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Holly Rood, The Clark Mansion

By Kathy Cummings
Photos by Jim Cummings


Holly Rood, later known as The Clark Mansion, is one of the most historic homes in Clark County, Kentucky. It’s construction was started in 1813 by James Clark and followed simple lines of Federalist style architecture from his native Virginia. Upon completion in 1814, the new house was named Holly Rood, for the home of Mrs. Clark’s father. He had named his home in Virginia for the country estate of Mary Queen of Scots, Scotland

In the next several decades, as the Clark family grew in prominence, Holly Rood became known as the true home of Kentucky hospitality to the great and the near great of state and national politics.

James Clark as a young boy had moved with his parents from Virginia to Kentucky where the family settled in what was to become Clark County. He returned later to Virginia and received his education, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1797. In 1798, at the age of 21, he returned to Winchester and opened an office to practice law.

In 1807 he entered Kentucky politics and was elected to the House of Representatives. He then served for many years as Judge of the Circuit Court of Kentucky. In 1825, he was elected to Congress and after three terms returned and was elected to the upper house of the Kentucky legislature. In 1835, he was chosen speaker of the Senate and as his popularity grew the following year he became the 12th governor of Kentucky.

Until his death in 1839, he rendered outstanding service to the people of the state. His strongest appeal was for education, and the General Assembly responded by passing an act that established the first common schools in every county of the state.


James Clark


In 1928, the Commonwealth of Kentucky erected an impressive memorial at his burial place. The monument now stands on the lower front lawn in front of the mansion. Below the fine granite shaft, the following inscription appears:

“His state honored him while he lived and she erects his tomb as a pledge that she will cherish his memory in death.”

The Clark Mansion was deeded to The Clark County-Winchester Heritage Commission by The Board of Education in 1976. Restoration was continued through 1979 and completed in 1980.

Located at:

Holly Rood - The Clark Mansion
28 Beckner St.
Winchester KY 40391

For tour information and reservations

The Mansion


Holly Rood is a two-story brick with a wide front porch and ionic columns. It also has a wide entrance and the 2nd story has a palladian window.


The second story, palladian window.

The window was a style developed by the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580). His architecture came to prominence in Britain during the mid-17th century. In the early 18th century it returned to fashion, not only in England but also in many other European countries. Later when the style was falling from favor in Europe, it had a surge in popularity throughout the British colonies in North America. The most famous example of this style is at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia.


Portrait of Governor Clark


The Clark Mansion is furnished with period pieces, and includes some artwork and sculpture relative to the time period. The busts below are by Joel Tanner Hart, a Clark County native, and world renowned sculptor. 


Special thanks to the Clark County Heritage Commission for allowing
us to photograph the Clark Mansion.

Cassius M. Clay
The Lion of Whitehall

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