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A home for more than 200 years

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Allen Dale Farm has been battled over in lawsuits, but one family has owned the property for its two centuries, with the last 110 in the big stone main house on Zaring Mill Road.

By Todd Martin

Built in 1904 to replace the original structure that had burned, the home at Allen Dale Farm is a testament to an enduring family.

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“I doubt if any farm in Shelby County has had a longer tenure in any one family,” said Ronald Van Stockum, who has written a book on the home, Kentucky and the Bourbons, The Store of Allen Dale Farm. “Allen Dale Farm was established in 1795 by Robert Polk Allen, son of Major John Allen from Virginia. Despite landmark [law] suits involving the title, it has remained in the hands of the Allen descendants without break. Reggie’s [Van Stockum, Ronald Van Stockum’s son] direct ancestor, Ann Allen, widow of Major Allen, is buried on the property.”

The English manor style home that stands today is built from limestone that was quarried from the farm, and it along with a dairy barn, a feed/stock barn known as the tile barn, smokehouse and boarding house since 1983 have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built for J.W. Henning Jr. by L.H. Gruber & Son the home has withstood the test of time.

The thick rock walls and clever design from the early 1900s keeps the home cool enough throughout much of the summer to alleviate the need for air conditioning.

“The fieldstone on the house keeps it cool, as does the cross ventilation and large windows, thus decreasing the need for AC,” Cheryl Van Stockum said. “We do have two propane furnaces and fireplaces for heat.”

The property was deeded to Ronald Van Stockum’s wife, Susanne, from her mother, Susanne Henning, Marquise de Charette, in 1964 and she moved with her family to the farm in 1970, upon her mother’s death.

And the home continues to reside in the family, but has grown into much more.

“Reggie says this house smiles when guests are here,” said Cheryl Van Stockum, who married Reggie in 2007 and moved to the farm. Her husband uses one wing as an office for his law practice.

She noted that the home and farm have played host to numerous parties, weddings, family reunions, a lecture series and welcomes the Young Leaders each year for a history lesson with Ronald Van Stockum.

“We enjoy the privacy and simplicity of our lifestyle, but we are the happiest when we have family and friends in our home,” she said.

Although it is suited to host family dinners on the porch as well as large fundraisers for the Community Theatre, Cheryl Van Stockum points to the farm as a gem as worthy as the home.

“While the house is indeed magnificent, it is such a small part of the story of this amazing farm,” she said. “We hike the woods, camp overlooking the fields, wade in the creek and take many a moonlight walk. I am graced to call this place my home, and to live here with two of the most respected men I know. Reggie and his father are excellent stewards of the land and custodians of history.”