Behind the doors of the Charles Todd House

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Welcome to the home of Sherry and Lawrence Jelsma, which was built in 1830s by the daughter of Isaac Shelby, the state’s first governor and namesake of Shelby County.

By Lisa King

In restoring their 182-year-old home near Eminence they bought in 1983, Lawrence and Sherry Jelsma have kept almost all of its original features, and the effect is startlingly akin to being transported back in time.


One can almost see the women with their long skirts sweeping the floor and hear the clop of horses' hooves along the brick walkway that still graces the front of the stately old brick home.

"I love the herb garden; I guess it's as old as the house is," Sherry Jelsma said, gazing out over the large, manicured garden, surrounded by hedges and flowering trees and dotted with benches and newly bloomed tulips.

The house sits on a slight rise at the end of a long gravel driveway, on immaculately kept grounds, with 500 acres of pasture and crop land.

The house features a wealth of handsome woodwork.

The floor in the east parlor is of ash, highly polished.  The front door, with its walnut frame and intricate panels of poplar, features small, arched windowpanes on top, characteristic of Federal architecture.

A matching door leads from the foyer into the hallway that gives access to the kitchen, sunroom and second-story staircase.

In the dining room, originally called the west parlor, a portrait of Letitia Shelby Todd, youngest daughter of Isaac Shelby, the first governor of Kentucky, hangs over the mantel. Gov. Shelby had left Todd the land when he died in 1826, and she and her husband, Col. Charles Stewart Todd, built this house.

The dining room’s floors are made of chestnut, and each side of the room features elaborately constructed cupboards of an exquisite dark wood that have cabinet-like doors that resemble the shutters on a house when they are closed.

The kitchen, like all the bedrooms and the parlors, has an original, working fireplace.

All the rooms have high ceilings and are extremely spacious.

After showing a visitor through their home, the Jelsmas sat down in armchairs before the fireplace in the east parlor.

"This is where William Henry Harrison sat and warmed his feet when he visited Col. Todd here just after being elected president," Sherry Jelsma said.


Inside stuff

Address:5244 Eminence Pike
Owners:Lawrence and Sherry Jelsma

Statistics:2 stories, 13 rooms, 6 working fireplaces

Architecture:Federal style

Built:1830 by Charles Stewart Todd, who was the son of Kentucky’s first chief justice.

Accoutrements:The property had a working dairy operation from 1940 to 2011. When the Jelsmas bought the property in 1983, they kept and operated the dairy before selling the acreage containing the dairy last year, leaving them with their current 500 acres.