The Farnsley-Moreman Landing, Kentucky
by Nellotie Porter Chastain
As I walk over the rise from the parking lot, I smell the damp scents from the deep waters of the Ohio River and my eyes feast on the beauty of the river and the far stretching field on the opposite side as it pushes into the mountain edge.
The beautiful Ohio flows past the perfect site for Riverside, the Farnsley-Moreman Landing, that was chosen in the early 1800s. The historic 300 acre farm and house is located along the banks of the Ohio River, in southwest Louisville, Kentucky.
The historic home, a red brick I-house with a two-story Greek Revival portico, was built in 1837 by Gabriel Farnsley. After Gabriel Farnsley purchased the property, he built the impressive home for his bride-to-be. Sadly, he was stood up at the altar, so he never married or had any offspring.
Farnsley died in 1849, leaving no will. His siblings, nieces and nephews fought for a dozen years over the estate. Twenty-one parties were involved in the bitter struggle.
In 1860, the Moremen family put down roots on the farm site when Alanson and Rachel Moremen and their seven children moved into the fine brick home. Their connection to the farm lasted for over 125 years.
The property served as a river transportation hub. The riverboat landing allowed travelers to stop and trade goods, pick up wood for fuel, or rest. The Moremen family nicknamed the landing “Soap Landing”, as they sold lye soap and other household and agricultural products there.
As I walk across the front lawn (the front of the house faces the river), I can almost feel and hear the swish of long skirts against deep-green grass and the sounds of children playing under the trees. On either the lower or upper portico, I watch the long, heavy-laden barges being pushed up river. I imagine the shadow of long-ago flat boats and sternwheelers hugging the shore allowing modern tug boats to churn the water muddy as they deliver their precious cargo to places north and south of the now commercially unused landing.
Visiting the restored Riverside home, one’s imagination congers up the aromas that would have emanated from the summer kitchen, which is located behind the house proper. Rocking the churn back and forth, my mouth waters as I think about the sweet butter that would have melted over home made baking power biscuits baked to perfection in the wood-fed oven.
Each room has been restored to perfection, allowing visitors to experience visions of life from long ago as children played and babies were rocked in front of warm fireplaces that adorn each room.
The dining room was not only a place for the family to eat, but visitors were always welcome. An upstairs room, whose only entrance was stairs leading from the dining room, was available for travelers who possibly stopped at night time. The family remained undisturbed when the traveler’s room was in use.
The home sat empty and in severe disrepair after the great flood of 1937 when Jefferson County, Kentucky, experienced the worst flooding in recorded history. Visitors are amazed to stand on the porch, far up the hill from the river’s edge, and imagine six feet of water inside the home.
The summer garden still produces vegetables and herbs. Excavation is ongoing as bits and pieces of history are uncovered each year.
Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing is a wonderfully historic place to visit. A visitor’s center, which houses an auditorium, museum exhibits, and a store, is situated on the property.
After a tour of the home and most of the property, I sat and rested as I enjoyed lunch in the picnic pavilion. Gazing back over the property surrounding the home, faint apparitions of the long-ago family can be seen drifting in and out of the house and gardens.
History is never lost when we experience places like Riverside. When you visit, let history surround you as you leisurely walk through each room of the home. Enjoy each moment of your walk over the grounds, the gardens, and the landing, allowing people and pieces of history to whisper to you what life was like long ago on the banks of the Ohio River at Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing in southwest Louisville, Kentucky.
If You Go:
Riverside, the Farnsley-Moreman Landing is located southwest of downtown Louisville, KY along the banks of the Ohio River. The address is 7410 Moorman Road, Louisville, Ky 40272. Phone number is: (502) 935-6809. Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4:30 pm Sundays, 1 – 4:30 pm Tours begin at 10:30 am and occur every hour at half past the hour.
Admissions is: $6/Adults; $5/Seniors (60+); $3/Children (ages 6-12); Children 5 and Under are Free. Family Rate: $15.00 (2 Adults and up to 3 children under age 18)
WHEN to go: Spring, summer, and fall are the most pleasant times to visit. Plan on a leisurely time so you won’t miss anything.
WHAT to do: Visit four archaeological sites where you can unearth parts of history from the barn, brick kiln, wash house, and slave/tenant house. During the months of July through October, visitors can board a riverboat at the landing and enjoy a leisurely cruise along the Ohio. Take advantage of the educational programs that are available.
OTHER sites to visit while you are in the Louisville area
The Kentucky Derby (May 3)
The Louisville Slugger Stadium — home of the River Bats
The Louisville Slugger Museum
The Belle of Louisville
All photos by Nellotie Porter Chastain.
Nellotie Porter Chastain, writer and published author, resides in Mitchell, Indiana, along with her husband and family. Of particular interest and enjoyment to Chastain are the many historical sites that are available where visitors have the opportunity to walk through history.