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Pillsbury Boy’s School, Washington, KY



Pillsbury Boy’s School

505 S. Court Street

Washington, KY

Maysville, KY, is unique in that it has two historic neighborhoods.  Four miles outside of the downtown historic district lies Old Washington, a 1780s frontier village.  Old Washington was incorporated in 1786 by the Virginia legislature and named after the Revolutionary War hero George Washington, who became America’s first president in 1789.  A town known in history for its many firsts, Washington was recorded in the first Federal Census taken in 1790 as having 462 inhabitants.  It had the first postal station and first waterworks system west of the Allegheny Mountains.  Simon Kenton planted the first corn in Mason County, and last but not least, Washington was the first county seat of Mason County.  Washington’s role in the settlement of the American frontier was so significant; the National Parks Service has included its entire historic district and several individual buildings in its Historic American Buildings Survey program.  Today visitors can tour buildings throughout the village that reflect the rapid growth from pioneer log cabins to sophisticated brick homes in the Federal and Georgian townhouse styles.  Along with the museums, visitors can also enjoy the unique specialty shops.  One such building is the Pillsbury Boy’s School at 505 S. Court Street.  Built c. 1812 by Dr. Basil Duke, this building was purchased by Zerelda Pillsbury with $500 who opened a boy’s school in 1865. The home has four fireplaces with original mantels, walls are three bricks thick; when the present owners restored home in 1976 they found initials of students carved into mantelpieces.  It is now a private residence.  Here many prominent Kentuckians were educated.  In 1976 it was purchased and restored by Phyllis and David Helphenstine.  Now furnished in period antiques the Pillsbury House has the distinction of being on the National Register of Historic Places.

Among the main hall’s significant details is the gold leafed pier mirror with marble topped table reaching from floor to ceiling.  It is here the hostess would check to be sure her petticoats were not showing before opening the door to receive guests.  There is a silver calling card holder and a candle stand at the base of the stairway with candles to light one’s way to bed each night.  Other appointments include oil portraits, the framed Register certificate, an original oil of the Pillsbury, wall sconce with prisms and Old Paris vases.  The wallpaper on both halls and the living room is an 1860 replica brocade.  The living room has a tea table set for tea, tilt-top card table with one of the astral lamps, rosewood fireplace screens that adjust up and down to protect the ladies face from chapping while keeping warm by the fireplace. One of the presses holds Mary Gregory cranberry glass.  All the mantles in the home are original, as are the built in presses on each side of the fireplace on both floors, and the front stairway.  The dining room’s wallpaper is also a replica of an 1860’s pattern found on the walls of Belle Meade Mansion in Virginia.   Furnishings include a c. 1700 server, sideboard with biscuit turnings, side tables, a knife box, and a tea caddy with lock (as tea was very valuable and they did not want the servants to get into it).  The kitchen originally was a separate building because they caught on fire so often.  Today’s kitchen features 1840 cabinets taken from the butler’s pantry from a home in downtown Maysville, Maysville bricks under and in back of the stove, a dry sink, pewter cupboard, several Shaker items, pewter and canton (which was taken to the White House by George Washington).  On one side of the kitchen is the Shaker bathroom.  All the Shaker items are hung on pegs for easier cleaning of floors.  To the other side of the kitchen is what would have been the maid’s room.  It too is furnished in Shaker.  The cherry back stairway was saved when the home Judge Fleming, the founder of Fleming County, was torn down. The upstairs hall has an original painting of the Pillsbury by local artist, Steve White.

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