A decade at McClure-Barbee House

November 03, 2003


A lot of sharing occurs with the organizations housed at the historic McClure-Barbee House, but they like it that way. They're one big, happy family since they moved into the 1852 home at 304 S. Fourth St. 10 years ago.

Those who call the Greek Revival style building home are the Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce, the Heart of Danville, the Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Community Development Council and the Boyle County Industrial Foundation.

Kay Berggren, who has been executive director of the Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau for 12 years, remembers the sad condition of the home before $230,000 was raised for renovations.


"In the beginning, it was pretty horrible. There was a hole in the ceiling and the water had come in. The floors and ceiling were molding."

Despite the damage, the home listed in the National Register of Historic Places and built by architect Robert Russel for the Samuel Barbee family, had potential, Berggren says.

"You kind of looked around and you knew there were so many beautiful original gems that were here."

The idea for housing all the organizations in the house came from the late Nancy Caudill, who was a Danville city commissioner and Realtor. Even when the fund-raising fell short of its $300,000 goal, Caudill did not give up, Berggren says.

"Without Nancy Caudill's leadership at that point, I'm not sure this house would have been saved. She's the one who came up with the idea of housing these organizations here and she's the one who made it happen."

Yvonne Morley, who was director of the Heart of Danville when the project began, agreed about the importance of Caudill's devotion.

"She worked tirelessly for years," said Morley, who now is executive assistant to the president at Centre College.

Berggren also credits Emily Clark for overseeing the day-to-day construction work. Clark and Carolyn Strauss saw all the window treatments and the colors as they may have been back in 1852. Betty Hensley and others oversaw the landscaping.

Berggren says the house that was home to the McClure family for almost 100 years, now is a showplace. Many who have lived in the home have contributed to Kentucky's heritage. Stephen L. Yerkes was president of Danville Theological Seminary and George McClure was a professor at the Kentucky School for the Deaf and Dr. George McClure was a physician. It is one of about a dozen houses designed by Robert Russel, a student of the state's most famous architect Gideon Shyrock, that remain.

A meeting room is available to the community and the house is open for tours during the week, Berggren says.

"Visitors will stop in and say, 'I remember when we visited the McClures' daughter or we slept in this bedroom.'"

Not only have the organizations benefited from being under the same roof, but it's a more efficient use of taxpayer money.

"We have one fax machine for five businesses and one copy machine for five businesses. When my support staff is on vacation, support staff from the other agencies can help answer phones and greet visitors," Berggren says.

The house came to these organizations after Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center bought it from Centre College in 1989. The hospital owns the land and McClure-Barbee House Foundation owns the building, Berggren says. The organizations pay the utilities and the foundation is in charge of the structure's maintenance needs. The foundation still accepts donations to cover these expenses.

"We still need funds to preserve this historic building."

Berggren says others involved with similar organizations from across the state want to follow suit.

"Just last month, we had another community come over and say, 'Tell us how this works.'"|None***

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