Marker #82, “Site of Fairfield,” 4 miles NW of Paris, US 27, Bourbon County.
Historical Marker #82 highlights the home of James Garrard, second governor of Kentucky. Governor James Garrard’s first house, located on Stoner Creek was called Fairfield and was a comfortable stone house built before 1785 of native limestone. It was the scene of early Bourbon County Court sessions. Elizabeth Mountjoy Garrard, the governor’s wife, did not like the low area in which it was built. She suspected the location so close to the creek was not a healthful place to live so a second house, called Mount Lebanon was built across the creek on a high cliff overlooking the creek and Fairfield.
After the family moved into Mount Lebanon, Fairfield eventually became home to James Garrard, Jr. the Governor’s second son and his family. This James became the farmer who ran the entire Garrard estate during his father’s many absences while serving the state. Young James became one of the most famous agricultural leaders of his time. He was also a successful politician and statesman. James, Jr. was equally successful in his career as a military presence against the Indians and as a General in the War of 1812. His military skill was evident at the Battle of the River Raisin in that war.
Charles Todd Garrard, grandson of the governor, acquired the farm circa 1830. He built a larger home, known as Locust Grove, on the property. He was a noted stock breeder and owned cattle descended from the first pedigreed stock imported in 1817.
Shortly after the Civil War, the farm was sold to Colonel Ezekiel Field Clay, a son of Brutus J. Clay, of Auvergne. Colonel Clay incorporated Fairfield into what became known as Runnymede Farm, the oldest continuous Thoroughbred-breeding farm in Kentucky.
Another significant stone building on Runnymede Farm is the Cooper’s Run Baptist Meeting House, built in 1803 for one of the oldest congregations in Kentucky. Governor Garrard helped to establish the church and served as its minister for ten years. Runnymede has used this structure as a horse barn since 1900.
Fairfield remained part of Runnymede until 1924 when the farm was divided between two of E.F. Clay’s children, one of which received the original Fairfield boundaries. The stone house burned in 1951 leaving only a shell. Part of the stone was used as facing for the Anne Duncan House at Duncan Tavern. The remaining stone was used to build a 4-room house on the bank of Stoner Creek directly in front of the site of the original structure. The site of Fairfield remains in possession of descendants of E.F. Clay.
Governor James Garrard by Henry E. Everman
Historic Architecture of Bourbon County, Kentucky, Walter E. Langsam and William Gus Johnson, Paris, KY, Historic Paris-Bourbon County, Inc. 1985, p. 82.
God’s Acres: Private Graveyards in Bourbon County, Kentucky, collected by Kenney Shropshire Roseberry and Rogers Roseberry Bardé, Paris: KY, Historic Paris-Bourbon County, Inc., p. 18 & 22.
James Garrard Jr., the son of the governor James Garrard, who lived in Fairfield and farmed the Garrard land. [Google Images, 2013]
James Garrard, second governor of Kentucky, 1796-1800, builder of Fairfield. [Portrait by Chester Harding, 1792-1866]
Garrard family cemetery, located at the site of Mount Lebanon, the second home built by James Garrard. [from God’s Acres, p. 163.]