JOEL HIGGINS' MANSION

Lexington Avenue, Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky
Built 1826


"Higgins' Mansion," so called in the 1838 Directory, came into being a few years after Joel Higgins married Ann Louise Gibson, of Mississippi, in 1826. He was a native of Fayette County and was educated in old Transylvania University.

Joel Higgins, Sr., as he signed himself when he made his will in 1858 (he died in 1859), had bought a large acreage here in the Elijah Smith tract--the latter being bounded by Limestone, High and Rose Streets and flanking John Maxwell's property (Maxwell St.)--from Joseph Patterson and other Smith heirs.

Higgins built his mansion facing High Street (as the columns show) and had a long driveway lined with cedar trees leading to the mansion. He took part in the leading affairs of Lexington, was one of the incorporators of beautiful Lexington Cemetery (1849) and reared his family in this house.

After his death, his widow continued to live here and the home was in her possession until 1867, when John Allen Higgins, her son, purchased the property from the widow and the other heirs. John Allen Higgins (b. 1831 - d. 1880), also educated in Transylvania University, divided his time between his plantation in Arkansas, on the Mississippi River, and his farm in Fayette County.

Joel Higgins, Jr., (b. February 19, 1835), one of five sons, enlisted in the Confederate Army at Camp Boone, Tennessee, July, 1861. Elected 1st Lieut. of Co. B 2nd Kentucky Infantry, he was promoted to Captain and then to Major. His regiment was part of the "Orphan Brigade," successively commanded by Hanson, Helm and Lewis, of Breckinridge's Division, Hardee's Corp, Army of Tennessee. He was in the battle of Fort Donelson (was captured there), Hartsville, Murfreesboro, Missionary Ridge, in the Campaign from Chattanooga to Atlanta, Jonesboro and in the Mounted engagements. He surrendered at Jackson, Mississippi, May, 1865. He resided in Mobile, Alabama, for a while after the war, but later returned to Lexington and died here.

The mansion has been converted in recent years into an apartment house, fronting on Lexington Avenue, but the side yard has been retained, thus preserving in part the dignity of its former massive front. The interior, with its substantial wood work of more than a century ago, is an interesting exhibit today. One of the old wooden keys, among other relics, has been preserved.

Wm. Lowry, in 1877, platted this section and laid out Lexington Avenue. He owned the Higgins'  Mansion and the property on both sides of the street.

Source: Old Houses of Lexington, C. Frank Dunn, typescript, n.d., copy located in the Kentucky Room, Lexington (Kentucky) Public Library.

Transcribed by pb, June 2006