Elmwood Hall

Thomas D. and Sally Carneal built
this classical villa from 1818-20,
facing the Ohio River on a 968+
acre farm. In 1827, Wm. Bullock
of London purchased the estate
and planned a garden-town called
Hygeia. It failed. In 1831-36,
Israel Ludlow, Jr. and his wife
Helen Adela bought the farm and
developed the town of Ludlow.

Presented by The Ludlow Heritage Museum

Elmwood Hall

In the 1880s, after the railroad
arrived, Elmwood was divided into
a double house or duplex. Its rear
kitchen wing was removed to create
a new front on Forest Ave.
Thomas’ Candy Factory occupied it
in the 1920-70s. It then housed
studios of local artists. Elmwood
Hall is Ludlow’s longest
surviving structure.

Sponsored by The Starke Family Foundation

Historical marker #2597 tells the history and importance of Elmwood Hall to the city of Ludlow. The earliest surviving building in Ludlow, Elmwood Hall preceded the town’s founding.

Thomas D. and Sally Carneal assembled a 968+ acre estate on the Ohio River and built a neoclassical villa there in 1818-1820. They consulted designs of 16th-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio and adapted such features as his geometric plans and recessed porticos to their site. Elmwood was perhaps the latest, furthest west, and most wide open example of the Anglo-American, Palladian villa revival. Large portions of its north, east and west walls opened to the spectacular river views. A now-gone, rear el-wing to the south housed kitchen services. The estate included landscaped grounds, orchards, vineyards, gardens, a coach house, icehouse, dairy, barns, a sawmill, and quarters for the Carneals’ enslaved African-Americans. The interior of the house displays some of the best early decorative plaster and woodwork in the state. The entrance hall is notable, with corner columns, acanthus friezes, pendentives, and a circular ceiling, making it perhaps the most sophisticated Federal-period interior in the state. Carneal laid out Covington, Kentucky in 1815 with his business partners, the Gano brothers, and served in the Kentucky State Legislature in the early 1820s. The Carneals sold Elmwood to William and Catherine Bullock of England in 1827, who owned the renowned Egyptian Hall museum in London.

Bullock decided to establish a garden-town on the Elmwood site, called “Hygeia,” after the Greek goddess of health. He marketed his proposed town not only to Americans, but to his acquaintances of limited income in England, as they would benefit from high quality but low cost goods and taxes in the United States. Bullock hired English Regency architect John Buonarottti Papworth to design Hygeia. Its plan included multiple geometries and its architecture an array of different styles, housing types, and social levels. It was the most adventurous new town designed in America and exhibited a degree of idealism, offering accommodations for different classes. Despite its projected attractions, Hygeia failed due to its remote location, its lack of jobs for a robust population, and its inability to attract either locals or immigrants. Realizing defeat, Bullock sold the land to Israel Ludlow, Jr. and his wife Helen Adela in two parcels, in 1831 and 1836.

The Ludlows and their in-laws, the Kenners of Louisiana, platted their own town on the Elmwood estate. Both families lived at Elmwood Hall at different times in the 1830s-40s. With the arrival of the Cincinnati-Southern Railroad in the late 1870s, the town began to develop quickly. A rapid rise in population and extensive building activities in the 1880s resulted in Elmwood being subdivided and split into a double-house to accommodate more residents. The rear kitchen wing was removed and a new, Victorian Italianate front was created on Forest Avenue.

Mrs. Thomas’ Candy Factory occupied the structure in the 1920-70s. The company was famously known for its bonbons and opera-creams. During the time Eda and Albert Thomas owned Elmwood Hall and operated the candy factory, the house was recorded by the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1936 and entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Elmwood Hall housed the studio of local artists during the 1970-90s and is now being restored as a residence.


Elmwood Hallpdf / 203.30 kB Download
North or river front of Elmwood Hallpdf / 216.05 kB Download
Reconstructed floorplan of Elmwood Hallpdf / 83.93 kB Download
Original entrance hall of Elmwood Hallpdf / 179.47 kB Download
East front of Elmwood Hall with original recessed porticopdf / 246.10 kB Download
Elmwood Hallpdf / 232.92 kB Download
Historic American Building Surveys drawing of 1936pdf / 165.83 kB Download
Plat of Webster Subdivision, Ludlow, KY 1885pdf / 67.45 kB Download
Plan of Hygeia, Kentuckypdf / 159.19 kB Download