By Helen Dedman
I feel sure the first time you visited Beaumont Inn as you turned off US 127 onto Beaumont Inn Drive, you wondered what, why and how is this small farm located in the middle of Beaumont Inn’s property? Well, it is the Durr property. Yes, of course, there is a story.
Glave Goddard, second husband and co-founder of the Inn with Annie Bell (her first was Glave’s brother, Nick who died nearly 20 years before Glave and Annie married) had managed his family’s 457 acre farm, Wildwood, on the outskirts of Harrodsburg for many years. After his mother died, the farm was sold and proceeds divided among 9 children. Glave and Annie used his portion to buy the Beaumont College building and some surrounding property on June 17, 1917 after being vacant for several years. Roy and Pearl Durr worked for “Mr.Glave” on the farm at Wildwood as a young married couple. When the Goddards moved to the College property, they asked the Durrs to come along. Annie and Glave moved into the room which is now the front room of the Gift Shop and the Durrs moved into the College’s back room addition, now the location of the Owl’s Nest Pub. Pearl had her first two children in that room. It is hard for me to fathom how both families, the Goddards and the Durrs lived in these single rooms—I guess we are much more “spoiled” these days.
Annie Bell Goddard who graduated from Daughters College (forerunner of Beaumont College) in 1880 and returned to teach there for many years until its closing, persuaded Glave to purchase the College property as rumors were circulating that its life had run its course and would be at risk for demolition. For instance, the present Main Dining Room was at the time hung with burley tobacco curing as you would find in a barn. The windows were either propped open or panes broken out to allow ventilation for the curing crop. Annie Bell was horrified and from this worry of demise, she hatched her scheme of salvation as a boarding house business. Roy, along with other craftsmen helped Glave with the repairs necessary to stabilize and restore the interior to its former condition. In the beginning rooms were rented to traveling tobacco salesmen, teachers, and a few folks traveling along an antiquated road system.
Phillip, third son of Roy and Pearl, once told me that his father after a couple of years of helping “Mr. Glave” at the College property now called Beaumont Inn, really wanted to return to his first love, farming. But every time he said he was going, Annie would tell him, “You can’t leave, you are family.” Pearl was Annie’s sixth cousin and that of course tied in Roy as well.
As the young Durr family began to grow, I am sure it got a little crowded for the family in the single back room addition. So they bought 4 acres just below the Beaumont south property line which was flat bottom land and would allow for enough acreage to hopefully satisfy Roy Sr.’s desire to farm while continuing to be an integral part of Beaumont Inn’s development. (Roy Sr. did oversee the vegetable gardens and small livestock operation located on the Inn property as well.) Glave bought the remaining 6 1/2 acres up the hill. Keep in mind, US 127 was not put in until the 1960’s so the property was surrounded by farmland. Now Roy had his own farm and began farming in earnest, but Uncle Sam called him to fight in the Army during WW I. He did fight overseas and Pearl was very worried upon his return home and exposure to all the culture, food and people of Europe, he would no longer be happy with her. Pearl asked former teacher Annie to educate her as to the ways of world. Pearl was a quick learner. When Annie became the first Mercer County Extension Officer, going to local farms teaching women the latest methods of safe food preparation and preservation such as canning, etc., Pearl went with her. Soon Pearl took over many of the instruction responsibilities so that Annie could devote more time to the Inn business. It is not known if Roy was impressed when he returned but all of their children would be good students and well read. The Durrs had five children; Roy Jr., Eunice, Samuel Bonaparte, Phillip McArthur and Hunter. All of the boys served their country in the US Army. All were farmers, amassing large farms throughout the county.
Chuck remembers going down to the Durr farm as a child with his siblings to “help Ms. Pearl” collect eggs from the hen house, milk the Jersey cows, slop the hogs and pick apples and pears from the small orchard behind the house. There was also a small vegetable garden behind the house. Several out buildings still stand as I write, along with the early outhouse used prior to the days of indoor plumbing. His memory recalls a small pristine conditioned farm so exemplanary of that age of self-sufficient farm families. A way of life so coveted of its day.
In my time since 1975, long after Roy and Pearl had died, two of the brothers still lived on the farm raising a few dairy cows and cutting hay from the pastures. They now owned several large farming tracts in the county and were very prosperous. All were very frugal, loved history and could share wonderful stories. The last brother, Phillip, passed away earlier this year (2014). Beaumont Inn bought the property from the heirs in November 2014.
The next time you visit we most certainly will be clearing out brush, relaying rock walls, and remembering the contributions and friendships the Durr family has shared with the Dedman family and Beaumont Inn since its beginning nearly 100 years ago.