Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 4, 2012

2 Greenup County ‘gems’ to be on display Saturday

Buildings decorated for holiday season, educational tours

Carrie Stambaugh
For The Independent

Wurtland — Celebrate the season and get acquainted with two often overlooked resources in Greenup County.  

Christmas open houses will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at the McConnell House and the University of Kentucky Greenup County Cooperative Extension Service. The buildings, constructed more than 175 years apart, are located a short walk apart just off U.S. 23 at the intersection of the Industrial Parkway.  

Both buildings have been decorated for the holiday season and will offer festivities and tours to guests while educating them on the services they offer.

“Both the McConnell House and our neighbor, the Cooperative Extension Office, are two undiscovered gems in Greenup County,” said Bud Matheny, president of the Heritage, Arts, Science and Tourism Center, the organization that oversees the historic McConnell property.

“HATSC offers educational tours of the house. It is a beautiful venue for special events,” he said. “The extension office is a great resource of practical information and help for the residents of the county. We hope these open houses will educate folks to what we have to offer.”

Extension service staff assistant Gail Rice said it is the first time the office has hosted a holiday open house. It will feature a nutcracker display, music and refreshments, including German springerle cookies. Extension agents will also be on hand providing their expertise on a range of topics, from picking the perfect Christmas tree to caring for Poinsettias, while the Greenup Homemakers Club will be there sharing free recipes for Christmas cookies.

A short distance away, the McConnell House will also be offering a slate of entertainment to visitors.

“The house is magnificent, with four beautifully decorated trees and festive decorations in every room,” said Matheny. “We will have carolers on the porch and a greeter at the door dressed in Victorian attire. Santa will also be there for the young visitors.”

Refreshments will include cookies and wassail, a traditional mulled hot drink. The musical entertainment at both locations is being arranged by the extension service’s Fine Arts agent Ann Stephens.  

Free tours of the McConnell House, a classic central hall, two-story house, was built in 1834 by John McConnell, will also be given.

A visit to these two structures will give guests a view of two very different types of building technology, said organizers. When the McConnell House was constructed it was dependent on coal and wood for heat and oil and candles for lighting. At one time, the house maintained a windmill used to pump water into the home. Although electricity and running water have been installed, its historic charm remains intact.

By contrast, the extension building is a modern structure, with the latest systems and amenities. The building has many features that make it a “green building.” The neighboring structures provide a fascinating case study in old and new construction, said Jennifer Lynd, a spokeswoman for the HATSC.

The holiday open houses are not the first collaboration between the HATSC and the extension service. Recently a row of trees, purchased by the HATSC, was planted on extension property behind the McConnell House to create a natural hedge between it and the Dupont plant behind it, Lynd said.

In addition, the agencies are working together to better link their properties. A walking track the extension service recently received a federal grant for will be built in the coming months, and plans are in the works to design it so it can serve both agencies.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.