Story by K.G. Anderson
Photography by Amanda Cross
Historic Jefferson Street brings a sense of awe and envy to the many who drive down it, especially visitors to Paducah.
Sometimes I can't help but picture the trolley clinking down the street where the boulevard is now. Grand old homes line both sides of the long avenue. I can imagine elegant ladies fanning themselves while enjoying a tall glass of lemonade on one of the massive porches. That is why getting a glimpse into one of these homes is a special treat.
Beyond one of the deeply shaded front porches, you can find Patt Lynch playing his beautifully rebuilt 1928 grand piano, a high school graduation gift from his family. When he is not volunteering at the Community Kitchen, this retired Paducah City School music teacher continues to teach piano and voice at his Jefferson Street home.
The house was built circa 1910 by a local doctor affiliated with the old ICC Railroad Hospital (the Katterjohn Building) located across the street. It is a four-square home, in the same massive brick style as most of the surrounding homes. The first floor was underwater during the 1937 flood, but the upstairs still has the original intricately laid wood floors. One unique feature upstairs is the European style split bath. Another is the skylight area over the kitchen. Leaded beveled windows and cast iron radiators remain throughout the house, adding to its historic feel.
He purchased the house over 10 years ago after wanting to downsize from his Lowertown home.
"Living on Jefferson Street gives you both a Midtown and downtown inner city feeling. You feel the eclectic mix of people and culture along with a sense of neighborhood," stated Patt.
That musician's "love of the eclectic" can be seen throughout his home. One unique item is a Korean stacked chest with a framed Cambodian temple rubbing hanging above. Patt also has a variety of African masks and wall hangings, as well as a collection of old aluminum coffee pots, carved monkeys, birdhouses and music memorabilia along with an assortment of souvenirs from travels, which reflect Patt's sense of whimsy.
His family heirlooms add personal history. Sitting next to his grandmother's dry sink is his great-great-grandmother's spinning wheel. Patt recalls playing "ship captain" with the wheel as a little boy as he looked over her stair bannister and out the window.
Two early 19th century, hand painted Chinoiserie Queen Anne chairs sit next to his grandfather's rolltop desk. Framed advertisements from 1910 and a 1905 French gauche graphic poster grace the upstairs walls of the house, along with a special hand-carved framed mirror. They all come with a story. A small oxblood leather wingback chair received from his grandmother on his 16th birthday is a favorite remembrance.
"Now, I know you're excited about getting a driver's license, but every young man also needs a good chair to encourage good reading and study habits," Patt recalls his grandmother saying. Next to the chair is an empire styled footstool that Patt had upholstered with official Canadian maple leaf tartan plaid that he purchased while on vacation in Nova Scotia.
When walking into the kitchen you feel like you are entering into the art deco era. The white cabinets are complemented by Patt's favorite lights, which hang in front of them.
Smiling fondly at the fixtures, he said, "These 1930 Manhattan Glass light fixtures came from a men's clothing store in Mayfield and have hung in all three of my homes."
When standing in his kitchen, it doesn't take long to notice the secret oasis that lies behind the house. His two rambunctious and beloved dogs, Isaac and Vic, can't wait for us to open the door to his fenced-in backyard hideaway. The in-ground pool was a deciding feature for Patt when looking at the house.
His love of gardening has created a downtown island paradise few would expect is there.
Well-maintained flower gardens, two small vegetable gardens and a trumpet vine covered arbor in full bloom which is begging to be walked under add to the island feel of the backyard. Impressively huge elephant ear plants and banana trees transport you to that island.
Appreciative hummingbirds that flitter around you and the tinkle of the spray in the pool make you forget that you are only a few yards from one of the busiest streets in Paducah.
All we need now is a tall glass of lemonade as we lounge around the pool, hidden away from others cruising down historic Jefferson Street. n