Friday, April 27, 2001

Historic town tavern burns

The Associated Press

        MAYSVILLE, Ky. — Fire destroyed the 211-year-old Brodrick's Tavern early Thursday just days before it was to reopen as a new restaurant in the historic area of the city.

        Firefighters were called to the two-story frame and brick tavern about 1 a.m. Firefighters battled for four hours to get control of the blaze. Fire Chief John David Gantley said the cause is under investigation.

[photo] Maysville firefighter Jeffy Maxey sprays water on hot spots at the scene of the fire early Thursday at Brodrick's Tavern.
(Associated Press photo)
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        Chief Gantley said he does not suspect arson but called in the state arson inspector because of the historical significance of the building. He said there is no monetary loss estimate for the building.

        The owner, Phyllis Helphenstine, bought the building some years ago at public auction and had leased it to J.T. and Mary Lee, who planned to operate a restaurant.

        Restoration was complete and the grand opening was scheduled for Saturday, Ms. Helphenstine said.

        “These people (the Lees) really could have made a go of it, and it would have been a great draw to Old Washington,” Ms. Helphenstine said. “The worst thing is, people didn't get to see how pretty it was.”

        Crystie Keenan, Mason County tourism director, said the tavern had been a landmark in the Old Washington area of shops, log cabins and historic homes.

[photo] The 211-year-old structure burned just two days before it was to reopen as a restaurant.
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        “People who were here years and years ago will call and ask, "Is the tavern open?' Everybody remembers it,” Ms. Keenan said.

        The building has changed hands several times but mostly has been used for its original purpose.

        History buff and City Commissioner Bill Boggs said the building, although not always a tavern, has always maintained the same name and has always been a main stop for travelers through the area.

        “It was a main stop-over point for travelers going inland. Those traveling to Danville or Lexington would likely have stayed there,” Mr. Boggs said. “It was probably one of the oldest structures standing in Mason County that was still being used.”


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