Saturday's tour is nothing new at Canaan Land

November 30, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

When the crowds come to Canaan Land Saturday for the 13th annual Harrodsburg Historical Society's Homes Tour, Mark and Ann Fryer will take it all in stride.

The Fryers, who bought the bed and breakfast a year and a half ago, are used to hosting many overnight guests and some people who just drop by to tour the farm and feed the many animals there.

"We have school groups that come out and we have four guest rooms in the house and three in the cabin," Mark Fryer says.

The 80-acre farm boasts one of the earliest brick homes in Kentucky. The Benjamin Daniel House, where the Fryers live with their 3-month-old daughter, Kate, was built in 1795. The brick for the home, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was made from clay on the property. It still has the original ash floors and cherry mantel.


The log cabin was been reconstructed on the property after it was dismantled in Lebanon. The Philemon Waters Log House is circa 1815.

Fryer says he doesn't mind giving impromptu tours.

"I tell them the history and invite them to feed the animals or take a hike. If you're going to have a place, you've got to let people enjoy it," Fryer says.

They're just beginning to relax after a busy October, Fryer says.

"We go all month without a break. People are here every day."

Ann Fryer does the cooking for the buffet breakfasts that are served on Louisville stoneware. Before getting involved with the bed and breakfast, she and her mother had entertained the idea of opening a tea room in their hometown, Winchester.

Mark Fryer handles most of the farm chores. In addition to the sheep, which are sheared and the wool sold in a gift shop on the property, the farm features chickens, pot-bellied pigs and donkeys. Some of the animals come to the farm after they've outlived their usefulness somewhere else.

"We take retirement animals. We just got a Belgian draft horse and an Amish pulling horse," he says.

Running a farm and being new parents can be a little overwhelming, especially considering that Fryer, a former YMCA director, had never worked on a farm before moving to Mercer County from Winchester.

Fortunate to have reinforcements

With all the adjustments, the Fryers are fortunate that they have reinforcements. Ann Fryer's parents, Alan "Mac" and Elizabeth McIntosh, and Ann's brother, Philip, also live on the farm. Elizabeth McIntosh is a needlepoint finisher and stays busy doing work for 75 shops across the country.

Alan and Philip McIntosh are carpenters and have demonstrated their skills by building Philip a house on the property and fixing up the one where Alan and Elizabeth live. They also built a workshop that features Shaker and Colonial reproduction furniture. Alan McIntosh, who has an elaborate collection of planers, was finishing a tall-back Shaker stool that will be shipped to England. Alan McIntosh says he prefers to use old hand tools as much as possible in his work.

"I like going back to how they were made originally," he says.

Many guests like to stop by the shop and watch the McIntoshes work. "Some of the men when they come, they almost stay in here the whole time," Alan McIntosh says.

Fryer says that most of the guests are attracted to the farm for its location, a mile down a wagon road off U.S. 68.

"It's at the end of the road. It gives them a sense of being back 200 years ago."

Fryer also is enjoying absorbing the history of the place. When he installed a brick walkway in front of his home, he felt like he was on an architectural treasure hunt.

"You're only digging 6 inches deep and I found all kinds of pottery. It's crazy when you live on a place that's one of the earliest settlements in Kentucky. Every time you dig, you're pulling out a piece of history."

The families also attend a historic church nearby that is on the homes tour. Mount Zion Methodist Church was built in 1839 and has kept its primitive feel by not installing plumbing. Fryer says students from Asbury College preach there and the pews are filled with students.

The Fryers and McIntoshes have many plans for the farm. Philip McIntosh plans to add an orchard and they will built rustic cabins on the back of the farm. The cabins may suit some of the potential guests.

"We definitely have times we have to turn people away," Fryer says.

Whatever they manage to accomplish, Fryer says it will be a team effort.

"It takes a whole group to make a farm work," he says.

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