The House’s History
In 1812, David Farnsley (1786-1833) purchased 100 acres along Cain Run Pike in Jefferson County, Kentucky. In anticipation of his marriage to Sarah Lewis “Sally” Meriwether (1794-1851), he constructed a one and one-half story log home. One year later, David and Sarah (a cousin to Meriwether Lewis), married. Between 1814 and 1831, the farm grew to be several hundred acres and 19 enslaved African Americans worked the farm and domestic compound. The couple raised seven children (Mary Rebecca Farnsley Lloyd, James Martin Farnsley, Catherine H. Farnsley, David Henry Martin Farnsley, William Joshua Farnsley, Martha Elizabeth Farnsley Williams, and Dr. David Albert Farnsley).
In 1832, they began construction of a two-story brick addition to the original log cabin. In 1833, at the age of 47, David died and was the first person buried in the family cemetery located in proximity to the House. Sarah later married Ebenezer Williams and the couple had two children (Leah Ann Williams Atmore and Sarah E. Williams Suit).
The house appears today much as it did in 1832 and incorporates architectural features associated with the late Colonial and early Greek Revival. The building assumes the footprint of an “I-house”, like nearby Farnsley-Moremen House constructed by David’s brother, Gabriel, in circa 1837.
In 1872, Bernard Kaufman (Coffman) purchased the house and 100 acres and operated a successful family farm into the 1900s.
In 1996, JCPS purchased the house with plans to demolish it in connection with the construction of the new Farnsley Middle School. To prevent the demolition, a group of local citizens formed the Friends of the David Farnsley House (DBA The Friends of the Farnsley-Kaufman House) to preserve the House, outbuildings, and nearby cemetery. A hand-hewn poplar log barn which originally stood 150 yards southwest of the House was leveled but the House and outbuildings are now protected with a preservation easement. In 1983, the House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Since 1997, The Friends of the Farnsley Kaufman House, a 501 (c) 3, formed a Board of Directors have done many necessary repairs to the House. The group has periodically offered programming and events to engage students and the local community and recently completed a strategic plan with a focus on fundraising, communication, volunteer recruitment, and educational programming.
The Friends group is currently engaged in a comprehensive campaign to raise the necessary funds to fully restore the exterior and interior of the home, outbuildings, and landscaping and to engage vocational education students in this skilled preservation and restorative work. We also envision ways in which to develop the House as an educational laboratory where we can offer relevant educational and community programs and forge partnerships with other local groups and schools. We invite you to join us in this campaign and support our mission and vision with your volunteer time, financial support, and ideas.
The House is open for private tours by appointment.
A Timeline of Events
James Farnsley, a Revolutionary War veteran, brought his family to Louisville from Pennsylvania.
1812 – 1814
James’ oldest son, David, built the log house and barn.
David married Sarah “Sally” Lewis Meriwether, a cousin of Meriwether Lewis.
David and Sarah contracted for a brick addition to the log house, with Ebenezer Williams as a supervising carpenter.
David died January 16 and Sally married Ebenezer Williams on September 3.
David and Sally’s daughter, Martha, married George Williams and the younger couple took over the farm.
Bernard Kaufman purchased the farm and house from the Williams Family.
1875 – 1950s
The Kaufman family added various outbuildings to the farm.
The Jefferson County Public School System acquired the property.
A group of citizens formed The Friends of the Farnsley-Kaufman House and began restoration work.
2002 – Present
The National Park Service awarded the Friends group a prestigious Save America’s Treasures grant allowing significant preservation efforts to continue.