Preston and Lane Lewis live “out” Harp Pike in Bald Knob. Home is about a half mile up a bumpity-bump lane best-suited for a four-wheel drive vehicle. Through two farm gates placed along the wooded path, their home eventually comes into view in a clearing around a bend.
“We love it here. It’s a little piece of heaven and we’re grateful every day for this place,” Lane said, smiling. The couple said they have lived in typical neighborhoods and prefer having space around them.
“Before moving to Frankfort in 1985, we lived in a house right up next to another house in Estill County. Prior to that, we lived at Pine Mountain Settlement School in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere,” Lane said.
Eventually, Preston’s job with the Department of Education brought the family to Frankfort.
“We got in touch with a realtor, Jim Sewell, to help us find a place that was ‘out.’ He told us he had three places to show us; and that he thought we were going to want the last one; but we had to see all three,” Lane said. “He saved this one for last. We came to the first gate in the road. It was padlocked and Jim didn’t have the key.
“So, he pulls a hacksaw out of the trunk and proceeds to saw through the chain! By the time we got to the second gate, Preston and I started getting excited. Then, when we came around the corner — oh my! We knew this was it. The house wasn’t even quite finished and no one had lived here for two years, but we knew that this was the place for us. The location was perfect, there were fabulous views any time of year and we loved the balcony with the dormers and the fireplace. It just fit us.”
Harp Pike Haven
Preston and Lane call their 113 acres Harp Pike Haven. The house was built in 1979 by John Clarkson.
“From what we know and can tell, he salvaged pieces and parts and put the house together,” Lane remarked. “The beams in the house came from old distilleries and the floors were from a $7 truckload of itty bitty pieces of wood flooring cut up and meant to be used for firewood. Clarkson used it to actually lay the floors in the house.”
At the center of the main floor is a hand-laid stone fireplace. On one side of the fireplace is the kitchen and dining area. Crystals hang in the dining room windows creating rainbow prisms. On the other side is the living area with large sliding doors leading to a deck.
The Lewis family has three dogs — Medley, Quincy and Penny. Quincy, who is a very large, active one-year-old pup, often claims the couch as his own.
Next to the living area is a room dedicated to Lane’s sewing.
“I like to sew,” Lane explained. “One thing I’m really enjoying about retirement is to be able to begin a project and then actually get to finish it! And, it’s great to have everything in one room. When the girls were little, it was really important for me to be home with them so I had to figure out a way to do that and make money. I did mending and alterations. And, I had different small businesses.”
Preston adds, “She had a company called ‘Oh Shucks’ where she made things out of corn shucks like dolls and flowers.”
In a place of honor on the kitchen walls is a collection of heirloom samplers inherited from Lane’s Aunt Dorothy including one done in 1804 and 1805.
“My Aunt Dorothy loved sewing and knitting and collected samplers. It was the responsibility of young girls to do a sampler that would tell their family history.”
The house is filled with photos and collectibles that are meaningful to the Lewis family. Books lean against one another on shelves with family photos tucked into open spaces. These things make the home familiar and comfortable.
On the staircase wall, a large, colorful wallhanging by local artist Doris Thurber depicts their farm with the creek running through it and kids playing.
Preston and Lane have three daughters — Bekah, Alisha and Kelsey — who live away from home now.
“The best thing is when all the chicks come home to roost,” Lane commented. “Then, this house is filled with laughter and love.”
At the top of the stairs are two bedrooms and a master bedroom area. Off of the master bedroom is a very special balcony where the Lewis’ have a front row seat to nature. Prayer flags flutter in the breeze on the balcony. On clear nights there are shows of twinkling stars and, sometimes, meteor showers; in the summer, there’s a chorus of crickets and birds, and in autumn, the rolling hills are alive with the yellow, orange and fiery red of tree leaves.
Lane explained that her favorite spot in the house changes.
“If there’s a thunderstorm coming through, my favorite spot is the balcony. If it’s winter and it’s cold outside, then my favorite place is beside the fireplace. If it’s spring and all the hummingbirds are here, then I want to be out where they are,” she said.
Living in the country has both rewards and challenges according to the Lewis family. They relied on a cistern for water for several years before Preston’s parents gave them the gift of city water.
“They ran city water the half mile up to the house as a present to Preston,” Lane remembered. “Before that, we got a thousand gallons off of the roof into our cistern for every inch of rain.”
Being 30 minutes from town means the Lewis family has to be organized about trips into town.
“When the girls were growing up, they were allowed to pick one activity because we just couldn’t go back and forth. They all chose dance and loved taking lessons from Capital City Dance,” Lane remarked.
Even though Lane and Preston have chosen to live in a rural area, they do not live a secluded life. They are active in the Frankfort community.
Among other activities, the couple were instrumental in helping form the Parkinson’s Support Group in Frankfort. Preston retired from the Department of Education and then worked at the University of Kentucky. Lane ran FLIP (Families Learning through Interaction Program) at Thorn Hill Learning Center for 25 years.
Outside the house, there are copious flower beds, a very efficient log splitter, vegetable gardens, an above ground pool and a fairy garden. Almost 3-year-old grandson Pres enthusiastically points out the tractor and the pool.
Preston pulled one of the last red tomatoes from a vine in the fading garden and handed it to his grandson. Pres holds it in both hands and with a big smile at his grandparents, takes a big, juicy bite.