Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Farmington: Joshua Speed House, Jefferson County
Built in 1810 by John Speed from a Thomas Jefferson design, this Federal style house has 14 rooms, and twin octagon rooms. The house is furnished in period.
This restored brick Federalist style mansion was the childhood home of Joshua Fry Speed, considered to be Lincoln's closest friend. His parents, John and Lucy Speed, built the house in 1810 (the year after Lincoln was born) with plans from Thomas Jefferson. The architecture features typical Jeffersonian touches, with its classic symmetry and two octagonal rooms.
Joshua was born here in 1814, the fifth of ten children (including his older brother James, who became Lincoln's second Attorney General). Like scores of other Kentuckians, Joshua went into business in Springfield, Illinois. He recalled that Lincoln walked into his store on April 15, 1837, looking for bedding. "As I looked up at him I thought then, and think now, that I never saw a sadder face."
Joshua offered him free lodging above his store and their friendship flourished. After Joshua returned to Farmington, he invited Lincoln to visit in 1841. Lincoln's six-week stay was intended as an antidote for depression following his break-up with Mary Todd, who became his wife in 1842.
During Lincoln's visit, Joshua's mother Lucy gave him an Oxford Bible. Lincoln later wrote to Joshua's half sister Mary, "Tell your mother that I have not got her 'present' with me; but that I intend to read it regularly when I return home. I doubt not that it is really, as she says, the best cure for the 'Blues' could one but take it according to the truth."