High Bridge

Historical Marker #1381 near Wilmore pays tribute to High Bridge, which spans the Kentucky River connecting Mercer and Jessamine counties. While living on a houseboat on the Kentucky River, Sawyier spent a good deal of time anchored at High Bridge. There, he met many local families. His friendships with these residents became important during inclement weather. He often spent the night with a local ferry operator who lived across the river from High Bridge.

While at High Bridge, Sawyier entertained his friends and key patrons. These included John J. King of Frankfort and John Wilson Townsend of Lexington. King frequently purchased Sawyier's work and often advanced him money for future paintings. The Sawyier painting depicting the Kentucky River, "Bend in the River," is from the collection of John J. King.

In addition to entertaining John Townsend at High Bridge, Sawyier lived with him in Lexington for a short time. Townsend, an author who was born in Lexington, wrote about Kentucky history and penned a well-known anthology about Kentucky literature. Many of the tidbits about Sawyier's personal life come from Townsend's published recollections.

Another important visitor at High Bridge was Mary Thomas (Mayme) Bull. Bull and Sawyier were romantically involved for many years. Although she has been described as his fiancée, they were never married. The painting, "Portrait of ‘Mayme' Bull Within River Landscape," was done around 1908, perhaps when Sawyier first began living on the Kentucky River.

Today, the Kentucky Historical Society has the world's largest collection of Paul Sawyier paintings.



Mary Thomas (Mayme) Bulljpg / 186.52 kB Download
Gold Braceletjpg / 45.30 kB Download
Kentucky River from Chimney RockBMP / 741.78 kB Download