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Historic Perry County ‘Mother Goose’ house honking again, to open in October as bed and breakfast

Mother Goose house historical photo with gas pumps (Photo provided)

By Ron Daley
Special to NKyTribune

It all began with Ollie Stacy cooking a goose for Thanksgiving in 1935 in the outskirts of Hazard.

Ollie peeled off the meat and laid the skeleton on the table where her husband George was having his coffee. George, an L and N Railroad employee, who was always coming up with interesting thoughts, told Ollie he was going to build their house in the shape of a goose. He had been planning on building a house like a Maytag wringer-type washing machine. He had a good friend down the road selling Maytags.

Sherry Spradlin in front of the Mother Goose which she is bringing alive again as a bed and breakfast. (Photo by Ron Daley)

George took the skeleton to Home Lumber and met with an architect to begin the innovative project. The first portion of the project was the egg finished in 1937 in which he opened a store and added gas pumps. He and Ollie lived in a small shack on the property until The Goose was completed in 1940.

The Goose became a community effort with many residents building the structure using sandstone from near the adjacent North Fork of the Kentucky River along Route 476 in Wabaco. Ollie’s large family and friends sent stones from 48 states after hearing about the ambitious project.

Since then the Goose has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2015, HDTV’s Outrageous Homes, Car and Driver magazines, and state and national media outlets.

Sherry Spradlin is bringing the Goose back to life as a bed and breakfast working with the family and the Perry County Fiscal Court. Spradlin has operated the Harmony House Bed and Breakfast for seven years in Hazard and is an active community volunteer. “I believe the Goose will enhance our tourism efforts here while we are preserving an important and unusual landmark,” Spradlin says.

George Stacy originator of the Mother Goose House (Photo courtesy of the Stacy family)

The Stacy’s great-niece Alice McIntosh is happy to see the building which part of her family heritage is being revitalized. “The Stacys put the Goose into a trust to ensure it remained in the family,” she explains. “The county is leasing the property and having Sherry manage the project.”

“I want it to be alive again. The house has been a very important part of the community,” McIntosh adds. “The store offered the first soft-serve ice cream around here in the Mother Goose Food Market. Everyone wanted to see the house and the six monkeys and the bear he added to get more attention. George got the idea of adding monkeys because the county courthouse had monkeys in age out front.”

McIntosh says George considered every detail of the unusual house including its eight egg-shaped windows. The roof is ribbed to create a feathered texture like that of a goose. The head of the goose is about 15 feet high and has eyes made from headlights. The home’s rustic exterior is made of sandstone from creeks from all over the area, hauled to the site by neighbors and George’s three sons. George died in 1954.

Kristy Wooten wrote in one local newspaper account, “My grandpa was the one who helped collect the rocks for the Mother Goose. He said it took 10 days to find all the rocks they needed. They found most of them in the river and had to swim to the bottom of it to get the rocks.”

Ollie Stacy with the bear and monkeys in background (photo courtesy of the Stacy family)

While the family has taken pride in the home it had its challenges while living there. Ollie, a Clay County native who met George when she came to Hazard for nurse’s training was quoted in a local news account saying all the tourists made it difficult at times. “They’d come and I had to go out and run the kids off the roof. The parents told the kids to pose on the roof for pictures. Sometimes I would let them go through the house.” Ollie passed away in 1997.

The large, green goose on top overs an attic. It is a five-room house on one floor. The bottom area has been used for storage, but George created it for a produce market.

Spradlin is refurbishing the house but not making any changes to its structure. “We want to keep the Goose the way George made it; thus, I will bring the food from Harmony for the guests instead of doing that major renovation. Also, since there is just one bathroom, we will rent out all three rooms to the one group which is interested instead of adding other bathrooms.”

Spradlin is planning the Mother Goose opening in October. Announcements about the facility and use will be made on www.harmonyhousebedandbreakfast.net.

Ron Daley, lives in Lexington and works as the strategic partner lead for the Kentucky Valley Cooperative (KVEC), a consortium of 23 school districts in Eastern Kentucky.

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