A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington’s Old Seminary Square neighborhood Christmas Walk and House Tour this weekend

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Ten Victorian homes decorated for the holiday season will be open to the public for the annual Christmas Walk and house tour on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9 and 10, in Covington’s Old Seminary Square neighborhood, which radiates out from the intersection of Russell and Robbins streets.

This year’s tour (3-7 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday) will feature the homes of three people who play important roles in state and local politics.

The home of State Rep. Arnold Simpson, whose district includes much of Covington, and his wife Jo Ann, human resources director for the City, will be open for the tour.

In addition to the Simpsons’ home, another stop on 11th Street will be the residence of Covington Mayor Joe Meyer and his wife Dale, a grant writer who has helped convince a wide variety of public and private agencies to invest millions of dollars in Covington and Northern Kentucky.

At the north end of the tour is the home of City Commissioner Jordan Huizenga and his wife Lauren, an attorney who has been active in a number of community organizations.

With the exception of the Huizenga home, which is two short blocks from Russell and Robbins, all of the other homes are in a compact one-block rectangle bounded by Russell, Robbins and 11th Street and the CSX railroad tracks.

Tickets for this fundraiser for the Old Seminary Square Neighborhood Association, the parks improvement project in the neighborhood and the Children’s Law Center, which is located in Seminary Square, will be available at the Charles Fisk House at 1017 Russell Street. The Fisk House is now the office for the Sanders Law Firm, headed by attorney Robert E. Sanders.

Tickets are $20 at the Fisk House or $18 in advance by going to the website. For people who purchase online, those tickets and a tour map may be picked up on the day of the event at the Fisk House. Children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult who has purchased a ticket.

Carolers from the Covington Latin School will be roaming through the neighborhood and refreshments will be available at some of the homes.

Two of the homes on the tour are the only buildings still standing from the Western Baptist Theological Institute, which is the basis for the Old Seminary Square neighborhood name.

One of the homes is located at 1026 Russell and is known as The Sandford House, which is owned and occupied by Dan and Linda Carter. It was built in the early 1800s by Major Alfred Sandford, whose father, General Thomas Sandford, was the first Congressman to represent this region of Kentucky. He served from 1803-1807. The home was sold to the Western Baptist Theological Institute in 1835 and is the forerunner of Georgetown College in Georgetown, which is about 70 miles south of Covington.

In the late 1800s it was the home of Miss Bistrow’s Boarding and Day School for Ladies and Young Misses, an exclusive boarding school for prominent families.

The Simpson home is believed to be the faculty house for the institute. Both the interior and the exterior of the house are extraordinary and the front porch features distinctive and highly detailed ironwork that was fabricated at Covington’s Stewart Iron Works.

Two other homes on the tour are significant for a variety of reasons, including the prominence of the people who built the homes more than a century ago.

The John Todd House at 106 W. 11th St., owned by the Meyers, was built for an agent of the C&O Railroad in 1865, the year the Civil War ended. The home was purchased in 1874 by Laban J. Bradford, a tobacco merchant who served as a State Representative and on the board for the forerunner of the University of Kentucky. The home, a great example of Victorian architecture and Italianate detail, has outside dimensions of 95 feet by 30 feet and has twin 18 by 20 parlors that have 14-foot ceilings with ornate plasterwork.

The current occupants of The Harriet Albro House at 1041 Russell are Jeff and Suzanne Anderson and their son Carter, whose personal history goes back just a few years. It was built in 1874 in the Eastlake Italianate style for Harriet Albro, the widow of a Cincinnati wood merchant.
As might be expected, some of the woodwork is extraordinary and the house has been featured in The Old House Journal.

Old Seminary Square Neighborhood Association

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