By Helen Dedman
Last fall a good friend of ours, Anne Shannon McClellan Williams, called me with the message, “Katie needs to come home.” Anne’s husband was the great grandson of John Augustus Williams, founder of Daughter’s College, now Beaumont Inn. John Augustus and his father, Dr. Charles E. Williams, bought the Greenville Institute in 1845, upgraded and changed the name to Daughter’s College. John wanted to teach and counsel the young ladies as if they were his own daughters. John Augustus and his wife, Mary Hathaway, had 6 children, Augustus Edwin, 1854-1916; Mary Belle, 1850-1851; Mary Augustus, 1852-1853; Katie Burnett, 1856-1859; Guy Bowman, 1864-1898; Lee Price, 1868-1892. None of the girls lived longer than 3 years. Katie was born in Missouri and died in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Before she died, an early photograph was taken of her. Years later a Civil War soldier came to “collect his daughter” who had been at Daughters College for safe keeping and educating during the war. Unfortunately, this survivor did not have the means to pay for his daughter’s education, so he painted this pastel portrait of Katie from the photograph for payment. Her new home is the front parlor of Beaumont Inn. She is home and we will take very good care of her. What a wonderful gift!
A few summers ago a former employee and Dedman family friend, Billie Ruth Hendren, moved from her Harrodsburg home to an assisted living facility. As she was relocating to a more institutional setting, she wanted to “return home” a beautiful table that had once graced her great aunt’s home. Well, that great aunt was Mrs. Grover Kyle, who built Greystone, now one of the four buildings that make up Beaumont Inn. Mrs. Kyle was the niece of Eli Lilly, pharmaceutical giant founder of Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. Kyle, from Harrodsburg, went to work as a chemist for the company in Indianapolis. There he met his bride and brought her back to Harrodsburg, where they lived on a beautiful farm in the county. After Mr. Kyle died and the Lilly stock became very profitable, Mrs. Kyle decided to move into town with her 3 children. She built Greystone in 1931 for $30,000, employing well known architect Hugh Meriwether for design. Stone masons (from WPA project) crafted the beautiful building from Kentucky limestone quarried in Wilmore, Kentucky. The house and furnishings were sold at auction in the 1950s when Mrs. Kyle died. After several owners, the Dedman family purchased the property in the early 60s, incorporating the four large upstairs bedrooms for guest rooms and opening an antique shop in the spacious downstairs. Now, the table. Billie Ruth had always been instructed by her aunt that when she downsized or moved, the table must return home to Beaumont Inn/Greystone. And now it has! This beautiful hallway table, vintage 1930’s, now graces the foyer of Greystone which may very well have been exactly where Mrs. Kyle placed it years ago.
One other treasure, the Baby (Cleopatra) Clock is located in the main hallway of Beaumont Inn. This beautiful Victorian clock illustrating the newly developed gold gilding process was part of the French exhibit at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Evidently a good friend and frequent visitor of Pauline Goddard Dedman’s (second generation innkeeper), bought the clock after the fair. When she later became a widow, her downsizing from the large family home to apartment life compelled her to gift her treasured clock to a more public venue where this beautiful piece could be enjoyed by others. She could think of no better place for display than Pauline’s Beaumont Inn. In talking with my friend, antique dealer Jerry Sampson, I found out this gold gilding process makes the gold brighter, less flaking and better to withstand age. But mercury was used in the process. As many of the craftsmen died of mercury poisoning, the process was outlawed. Wow! Hopefully, someday we will rediscover the name of Pauline’s generous friend in order to give proper recognition!
There are many more gifts that grace the halls of our buildings which I will share at another time. We are so fortunate!