The Smedley Yeiser is one of the oldest residential structures in town, located in Paducah's historic Lowertown neighborhood and in close proximity to the downtown district. Located at 533 Madison St, the house dates to 1852 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With original plaster walls, heart cypress floors, and original lighting, it is the classic setting for your elegant and dignified event.
The Smedley Yeiser previously had housed the Alben Barkley Museum, but had been shuttered since 2008 when the museum closed. The city had other plans for the building that were never realized, and in 2015 they offered it up for sale with an approved proposal. Lauren and Levi Kepsel purchased the house in 2015 and spent a year undergoing a detail historical preservation. The plumbing, electrical, and heating and air have been updated to modern standards. The original features of the house such as wood windows, lime plaster, gypsum crown molding, and standing seam copper roof have all been repaired.
The one story house is built in the Greek Revival style, with four expansive rooms, a kitchen, and a back breezeway. The breezeway was likely originally open and led to a separate detached kitchen but was closed in the 1970's with a wall. During the renovation, Lauren and Levi revised this wall to be mostly glass with french doors leading to an exterior deck, emulating the original open feel while keeping the building enclosed.
Lauren and Levi have worked hard to blend modern and classic styles, with an emphasis on quality and craftsmanship. You'll see this effort reflected in the hand finished lime plaster veneers, the imported wallpapers and the hand scraped and painted moldings throughout the building. There is no substitute for high quality hand work and craft. Lauren and Levi have reused, reclaimed and up cycled as many original materials as possible. They reused the original floor joists(rotten at the ends) as materials for construction and painstakingly removed, re-milled, and relaid the original floor planks as flooring. Where the original flooring ran out, the Smedley Yeiser features locally harvested and milled Ash from nearby Tennessee. Where the building exterior brick mortar needed re pointed they had the original mortar professionally analyzed and replicated the correct ratio of lime, sand, and water.
Lauren and Levi and our entire contruction team have put our hearts and souls into the restoration and preservation of this incredible building. With it's depth of history and modern touches the Smedley-Yeiser has an unmistakable presence that will suit your special event perfectly.
Through the Windows of Time
by Sharon Poat and Randy Simmons, printed in Jan/Feb 2013 edition of Paducah Life
In 1821 the first families settled at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, where Paducah is now. By 1856, the village had grown to more than 2,500 people and had become a third-class city.
During the time Paducah was developing as a frontier town, between 1820 and 1860, the Greek Revival style became THE architectural style in America. The Greek Revival style was first employed by pre-eminent architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe in a Philadelphia bank in 1798. The style featured prominent, full-length columns under a deep entablature at the roofline, echoing the design of the Parthenon and other Greek temples. The style was used widely in banks, churches, governmental, and other public buildings. It was an architectural expression of the affinity Americans felt with the ancient Greeks and their democratic ideals.
In his Antebellum Architecture of Kentucky, Clay Lancaster says of the Greek Revival style: "the objectives were bigness, spaciousness, graciousness, security, and consistency. " Several popular pattern books reprinted throughout the first half of the nineteenth century offered architects and craftsmen sample options for columns, front doors, mantels, and other stylistic elements. These were combined and adapted not only in public buildings but also in high-style and in more modest homes.A Field Guide to American Houses notes that the style was passing out of fashion on the eastern seaboard by the 1840s but that it continued to be used inland and in rural areas until the 1860s, especially in the South.
Paducah's Smedley-Yeiser House, ca. 1860, is a later but typical example of Greek Revival residential architecture. With its 13' ceilings and 10' doorways, it manages to feel spacious in a relatively small footprint. The interior walls, like the exterior walls are solid brick, 16" thick. These contribute to a sense of security and solidness, as does the massive and detailed trim work. Inside and out, the home is Paducah's finest example of mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival architecture and one of only a handful of remaining pre-Civil War buildings.
Why is it called the Smedley-Yeiser House?
Several generations of Paducahans have known and loved the home on the corner of North 6th and Madison Streets as the home of an active Young Historians group and the Alben Barkley Museum. Interestingly, the home has no connection with the Veep. When the museum dissolved several years ago, the collection went to the George Rogers Clark Market House Museum. Without its museum identity, the house is more accurately known by its historic name.
The typical naming convention is to call a historic building by the name of its initial owner. In this case, the home was built by William Smedley, a wharf boat captain and commission merchant in this river town. His eldest daughter Missouri Smedley Byrd and her family owned and likely lived in the home in the 1860s.
In 1892 Mayor David Yeiser purchased the house and lived there a short time with his family. His widow and adult relatives returned to the house in the 1920s. During his first term as mayor of Paducah from 1891-1897, Yeiser oversaw the laying of the first sewer system, installation of 200 arc lights replacing the gas street lights, and the construction of three new fire stations and a school.
During his later terms from 1901-1908, Paducah's population was large enough that the town was able to proudly call itself "a second class city." He oversaw the first paving of city streets: in 1906, 48 miles of streets were gravel and 4.18 miles were paved. Since Yeiser was a significant subsequent owner of the home, naming convention suggests that his name be added to the original owner's to finalize the historic name--the Smedley-Yeiser House.