Keeneland Magazine

NO4 2013

Keeneland, Investing in Racing's Future since 1936.

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Paradise Maintained This exceedingly private residence was built in 1874 by a Baptist minister and farmer, William E. Freeman. It became known as "Duntreath" (or "home of the chief") during the early years of the 20th century when it was acquired by Silas B. Mason and his wife, Suzanne Burnett Mason, in 1909. They added on to the original late Georgian-style building in every direction, including two more foors. After Mason's death in 1936, the property belonged to L.R. Cooke, a local automobile dealer; it was then purchased in 1941 by James A. Alexander of Woodford County whose family retained ownership until Dudley and Marla Webb's purchase in 1996. The Alexanders called the farm "Westover," a name that is still in use today. While a summary of ownership can be merely a record of changing names, the house and its property offer fascinating histories of their own. Their appearance during early 20th century years is lovingly chronicled in Elizabeth Simpson's The Enchanted Bluegrass, a descriptive tour of important central Kentucky homes, which was published in 1938. Noting the exquisite architectural detail throughout the house, Simpson credits Suzanne Mason with transforming the original structure from its more functional beginnings into a gracious and ex- ... the house and its property offer fascinating histories of their own. pansive private retreat. Mrs. Mason enlisted the help of Charles O. Cornelius, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's curator of the Early American wing, who, according to Simpson, was also considered an eminent architect and antiquarian. The combination of the two tastemakers produced a formidable alliance. From England they imported the house's 18th-century Georgian stairway, notable for its mahogany handrail inlaid with ebony and satinwood. Cornelius also advised on the interior furnishings, which included intricately carved marble freplaces and mantels, lavish woodwork, and chandeliers from France. Handwrought 18th-century iron grilles embellished the brick exterior, and everywhere were choice plantings and magnifcent trees. The property's setting itself offered vistas well beyond what is now New Circle Road. There was no Cardinal Valley, no Gardenside development, only the Versailles Pike. Suzanne Mason's husband, Silas B. Mason, deserves his own story as does that of his company, Mason & Hanger, an engineering frm that links back to 18thcentury origins with his Scottish grandfather's company. The company, based in Lexington and New York and still in existence, did some of its most important work under the leadership of Silas B. Mason and his partner, William Arnold Hanger, who was a founder of Keeneland and an 34 KEENELAND WINTER 2013 Above, a temple folly at some distance from the patio invites a stroll and a refective pause in the landscape.

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