Commonwealth Journal

Features

July 11, 2013

New Day Dawns for a Landmark Somerset Home

Somerset —

I t’s like an old tie. Keep it long enough and it    will come back in style. Such is an almost-hidden, once-magnificent brick structure that peeks from an overgrown thicket onto busy, four-lane South Main Street in what was formerly the Johnson’s Block area of Somerset. Built in 1891, the brick structure for a time is believed to have been the home of Dick Johnson, patriarch of the Johnson family from whom the block got its name.
The old house is being restored. Jake Richards said he and his partner, Jordan Boils, have begun a project to return the house as closely as possible to its original state.
“We’re putting in single pane glass windows like the house had before,” Richards said. ‘We’re going to make it look as much as possible like it did.”
Dean Littrell, owner of Divers Den and several other commercial properties, owned the old house for more than 20 years before selling it to Richards and Boils. In the past it has been used as rental property.
Vandals were a constant problem.
“I replaced the windows several times,” Littrell noted.
He said the Kentucky Department of Highways would have purchased the old house and lot when the new Monticello Street was built “... but I refused to allow it to be torn down.” 
“I wanted to give it to my church (St. Mildred) to be used for the homeless, but I found I couldn’t legally do that,” said Littrell. The city eventually condemned the structure, he noted.
The old house cuddled up to the east side of two-lane South Main Street before the four-lane highway was completed in 2005. The new road eliminated the infamous “Y” at the junction of South Main and Monticello Street. The configuration created a traffic hazard that puzzled Highway Department engineers for years. 

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