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Farmington, Home of Joshua Speed
© Abraham Lincoln Online


3033 Bardstown Road
Louisville, Kentucky

This restored brick Federalist style mansion was the childhood home of Joshua Fry Speed, considered to be Abraham Lincoln's closest friend. His parents, John and Lucy Speed, built the house in 1816 (several years after Lincoln was born) with plans that resembled Thomas Jefferson's architectural designs. The building 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 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."

Hours: Farmington is open Tuesday through Friday and Saturdays by appointment. Admission is charged. The house is conveniently located just northeast of Bardstown Road and I-264, but finding the entrance is a bit tricky. For more information call 502/452-9920.

Related Reading
Speed, Joshua Fry, Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln. Louisville, Kentucky: John P. Morton and Company, 1884 (reprinted 1994).

Related Link
Farmington (Historic Homes Foundation)

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