History of Liberty Hall Historic
history of Liberty Hall Historic Site
can be traced back to 1786, when General James Wilkinson purchased
much of the land that is downtown Frankfort. Wilkinson laid out the
town of Frankfort, naming the streets for friends, famous people and places,
and even himself. Some of Wilkinson's original streets, Wilkinson, Wapping, and Montgomery (now Main) form the boundaries of three of
the four sides of Liberty Hall Historic Site. Wilkinson ultimately sold
the tract that includes Liberty Hall to Frankfort resident
Andrew Holmes. In 1796,
Holmes sold the four acres to Senator John Brown.
began construction of a home on the property shortly after
purchasing it, though he was often away in Philadelphia. The
architect of Liberty Hall is unknown (John himself may have done
some of the design) but it is clear that someone with great skill
and understanding designed the Federal style home. One of the
earliest brick homes in Frankfort, the bricks were fired locally
from clay dug from the cellar. The construction continued until 1800 when the
house was substantially complete, lacking only the glass windows,
which were added in 1804. In 1801, John
Brown moved into the home, which he named Liberty Hall, with his wife and baby son.
addition to the main house, John Brown built several dependent
structures on the property, including a kitchen and laundry,
smokehouse, a privy, stables, carriage house, and slave quarters. Eventually a set of stairs was installed from the
garden level to the river level and a boat landing was created.
Ultimately, a fence was built around the property. After this,
Liberty Hall remained substantially unchanged until
the early 1830's.
order to give his two sons equal inheritance, in 1835 John Brown
divided his property. His elder son, Mason, would inherit Liberty
Hall. For his younger son, Orlando, Brown hired Gideon Shryock,
designer of the Kentucky Capitol, to design a new house.
Constructed Greek Revival style, the Orlando Brown House was built by local
contractor Harrison Blanton. The entire project cost just
the 1870s, Brown family members sold a parcel of land between the
two houses. William Chinn built a house on the property, which was
later sold to the Sutterlin family. The Chinn-Sutterlin stood until
the 1960s, when it was razed to reconnect the Liberty Hall and
Orlando Brown properties. Three more lots, on the Wapping Street
side of the Orlando Brown property, were sold near the turn of the
20th century. These properties remain privately owned and separate
from the Liberty Hall Historic Site property.
1934, Mary Mason Scott, John Brown's great granddaughter and the
last resident of Liberty Hall, passed away leaving Liberty Hall
to her brother, John Matthew Scott. He sold Liberty Hall to a group of concerned citizens
who had formed Liberty Hall,
Inc., a nonprofit organization. They opened the house as a museum
in 1937. The Orlando Brown House was occupied until 1955. At her
death, Orlando Brown's
last remaining descendant, Anne Hord Brown left the house to the
National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth
of Kentucky (NSCDA-KY). The Dames opened the house as a museum in 1955.
Liberty Hall and the Orlando Brown House are operated together by
Hall Historic Site
Frankfort, KY 40601
or toll-free 888-516-5101