Tuesday, March 06, 2001

Log house's fate studied

Historic home stands on proposed runway site

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        HEBRON — There used to be an outdoor kitchen in back of the house at 1517 Conner Road. But new technology may be moving in. At jet speed.

        The William A. Rouse House, a nearly 150-year-old log home being considered for the National Register of Historic Places, stands in the middle of the proposed site for the new north-south runway at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

        The house could be sold and moved, or destroyed to allow the runway to come through. The new runway would be less than a mile west of the existing north-south runway.

  The house was built in about 1855 on a 100-acre plot described as “on the headwaters of Elijah Creek” in central Boone County. It is located at what is now 1517 Conner Road near Hebron.
  On Jan. 12, 1855, Mr. Rouse paid $4,500 for the land and is thought to have built the home shortly thereafter. It would cost at least $200,000 to build such a home today, architectural historian Margo Warminski said.
  From 1950 to 2000, the Charles Martin family owned the house before selling it to the airport.
  Sources: Boone County Planning Commission; E&A Environment and Architecture, Florence.
        “It is a really good ex ample of a double pen log house,” said Margo Warminski, an architectural historian with E&A, a cultural resources management firm in Florence. It's conducting an environmental impact study on the house for the airport, which owns it.

        Ms. Warminski said the double pen was a common type of log house in 19th-century Boone County. There were two side-by-side doors, two large rooms on the first floor and sleeping rooms on the second floor, plus several outbuildings.

        Jeff Tingle, E&A's vice president and senior ecologist, said the home's fate won't be known until the environmental impact study is completed later this year.

        Mr. Tingle said the house is in good shape. “There are not as many log structures in Boone County because of development,” Mr. Tingle said.

        And the outdoor kitchen? Another tradition Mr. Rouse brought from Virginia.

        “It was a common practice in the South to have a kitchen outside the house,” Ms. Warminski said. “It kept the house cooler.”

        Matt Becker, a rural/open space planner with the Boone County Planning Commission in Burlington, said the Rouse family were descendants of the Germanna Colony, a group that arrived in Virginia from England in the early 1700s.

        “I think the Germanna Colony was basically refugees from England who came to Virginia seeking religious freedom,” Mr. Becker said.

        And Mr. Rouse apparently was typical of many who moved to Kentucky in the mid-19th century.

        According to planning commission deed research, Joel and Catherine Garnett sold Mr. Rouse a 100-acre tract in 1855 for $4,500. The house was presumably built shortly thereafter.

        Mr. Rouse eventually expanded his holdings to 168 acres worth $15,000.

        Ms. Warminski said the logs can't be seen because a subsequent owner put on wood siding.

        Once it is determined whether the house meets National Register standards, one of two things could happen. The airport can either have the house torn down, or sell it to someone who would then take it apart and move it.

        Ms. Warminski said the airport should not have any trouble finding a buyer. “This has been done quite a bit in the county. ... There is a demand for old buildings.”

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