Why You Need to Visit the Whitehaven Welcome Center in Paducah, KY


I will need to have been within the fallacious place. All the freeway indicators on Interstate 24 pointed towards a welcome middle with restrooms. But after parking my automotive, I regarded by way of the windshield at an enormous three-story antebellum residence. Elaborate Corinthian columns supported a towering portico. Wooden shudders flanked double-hung home windows. The bricks had been painted a superb white.

I should have been within the fallacious place.

But after getting out of the automotive, I discovered the restrooms and the racks full of tourism brochures. A map on the wall pinpointed my location in Paducah, Kentucky. I heard the acquainted plop from close by merchandising machines.

This was a welcome middle. The Whitehaven Welcome Center. And it’s the one welcome middle within the nation in an antebellum residence.

Second proprietor Edward Atkins added the entrance portico with beautiful Corinthian columns.

History of Whitehaven

In 1865, Edward Anderson constructed a two-story brick farmhouse. Typical of the development strategies on the time, the bricks had been fired in a kiln on web site.

In 1903, the Anderson household offered the home to Edward Atkins. Atkins employed his pal, architect Alda Lafayette Lassiter, to rework the brick farmhouse within the Greek Revival model. Lassiter added the entrance portico supported by eight Corinthian columns, intricate crown molding, and constructed a grand staircase within the middle of the home. Atkins painted the brick home white and named it Whitehaven.

After the loss of life of his spouse, Atkins offered the home to James Smith, the ninth mayor of Paducah, in 1908. James and Nell Smith had six kids and wanted extra room in the home. The attic was transformed into a 3rd flooring with bedrooms, and a big kitchen was connected to the again of the home. Nell renamed the home “Bide-A-Wee,” a Scottish phrase that means “Stay awhile.”

In 1968, the final member of the Smith household moved out. The household employed caretakers to keep up the property, however as a substitute, they started promoting something of worth and pocketing the money. When the final caretaker moved out in 1979, squatters promptly moved in. Nearly each window in the home was damaged, the flooring and ceilings rotted, and a portion of the east wall collapsed.

In 1981, the Smith household offered the 32-acre property and the home to the Paducah Junior College. The small faculty wanted land to increase its campus however had little interest in the home. The luxurious mansion continued to deteriorate.

Whitehaven Welcome Center

While visiting the realm in 1981, Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown Jr. realized concerning the historic home on the aspect of the not too long ago accomplished Interstate 24. Along with Secretary of Transportation Frank Metts, Brown determined the home could be the proper location for a welcome middle for southbound visitors from Illinois.

The state bought the home and a small tract of land from the Paducah Junior College. The home was restored to its early 1900s glamour that includes a Greek Revival model. The kitchen wing behind the home was renovated to function the restrooms and welcome middle. The second flooring was transformed right into a museum displaying memorabilia of Vice President Alben Barkley, a Paducah native who served within the Truman administration from 1949 to 1953.

The unique carriage home, storm shelter, and gazebo had been additionally restored and repurposed for storage. Picnic tables had been put in beneath just a few timber close to the carriage home. And an entry ramp for southbound visitors was constructed on to the welcome middle.

On June 23, 1983, the Whitehaven Welcome Center was open, the one customer middle within the nation situated inside an antebellum residence.

Guided Tours of Whitehaven

The Whitehaven Welcome Center has clear restrooms, outside picnic tables, a spot to stroll the canine, and racks of journey brochures. In some ways, it’s similar to some other interstate welcome middle.

But guests also can take a guided tour of the historic home.

Tours start on the prime of each hour, and I used to be only a few minutes early. I waited within the small foyer as a gaggle of 5 extra guests gathered. The tour started in a room with a beautiful white brick fire and grand piano. The tour information defined that unique supplies had been used throughout restoration within the Nineteen Eighties.

The tour included the lobby with daylight pouring by way of the big glass doorways and home windows, built-in benches, and the grand staircase. Upstairs, rooms had been embellished with interval furnishings, though not unique. The Barkley Room displayed Alben Barkley’s desk used whereas he was a congressman and one other desk used whereas vp.

The tour lasted solely half an hour. But I had by no means been on a guided tour at a welcome middle earlier than, so it was already higher than most.

And I had by no means seen a welcome middle inside a historic antebellum residence.


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