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Historical facelift

Butler-Turpin House
to get period carpet reproductions

Kentucky State Parks Foundation
awarded historic home $3,200

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. (May 2009) – The Kentucky State Park System is comprised of 52 state parks and one interstate park shared with Virginia. Carrollton is lucky enough to have one of them: Gen. Butler State Resort Park, where the 1859 Butler-Turpin House is about to receive an update.

Butler-Turpin House

Photo by Don Ward

The Butler-Turpin House in Gen.
Butler State Resort Park, is open to
tours during the summer season. It
also plays host to a summer concert
series that includes wine tastings.

Funding was recently provided in the amount of $3,235.50 from the Kentucky State Parks Foundation to conserve and install historic reproduction Brussels and Wilton carpets in the home. Brussels is a loop pile, Wilton a cut pile carpet.
The foundation decided this would be an appropriate use of its money because “maintaining and restoring historical items is very important to them,” said Erin Wright, volunteer coordinator for the Department of Parks. The foundation is supported through an endowment, private fundraising and donations.
Awarding of such grant money often increases public awareness of state parks and historic sites in Kentucky. “This is one of the criteria that are used to evaluate the applications,” said Wright. Other criteria include “areas such as whether the project will help connect people to state parks and fostering stewardship of state parks.”
When my Old Kentucky Home (Federal Hill) received new reproduction carpets, two large carpets were salvaged from the historic home. “Still in relatively good condition, but in need of conservation, these carpets were brought to Gen. Butler to be stored with the hope that funding would become available to conserve (clean) and install at the Butler-Turpin State Historic House,” said Evelyn Welch, Historic Site Museum Manager for the Butler-Turpin State Historic House.
Both are appropriate for the time period of the Butler-Turpin House. The Brussels carpeting will be placed in the hallway and the Wilton will be installed in the parlor, complementing the homes’ Greek Revival woodwork and family heirlooms. The home currently has area ingrain carpeting.
Depending upon the wealth of the family, ingrain carpets would have been found in other rooms of the home but that would not have been the case for the very wealthy, said Welch. In the 19th century Wilton carpets, which have a plushy, velvet look, cost double the price of Brussels carpets and would have been used in the best rooms of a home.
Floor coverings were highly prized during this Federal period and very costly. Wealthy American families had Brussels carpets in the remaining rooms of their homes. At first glance, Brussels carpets resemble tapestry carpets with the pattern showing through on the wrong side. They were manufactured for rooms with not much hard wear.
Welch said the first floor of the historic Butler-Turpin House received a new wood floor during the 1930s. “Documentation described tacks along the wall which supports (the idea) that the home had wall to wall carpeting,” Welch said. “The reproduction carpet will give the 1859 house the appropriate period look typical of the period.”
Evidence was found of carpet up to the baseboard on the staircase landing. “The Butler-Turpin family, as would be the case for any family, would have these carpets in the best rooms,” Welch said.
“These carpets were as standard to decorating then as carpet is today,” she said. The biggest difference is fewer choices and fewer companies.”
The grant from the Foundation is a matching grant. The match may be supplied in the form of funding or services (labor), said Wright. Such grants do not have to be repaid.
Welch is currently working on a funding match for much needed repairs on the Butler-Turpin House’s exterior brick steps. Anyone with masonry experience who would like to volunteer their expertise or time is encouraged to contact Welch.
The Butler-Turpin State Historic House is open for public tours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is charged.
The Kentucky State Parks Foundation awarded a total of five grants in the amount of $16,735 for state park projects. The foundation was established in 2007 as a non-profit to promote the resources of Kentucky’s 52 state parks.
The foundation’s first purchase was an officer’s sword carried in the War of 1812. It was used by Green Clay while leading his Kentucky troops. The sword stayed in the family until the 1980s, when it was purchased from a private collector.

Other park projects that received grants from the foundation include:

• John James Audubon State Park, Henderson, $5,000 to redesign and create a new main playground area.

• Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park, Burkesville, $4,500 to construct an historic interpretive one mile loop trail.

• Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, Prestonsburg, $1,500 to conserve and frame the “White squaw” drawings.

• E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park, Louisville, $2,500 to improve the Goose Creek Trail.

• For more information, visit: www.GeneralButlerLivingHistory.org.

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