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Boxwood Estate and Garden

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Story by Angela Reeves | Photography by Alan Hudson

A Historic Landmark of Warren County, the home at 1234 State Street, was built in 1843 and later became known as Boxwood for its many large boxwood shrubs on the grounds. Owner James “Jim” Skaggs, PhD, purchased the home in 2001 after attending the auction of the home with a friend. “I had no intention of buying the home, yet I did,” said Skaggs. “My friend Mitchell Leichardt who invited me just to have a nice time at a reception, talked me into it,” he recalls. Dr. Skaggs had a home down the road on State Street at the time which he later sold.

Boxwood is a Federal Style home and was originally known as “The Clark Home,” as it was home to Mr. and Mrs. O.V. Clark. It is known for its French Colonial architecture with an all brick structure and recessed porch behind large white columns and later became known for its beautiful garden and courtyard as well.

Inside the home Dr. Skaggs has decorated with what he calls “accidental furniture” which adds comedy to the accidental purchase. Skaggs had a friend renting his other home on State Street who offered to sell some of her furniture which seemed fitting to the home and next he knew, he had agreed to buy it all.

Many of the pieces are antiques and fitting with the age and ambiance of the home. The parlor room off the front entrance is home to two pianos, one from 1850 which was gifted to him from a friend. Skaggs enjoys playing the piano but admits that one is “just worth looking at, not much for playing.” He loves the sconce detail on the walls in the parlor which were added over 100 years ago and modeled after a palace in Versailles. The chandeliers in the parlor room and dining room are original to the house and beautiful pieces of craftsmanship.

The “Clark Home” was featured in Antiques Magazine in December 1947 which is a great piece of history to view the home through the years, and Skaggs proudly has it on display. “I love the high ceilings, chandeliers, crown molding, tall windows and silk drapes. The house has a long history and has been cared for by many families over the years, “ said Skaggs. Dr. Skaggs is a retired English professor, so it’s no surprise he converted the back covered patio into an enclosed conservatory and library. On his bookshelves you can find several of his own books of poetry, including “Voices from the Heartland.” This room has quickly become his favorite in the house and will leave his personal touch and piece of history as part of his legacy in the home.

The upstairs has three bedrooms, with the guest room accented in all pink including the walls and silk drapes. Outside of it is a full bathroom with original fixtures and tile. There is a porch off of the upstairs hallway which overlooks the public library down below. “Nothing makes a retired English professor happier than living across from a library,” said tenant Chad Smith.

The home is now occupied by four generations under one roof. Chad Smith, a REALTOR with Coldwell Bank Legacy Real Estate Group, has lived in the Carriage House on the property for eleven years. He and Dr. Skaggs met through the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Bowling Green and he knew just by seeing the garden, before stepping into the carriage home, this was a place he wanted to call home. He is now the care provider and property manager for Dr. Skaggs.

Brandon Miller also became a tenant of the carriage house three years ago and has become the main gardener for the property. The upstairs in the main home is rented to Travis Lize, a WKU student studying political science and communication. “Sometimes we run like a well-oiled machine and sometimes we are a circus. We all want the best for each other. It’s great having such support at home,” said Chad about the “family” dynamic at Boxwood.

Sometime between the 30s and 40s the Clarks hired landscape architect Maxwell Mitchell Leichardt to create the beautiful garden. Stories tell that Mrs. Clark was the driving force behind the garden and what she wanted, she got. “Every detail was thought through with this garden. You can tell it was designed by a gardener.

I’ve never worked in a garden so easy to work with,” said Smith. The garden includes a wonderful brick fence, unique statues, two goldfish ponds, raised vegetable garden, banana trees, elephant ears, flowers by season, beautiful plants and decor to go along with the time of year. “We have been actively restoring the Courtyard for a few years. Our goal in the spring is to have beautiful plants that will be low maintenance so we can enjoy the garden more and work in the garden less,” said Miller.

You can keep up with the Courtyard at Boxwood through their facebook page, @Boxwood 1843. The garden and grounds at Boxwood are a featured stop in the Kids on the Block Garden Tour and Tea this spring. Follow South Central Kentucky Kids on the Block for upcoming details.

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