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McMurdy School, Washington, KY



McMurdy School

2115 Green Street

Washington, KY

Washington, KY, was incorporated in 1786 by the Virginia Legislature and named for 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 public 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.  Frontiersmen Simon Kenton and Thomas Williams arrived in Washington in 1775, discovering the rich cane lands Kenton had been seeking during four previous trips into the Kentucky wilderness.  Ten years later, Kenton returned to the area, established his station and began recruiting families and individuals to the area.  Pioneer stations resembled military forts, with blockhouses overlooking the compound.  Homes were built in and around the stations as protection against Indian attack during the period known as the Twenty Years’ War (1775-1795).  In the winter of 1786 a small stockade, built under heavy guard, was erected in the center of Washington.

The 700-acre town of Washington was laid out in 1785 by Arthur Fox, Sr. and Baptist preacher William Wood.  Joseph Logan, the first white child born in Mason County, arrived on September 27, 1785, at McKinley’s blockhouse: Dolly Wood, the first white female born in Mason County, arrived on December 14, 1786.  The first tavern license in Mason County was issued to David Broderick in 1790.  Today, as a historic district of Maysville, the village is known as “Old Washington,” retaining its unique role and identity as Kentucky’s second largest city during the settlement of America’s frontier during the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.  The two-story red brick McMurday School and Boarding House at 2115 Green Street was originally was built in 1796 as a family home by Basil Duke, who was born in Maryland and moved to Lexington, KY, in 1791.  He married Charlotte Marshall, daughter of Thomas, Sr. and Mary Marshall.  Duke moved to Mason County in 1798 and practiced medicine in there for 30 years.  He died in 1828.  The house was later occupied by abolitionist John McClung, who was married to the sister of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston.  It became home of Robert McMurdy, an emancipationist minister, in 1840’s but was converted to a schoolhouse when McCurdy opened a school for Episcopalian girls in 1849. Local folklore says this house was the first to have wallpaper.

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