Sunday, August 12, 2001

Holmes High School has roots in 'castle'

By Gene Franzen
Enquirer Contributor

        COVINGTON — Holmes High School? Who was Holmes? What is the connection between Holmes and Covington High School.

        Daniel Henry Holmes was born in Clermont County in 1816. Orphaned at age 2, he lacked any formal education.

        But at the time of his death in 1898, he was fluent in French, German and Spanish. With 700 employees, his New Orleans Department Store was the largest in the South. His obituary stated he was the richest man in Covington.

        As a youngster, Mr. Holmes worked as a clerk in a Cincinnati department store. He eventually moved to New Orleans to manage a store there. At 26, he opened his own department store on Canal Street in New Orleans. That store was recently converted into a Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

        In 1866, because of his roots and the convenience of Covington between New Orleans and New York City, Mr. Holmes built a lmansion at the current location of Holmes High School.

        “Holmesdale,” a 32-room estate house designed after a castle in Siena, Italy, was dubbed “Holmes Castle.” In 1919, Mr. Holmes' heirs sold the castle to the Covington Board of Education for $50,000, and the building was used as a cafeteria and class space for 16 years.

        In 1936, the Covington Board of Education decided to demolish the “Castle” to make room for a new administration building.

        Now and Then, a look at historic places in Northern Kentucky, appears Sundays in The Kentucky Enquirer. To suggest a feature, call 578-5555.


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