O Captain! My Captain! Historic Covington Home Prepares for a New Chapter

Steeped in local history, this Covington home is ready to write its next chapter.
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Photograph courtesy Phil Armstrong

207 Garrard St., Covington, $1,395,000

It’s not exactly uncommon to spot bronze placards dotting front porches in historic neighborhoods like Covington. What might be slightly less likely is having a home that connects so deeply to local history, the city itself would have been different without it.

Tucked comfortably within the shady rows of the Licking Riverside Historic District (and in the shadow of the much more modern Ascent building), 207 Garrard St. has both historic chops and 21st century pull, having been impeccably maintained by generations of owners and, at one point, by the city itself.

Photograph courtesy Phil Armstrong

Historical records paint a picture of a property rooted in Covington from its beginning, when Nancy Kennedy inherited the land from her grandfather, Thomas Kennedy, remembered as founder of Covington but also one of the largest plantation owners and slaveholders in Kentucky. Nancy was a colorful character in her own right—rumor has it that Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote several chapters of Uncle Tom’s Cabin while staying at her home and even modeled the character Eva St. Clare after her.

Following Nancy’s death in 1904, the still-vacant land at 207 Garrard St. was sold to Catherine Brennen, the wife of Connecticut-born steamboat captain John Brennen, who went on to build the house in 1908. John served as captain of the Fleetwood, a formidable sidewheel ship that would have run a route between Cincinnati and Louisville during its final years on the water. Decades later, after changing hands a handful of times, the home was sold in 1949 to the Kenton County Fiscal Court, which used it as a courthouse.

Today, however, you’d (thankfully) never know about the house’s stint as anything other than a home, thanks in part to good bones and to the Brennen’s attention to detail over a century ago. It’s still perfectly stately, with hardwood floors, high ceilings, and elegant dark wood details throughout, but it’s modern with its gourmet kitchen and three-car garage, and lush with its very private backyard, where the vine-blanketed arbor, winding walkways, and spacious veranda beckon.

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