Friday, June 19, 2009

The Tilghman House

Dr. T. Y. Hiter
12 June, 2009

In the 1850s a southern civil engineer and railroad man came to Paducah, Kentucky, to build a railroad. First, though, he had to have a place to live
and he had a house built for himself and his family. What he constructed was a solid, foursquare two-story in the Greek-revival style. Located just a couple of blocks from downtown and the Ohio River, the house was built of brick, plastered inside and out, with plenty of windows and had a sheet-metal roof. It was no mansion, but it was well-built and sturdy; likely to last for a long time.

A decade later, Mister Tilghman was far better known as Confederate General Lloyd Tilghman, and indeed by mid-War, he lay dead, a casualty of the Battle of Champion’s Hill. The family eventually moved north and the house began a long decline. It had served a variety of purposes, including office space and apartments.

Fast forward now, if you would, to the early 1990s. The old Tilghman House had reached the end of its days. Derelict, the Paducah city council was determined to condemn and demolish it, and free up the space for development. The General Lloyd Tilghman Camp of the SCV entered at that point and in April, 1992, the Tilghman Camp managed to buy the old house from the city for $1.00. Then, they set about restoring it. By August of 1998, the decline had been arrested and the restoration was having an obvious impact.

Wanting to see the house enjoyed by the public at large, the Camp decided to make it into a museum. A foundation was formed to administer the property. Regrettably, the SCV and the local Camp lost control of the house in the process. Following a series of ill-advised financial ventures and some very heavy borrowing to support the ongoing restoration and maintenance, the foundation had failed and the house was again in grave difficulty. Again, the men of the Tilghman Camp stepped in to salvage the situation.

First, another local museum was engaged to take control of the property. Simultaneously, negotiations were entered upon with International HQ of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to permanently purchase the house and run it as an SCV property. Initially, the General Executive Council (the SCV’s board of directors) bought the parking lot. Then, in 2008, title to the entire house passed to the national SCV with the understanding that it would be the responsibility of the Kentucky Division and the local Camp to maintain the house and keep it open. A local governing board made up of SCV members has now been formed and is in charge of those tasks. Restoration work continues, and will for some time. A separate bank account has been set up and is available for donations at any time.

Once again, the Tilghman Camp, the Kentucky Division, and now the entire SCV have something to be proud of: the home of a Confederate hero, restored to its pre-War glory and accessible to one and all, thanks to the SCV.

1 comment:

The Gray Ghost said...

Congradulations to the Tilgman Camp for its preseverence in obtaining and continuing the restoration of this house.