Things looking up for a mansion that was falling down

Spirit of the Bluegrass
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HARRODSBURG, KENTUCKY (WDKY)– When Kerry Paden walks into her recently-purchased home each morning, she calls out “Good morning, beautiful!”

But it takes a special eye to see the beauty in the 130-year old mansion, the potential behind the peeling plaster and the richness beyond the ruin.

Frank and Kerry Paden are certainly doing the dirty work on this ultimate do-it-yourself project. In May of 2020, they became the owners of The Mooreland House, one of the largest houses in Mercer County, known to locals as The Castle.

And get this. They bought it without ever having been inside. The bank wouldn’t let anybody in because of liability issues.

They got it at auction for just $78,101 after the property went into foreclosure, which seemed like a super bargain for a house that had once been listed at $1.1 million. But when the Padens got inside, the dream purchase looked like a nightmare. The mansion had been vacant for 15 years and was on the verge of collapse. More than 150 buckets were scattered across the floors on three levels to collect water that poured through the roof each time it rained. And swarms of termites had eaten timbers away to almost nothing.

But the couple were not deterred. They’ve restored old houses before, although nothing on this scale.

Frank said, “We’re going to save it so we don’t allow it to be taken down, That’s what we were worried about mostly.”

The Mooreland House was built in 1891 by prominent businessman and politician Daniel Lawson Moore as a gift for his second wife, a showplace with a four-story tower and more than 10,500 square feet of living space. A lot of people wanted to save it, but only the Padens decided it wasn’t too far gone.

“Every single day, we find something new that’s interesting,” Frank said. Some things good, some bad.

The Padens are doing all the work themselves, learning as they go, and document it all on a YouTube Channel called Frank and Kerry’s Adventures. It has a lot of interested subscribers.

But where do you start when everything is bad?

“We’ve been asked that question a lot,” Frank said. But Kerry said the house sort of talks to them.

“She tells us what needs to be done first.”

The initial months of work have been consumed with stabilizing the foundation, taking down crumbling stonework and pulling up rotten floorboards.

The really impressive stuff is down the road, things such as uncovering the large stained glass window behind the grand staircase, restoring fireplaces and polishing the woodwork. Frank and Kerry say this project has made their 35-year bond stronger than ever. They believe God led them to this house that didn’t seem to have a prayer.

“We’ve seen His fingerprints all the way through,” Kerry said. “It’s very rewarding to take something in such bad shape and bring her back to life.”

They haven’t allowed themselves to think about living there. They may do that or they may try to resell the house once it’s restored to grandeur. They believe that day is probably ten years down the road, but they’re determined to see the project through to the end.

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