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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Saturday's Historic Homes Tour has houses with ties to Parrish family, which is having a reunion this weekend

Southern Equine Farm, formerly Parrish Hill Farm, has one of six homes associated with the Parrish family on the tour.
By Sarah Ladd, University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Members of the Midway Woman’s Club are preparing for their Historic Homes Tour this weekend, when they will display some of the area’s most attractive and historic houses to visitors and the community.

Most of the seven homes are in the Midway Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. All have connections to the Parrish family, which is holding a reunion in Midway this weekend.

The tour will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 2. For information, go to Eventbrite.com; the Midway Woman’s Club Facebook page; or email midwaywomansclubky@gmail.com.

Tour tickets are $20 and available online at Eventbrite; at Railroad Drug and Old-Time Soda Fountain, and May & Co. on Main Street in Midway; in Versailles at Marketplace on Main, 116 E. Main St.; and in Lexington at The Rag Peddler, 250 Walton Ave. Only cash or checks are accepted for tickets at store locations.

The Woman’s Club is also offering a Tour with Lunch ticket, which includes the homes tour and a three-course gourmet lunch at the Holly Hill Inn in Midway, another former Parrish family home that is not featured on the tour. Seating is at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. Tour with Lunch tickets are $50 each and available only on Eventbrite.

The tour is self-directed, and the homes are not handicapped accessible. On Saturday, the tour begins at Northside Elementary School, 500 Northside Drive, where tickets must be redeemed for admission booklets. In the booklets will be information on where to find a Parrish family history.

A news release from the club says all seven homes chosen for this year’s tour are important to the Parrish family, which has been in Midway for seven generations, including several current residents. The patriarch, James Ware Parrish (1815-1857), was a co-founder of the Kentucky Female Orphan School, which is now Midway University. He or his descendants occupied all six houses on the tour, and he was an early supporter of the Second Christian Church in Midway, the oldest African-American Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the nation, which is also on the tour.

Homes on the tour will be:
  • Southern Equine Farm — formerly Parrish Hill Farm, where several thoroughbreds of note were bred, including Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic
  • Pinkerton-Rouse Place — home to the president of Midway University
  • Porter House — built around 1840
  • Village View Cottage — formerly located at Parrish Hill Farm
  • Parrish Place — now Midway Small Animal Clinic
  • Parrish Homeplace — Dearborn, circa 1810, the home of patriarch James Ware Parrish; owned by Darby Dan Farm
Midway Woman's Club President Genie Graf said, “We club members are looking forward to learning about the histories of these homes, some of which might never be open to the public again. Each is at least a century old, with one having been built more than 200 years ago.”

Graf is co-chair of the tour with Amy Perry, a Parrish family descendent who wrote the histories of homes on the tour and organized the Parrish Family Reunion, which was scheduled purposely to run concurrent with tour. Perry said she and her family are excited about the tour and the reunion.

“The family is an interesting family,” she said, adding that family members from as far away as California are coming in, and she is excited to put faces with the names and stories she has heard her whole life.

Helen Roach Rentch, a Parrish family descendant and a member of the Woman’s Club, said the experience of planning the tour has been “fascinating” because they have learned more about the history of the community. “We’ve learned things about our family’s farms.” She said she is also looking forward to meeting and seeing extended family members at the family reunion.

Rentch said the family originally came from Virginia with a traveling church in 1781. “It was right after the Revolution,” she said. “Before that, there had not been religious freedom in the country.”

She said the research and work that has gone into planning the reunion and tour has made her realize how different that generation had it. “They’d been to jail, they’d lain down in the road to protest [for religious freedom].” When the family arrived, she said they spent a year in a fort to avoid Native American rampages, and finally settled in Woodford County.

Proceeds from the tour will benefit the Woman’s Club, a non-profit group dedicated to helping Midway families and the community. The club was founded in 1922 and, according to its Facebook page, “maintains a community-oriented philanthropic mission that began more than ninety-five years ago.” It sponsors an annual scholarship, and supports the local elementary school, library, university, and other projects that originate in Midway.

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