October 5, 2010

Speaking out against historic house destruction

Letter to the editor

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — To the editor:

I read in the Sentinel that the local “powers that be” have decided to tear down what is probably the oldest and most historic house still standing in London.

The house at the corner of Second and Broad streets (now housing Tom Weatherly’s law office) is more than 100 years old and was built by Bettie Baugh Faris who, along with her husband, John ran one of London’s first and foremost mercantile establishments as far back as the 1870s or before. John Faris died from typhoid in 1884, but his wife continued the business for many years.

 I’m not sure when, after John’s death, the house was built but I know it was well before the turn of the 20th century. Mrs. Faris herself died in 1905. She had no children of her own, but raised four nieces, one of whom (Sallie Baugh who married H. V. Pennington) came to own the property at some point. This house is still in use, not an eyesore, not falling down in disrepair, but it is to be torn down and replaced with a parking lot. Once again the lack of concern for historic preservation is evident among London’s leaders.  

There is a long history to this house that cannot be gone into in this small space but it can be researched and documented from public records, I’m sure. I wish it were in my power to save this house, but it is not. I can only speak out against its destruction. I hope others will join me.

Jan Sparkman

Fort Myers, Fla.