historic Structures

Building Description Berry Hill Mansion - Juniper Hills, Frankfort Kentucky

The George F. Berry House located at 700 Louisville Road Frankfort, Kentucky was constructed in 1900 with a music room added in 1912. The original house design is attributed to William J. Dodd and Arthur Cobb of Louisville. The music room design is attributed to William J. Dodd and Kenneth McDonald. The 22-room, two-story stone mansion with the fa9ade oriented toward the southwest. The stone was quarried at the estate and from it the mansion walls were constructed with widths exceeding two feet. The roof is now covered with terra cotta tiles; however, information has recently surfaced indicating that the original shingles were made from cypress. The structure rests on a solid stone foundation, which provides for a large basement. Fenestration is all original to the structure and intact.

The main structure was completed in the Colonial Revival Style with additional Richardsonian Romanesque characteristics. Included among these distinct characteristics are large arches completed in heavy ashlar stone voussoirs and short thick columns that support the second floor balcony on the structure's southern elevation. The north elevation contains a long, columned piazza that is reminiscent of English country estates.

The structure's service area is connected to the house by a 25' covered colonnade. Both the colonnade and wash house are part of the original 1900 construction. This colonnade terminates at a low eave; that one-story structure is completed in stone and echoes the main house's style. This structure originally served as the servant's quarters and laundry.

The house is a central hall plan with rooms on either side. The main facade faces to the South. The central hallway was constructed with large entrances containing mahogany doors with sidelights and fanlight at both front and rear. These appointments still remain intact and are in good condition. The original door casings and the decorative casing associated with the staircase are still intact. The main staircase, which is to the left side of the central hall, is still present and in excellent condition. A large leaded glass Venetian window that is adorned with a floral motif crowns the staircase's main landing.

Additionally, on the central hall's left side a narrow hallway accomplished in tongue-andgroove connects the original kitchen to the rest of the structure. Contained within this hallway is a service staircase that still remains. The kitchen is in good condition and retains its historic fabric with the exception of a drop ceiling that was added during the 1980s. The dining room and butler's pantry is also located to the left of the central hall. Both of these rooms retain their original historic fabric complete with the built-in cabinets constructed in the butler's pantry. The dining room retains its original fireplace mantle as well as an alcove where the Berry's sideboard resided. A dish rail is present above that alcove.

The library resides to the right of the central hall. This room, completed in Flemish oak, is in remarkable condition. The wainscoting is intact and in excellent condition. The room retains the original fireplace mantel and built-in bookcases. The library originally contained tapestries that were hung on the walls above the oak wainscoting. Three of the original tapestries remain in that room. The drawing room is located next to the library and to the right of the central hallway. The dining room, library and drawing room can be closed from the central hall by pocket doors. The drawing room retains its original mantle and casings as well. This room was originally the music room; however, in 1912 a Gothic Revival music room was added and a small vestibule was added between the drawing room and music room.

The Gothic music room is perhaps the most impressive feature contained within the house. It is completed entirely of hand carved oak panels. Family tradition holds that 2 European wood carvers labored for over 2 years in order to complete the room. The large stone fireplace and hearth are still intact. Large leaded glass windows adorned with red juniper tree crests add light and depth to the area. Two large alcoves are present in the room and the remnants of the red velvet drape that once where used to close them still remains. Original plaster sconces with the red juniper motif are still present and in working order. The room was finished with a Hillgreen, Lane and Company cathedral organ. While the organ no longer functions, it appears to be in remarkably good condition.

The structure's second story served as the living quarters for the family. The main staircase empties onto the second floor and immediately to its right is a large sitting area. A long hallway extends the length of this floor and lends access to each of the suites. There are three large bedrooms on this floor. The two largest bedrooms are located to the left of the hall and are separated by a sitting room. Each of these bedrooms is adjoined by dressing rooms with built-in cabinets and bathrooms. The majority of the bathrooms on the second floor retain their original tile work and some retain original fixtures. To the right of the hallway is another large suite that includes a bedroom, dressing room and bathroom. On the structure's East End a sleeping porch was constructed when the music room was added in 1912. It is of octagonal shape and retains the majority of its historic fabric. The west end features a second floor servant room as well as storage spaces with built-in linen press and drawers.

The service stairs extend to the attic space. Immediately to the right of the stair landing is a large electric ventilation fan that would provide a constant breeze within the house during the hot summer months. Additionally, another servant room with bathroom was constructed within the attic space. Another unique addition to the structure was the water tank, which caught and retained rainwater for use in the house.

The first floor is open to the public for tours and the music room is utilized as a meeting and conference space for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The house has been maintained with a great deal of consideration for its historic nature. The interior furnishings and finishes are sympathetic to the early 20th Century. Additionally, several original art works and furnishings still remain in the house.

The original estate consisted of 200 acres. Included upon the original grounds and still remaining is a gazebo constructed from cedar tree posts. The original roof was probably constructed of cypress shingles to match the house's original shingles; however, asphalt shingles that mimic the original cypress shingles has replaced them. The estate retains the structure that was once used as a carriage house, and is now occupied by a state agency, it has been significantly altered and has lost its historic integrity.

Today the grounds include 37 acres that are still maintained much as they were when the Berrys inhabited the estate. The main house occupies a naturalized setting that reflects the early 20th Century desire to create "park like" settings. The approach to the mansion retains its integrity and provides for a natural and historic setting as well as an original watering trough. The surrounding grounds retain numerous Eastern Red Cedars that were present when the Berry's inhabited the estate. The rolling green lawn and naturalized setting surrounding the house's front facade greatly enhances the early 20th Century "country estate" effect.