Paul Sawyier (1865-1917) and Lillian Lindsey (1878-1939) were Frankfort citizens who envisioned Frankfort in different ways. Sawyier gained notoriety as an artist who painted scenes of Frankfort and the Kentucky River. Lillian Lindsey today could be coined as Frankfort’s early environmentalist, struggling to preserve the hills of Frankfort.
Paul Sawyier captured the early buildings and byways of Frankfort and the Kentucky River. One painting shows the Vest Lindsey House, the home of Lillian Lindsey, at the corner of Washington and Wapping streets. Lindsey began several organizations, including The Garden Club of Frankfort, the Frankfort Women’s Club and ironically, the library, which is named after Paul Sawyier. The corner is known as the “Corner of Celebrities,” where many people of national acclaim have stayed.
The “Corner of Celebrities” is on the campus of First United Methodist Church (FUMC), which consists of the church, the Wesley Center and two houses. Situated directly across from the Paul Sawyier Public Library is the Todd House, which was built in 1812 and was the home of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thomas Todd — one of Frankfort’s prominent citizens.
Todd bought the house in 1818. His heirs continued to live there until 1908 when Dr. and Mrs. Juet T. James purchased the property. When he died, his wife opened her home to boarders. Some of Frankfort’s leading citizens rented rooms or apartments there.
The Todd House was sold to Good Shepherd Catholic Church in 1945 and the Sisters of Charity lived there until it was sold in 1985. The Todd House now houses FUMC’s administrative offices and church school rooms. Several additions have been made to the home over the years, including a memorial garden maintained on the outside grounds.
The present FUMC building was completed in 1858. Before Todd purchased the property, it served as the mansion house stable lot — a livery stable. The church has horseshoes and nails that were found on the property displayed. The architecture is Gothic with a stone front, which was added in 1886.
The stained-glass windows, which have been recently refurbished, has no historical documentation, but according to Roy Nance, FUMC music director, “the windows were probably ordered out of a catalogue, as was the custom of the time,” he said.
The Wesley Center, a family life building built in 2007, offers opportunities for the church and other groups to utilize a larger space for functions, such as special musical programs and fundraisers.
The red brick home was purchased by the church in 1985. The house was built in 1905 and occupied by the Averill family. The “Averill House” is used for Sunday School and other church gatherings.
The landscaping for the campus is maintained by volunteers from the church.
The other house on the property is the “Lighthouse” — the youth building. It was built in 1895 to be the parsonage.
One wonders if Sawyier and Lindsey would still see the beauty of Frankfort as they did during their lifetime. We know Frankfort has embraced its history and art attractions and The Garden Club of Frankfort strives to continue Lindsey’s love and care of its natural beauty that Paul Sawyier loved to paint.
FUMC is on the Frankfort Public Art Tour. Information about the church and other downtown Frankfort historic sites can be accessed at Visitfrankfort.com.
Source: “Saddlebags to Steeple: A Heritage of Methodism in Frankfort, Ky.”