Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Helm Place is a Kentucky Historic Landmark that is both architecturally and historically significant. In addition to the Greek Revival home built circa 1853, the property includes 150 acres of improved horse farmland, horse barns, fields, and paddocks. Located minutes from Blue Grass Airport and only seven miles from downtown Lexington, Kentucky, Helm Place exemplifies the beauty of the famed Bluegrass region. Home to Emilie Todd Helm, half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln, Helm Place has ties to President Abraham Lincoln.
The property was settled by the Bowman family in 1781. They established a large plantation and grist mill and built the mansion, originally called Cedar Hall.
Emilie and her three grown children purchased the home in 1912. She renamed the property “Helm Place” in honor of her late husband’s ancestral home in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. As a younger half-sister to Mary Todd Lincoln, Emilie was referred to as “Little Sister” by Abraham Lincoln. Emilie caused a controversy for Abraham and Mary Lincoln when she visited the White House after the death of her husband, Benjamin Hardin Helm. Helm died at the Battle of Chickamauga while fighting for the Confederate Army. Immediately after Ben’s death, Emilie attempted to return to family in Kentucky, but refused to take the oath of allegiance required to cross into Union territory. The soldiers, unsure what to do with the President’s sister-in-law, telegraphed Lincoln. His response: “Send her to me.” She became a guest of Abraham and Mary Lincoln in the White House, where her visit in December 1863, upset many Washingtonians. Detractors referred to her as the “Rebel in the White House.”
Emilie’s daughter, Katherine Helm, was a trained artist working in the first quarter of the 20th century. Known for her portrait paintings, her most famous works are five portraits of her Aunt Mary Lincoln, one of which is in the White House Collection and for many years hung in the Lincoln Bedroom. Katherine also painted landscapes, some of which can be seen in Helm Place. Her paintings are located over the mantels in bedrooms and on the dining room wall, she painted an impressive panoramic mural that depicts the South Elkhorn Creek—a creek close to the property.
Helm Place is a high-style example of Kentucky’s antebellum Greek Revival architecture, and the home retains a remarkable degree of architectural integrity, with original ash hardwood floors, woodwork, mantels, wall presses, pocket doors, and Carpenter rim locks throughout the home.
The Helms renovated the back porch and gallery to create a new dining room, bathroom and kitchen. Decorative touches were added, including chandeliers and wainscoting made from shutters from the Helms’ previous home in Louisville, Kentucky.
The last owner of Helm Place placed the property in trust to the Kentucky Mansions Preservation Foundation in 1996. The foundation assumed ownership of the property in 2012. The property has a conservation easement, a preservation easement on some portions of the mansion’s interior and is designated by the city as a Local Landmark with an historic overlay.
Now is your opportunity to own one of the most historic and notable properties in Kentucky. This will be a sealed-bid auction without reserve, with bids due Oct. 31, 2022. See all terms at biedermanrealestate.com.
Note: This home and its accompanying acreage once served as a plantation, which operated via the labor of enslaved persons. We encourage any interested buyers to make efforts to understand this complicated history.
Updated on September 28, 2022 at 2:35 pm