Holt House: A Piece of Celebrated History

Holt HouseWhen President Lincoln needed an ally, fellow Kentuckian Joseph Holt spent the first several months of the Civil War laboring to maintain Kentucky’s loyalty to the Union. And when Lincoln needed a friend in Washington, Holt accepted the nomination to become his Judge Advocate General, where he strove tenaciously, often against strong resistance, to implement Lincoln’s wartime policies — including Emancipation. After Lincoln’s assassination, Holt accepted the responsibility for bringing those involved in the assassination conspiracy to justice.

And did you know that Holt lived right here in our region? Or that his home, Holt House, located along the Ohio River in Breckinridge County, is a celebrated piece of local history?

In fact, Breckinridge County Fiscal Court purchased the 19.5-acre property in December 2008 through a $158,000 Kentucky Lincoln Bicentennial Preservation Grant. Their vision was to restore the structure as a tourist destination for the region. Today, the “Friends of Holt House” organization is continuing to raise funds and work on the preservation and restoration of the badly deteriorated structure.

Although they’ve raised a substantial amount of money, they still have more to collect, says Susan Dyer, volunteer and Breckinridge County native. Susan has been working with various groups on the project, and has even written a book “Lincoln’s Advocate: The Life of Judge Joseph Holt” which tells the story of the Holt House, with its many mysteries and legends, while describing the huge undertaking to acquire and restore the property to its former glory.

“We’ve been given a challenge,” Dyer added. “This is the toughest time in the history of our nation for a fundraiser, but we can’t quit. This is our last chance to do this.”

The group must raise $40,000 by early fall to match a Transportation Enhancement Grant that will allow them to secure more money for restoration. The organization is holding a fundraising event Thursday, June 14 at the Breckinridge County Community Building in Hardinsburg. Featuring noted Kentucky journalist Byron Crawford as the main speaker, and live music from Greg Byrne and Mark Cannon from the group Guilderoy Byrne, the event is free and open to the public. Funds raised will be used to continue the restoration of the property. To find our more, e-mail friendsoftheholthouse@gmail.com, or call (270)756-0268.

We hope you can attend this event. It’s a great opportunity to help with preserving some important local history, and to once again make a difference in our region.

Image courtesy of http://heritage.ky.gov/partnerships/holthouse.htm


  1. Terri Hendry Sims says:

    Mildred Hendry Pile, one of the owners of the Hendry acres which surrounded the property, was an early member of the Kentucky Historical Society. As she worked in 1970 to identify and preserve the Holt Home, she was certainly instrumental in its identification and preservation. She was a retired chemistry teacher and grew up on the farm which surrounds the home. She worked tirelessly to preserve it and would be pleased to be able to see it now. This was her dream but she did not live to see it fulfilled. She loved the home, the farm, the history, and especially, Kentucky.