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Seely Shoals Estate: A Historic Gem

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Story by Emily Robertson | Photography by Savannah Smith

If the walls of the Seeley Shoals Estate in the Beech Bend area of Bowling Green could talk, they’d surely pour out many stories of the Edward Seeley family that built the home more than 160 years ago, the several generations of the family who would go on to live in the home and its role as a makeshift hospital and soldier refuge during the Civil War. It’s name was given by the Seeley family from the nearby shoals in Barren River beneath the high bluff the house sits on.

Remnants of the original home are everywhere you look, from the wide board oak floors, to the original curved staircase, the beautiful hand-blown Italianate glass windows and the two-story, weathered brick fireplace. But, as the home had been all but abandoned in recent years, it was in major need of TLC. The new homeowner enlisted the help of local designer and contractor Tammi Farrell to bring beauty and functionality back into the historical gem. 

“When the homeowner bought the house in 2021, it was in pretty rough shape,” Farrell says, “but it looked like something we would be able to bring back to life.” The home, which now has four bedrooms and six bathrooms, is the perfect marriage of historical beauty and modern elegance, and much of that is due to Farrell insisting on keeping anything original from the home as she could. “This project was really hard, but it was one of my favorites I’ve ever done,” Farrell says. “I’m so glad we didn’t cover up any of the original materials, unless it had to be replaced due to wear, such as the few spots of the original white siding on the outside of the house. Even then, we worked hard to make it look like it was part of the original home.”

Each bedroom has its own en-suite modern bathroom that is unique and boasts modern luxuries such as lighted mirrors and walk-in showers. One of Farrell’s favorite areas of the home is the upstairs master bedroom and bathroom. The bedroom was likely used as servants’ quarters, which was common to large homes from this time period, has a hidden staircase that leads down to the kitchen area. The attached master bathroom contained a sliding, glass door that was unusable, but was replaced with a large, beautiful window that overlooks the back of the property out to the bluff the house sits on and Barren River down below.

One area of the home that did see a major overhaul was the kitchen, which had previous water damage. “I would have loved to keep the original flooring, but the floor need to be leveled, and by the time we got out all of the damaged flooring, we only had about eight feet of wood,” Farrell says. “We went with large, marble tiles and modern appliances to make the kitchen fully functional, but we were able to keep the two-story, weathered brick fireplace as a gorgeous historical focal point. There used to be one small window in the space, but we decided to open it up and create more windows which provides so much light to the space.”

For décor, Farrell and the homeowner worked to lighten up the colors in the home and bring lots of local charm into the home, focusing on finding pieces they loved and on mixing textures and styles. “We have both historical and modern design in this home,” Farrell says. “The original home was dark, full of mahogany and dark colors. But, it boasts so many wonderful elements like the four original cast iron fireplaces, each with their own crest. We were able to keep them intact and keep lots of the mahogany, but mixed in some lighter colors. It is a good mix of old and new. The homeowner and I picked out all of the pieces for the home and that worked well because we are both very eclectic. We like to go to local places and we picked out things from all over Bowling Green.”

Now that the home is completed, Farrell is incredibly proud of the way that the home still maintains its historical elements, along with modern conveniences that allow for it to be enjoyed by many generations to come. “Whenever you renovate a home, it is 10 times harder than building a home from scratch,” Farrell says. “But, you can’t duplicate the way that something weathers and looks after it has been used for more than 100 years. There is a such a beauty to that and it is worth preserving.” The home is listed in the National Register of Historic Places in Warren County.

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