Historic Structures

Beechwood - Isaac Kinsey House, Milton Indiana

Date added: November 20, 2020 Categories: Indiana House Mansion

The Kinsey house and farm complex were constructed during 1871-73, and designed by Richmond architect Joel Stover, his only known extant work in Indiana. The two-story High Victorian Italianate residence is distinguished "by polygonal side hays, and an ornamental entry porch, delicately detailed in wrought-iron, with a main doorway completely framed by an arch of square stone blocks with beveled edges and embossed panels. Articulating the hip roof is a deep denticulated cornice braced with elaborate decorative brackets. A rectangular cupola trimmed at the eaves with sheet-metal brackets and cresting crowns the main roof. The house is adjoined by a dairy house and smoke house, and eleven additional outbuildings stand on the property.

Isaac Kinsey (1821-1896) was a prominent farmer and industrialist in Wayne County during the second half of the 19th century. The eldest son and the fourth of nine children of Oliver and Sarah Kinsey, Isaac was born May 19, 1821 in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Kinsey's parents were Quaker farmers, and Isaac remained loyal to his heritage throughout his life. The family moved to Baltimore when he was a boy, where he worked with his father as a blacksmith. In 1835, the Kinsey family moved again to Wayne County, settling on a 200-acre farm on the west bank of the Whitewater Canal. Isaac worked as a clerk in a drygoods store between 1843 and 1845, moving to Cincinnati in 1845. His first job in Cincinnati was in a packing house slaughtering hogs, hut he left that job in 1846 to join his brother Thomas to establish a produce business. After six years, Isaac parted with his brother, returned to Indiana, and bought a 500-acre farm two miles south of Milton. Kinsey accumulated a substantial estate through his farming enterprises. He also held large investments in the Hoosier Drill Company In Milton, talc mining and marble quarrying in Georgia and North Carolina, he built the River Rolling Mills in Milton, as well as a two-story downtown commercial block. Kinsey married Mary P. Jones on September 25, 1847, daughter of Aquila and Ann Jones of Cincinnati. She died young, and he remarried Mary E. Griffith in 1892. Kinsey died intestate in 1898, and the Kinsey farm was subsequently sold at a public auction to Rufus Lindsay on March 18, 1898.

The main house as it exists today has retained much of its original character.

Isaac Kinsey was apparently known in the area for his comfortable style of living and for staying abreast of the most recent innovations in household conveniences. In an 1880 biography of Kinsey, the author enthusiastically describes his subject's well-furnished house:
The Kinseys "live in a most commodious and beautiful home, abundantly supplied with closets, cupboards and cozy recesses which so much delight the earts of good housekeepers. The dwelling is lighted with gas manufactured on the premises, and supplied with water raised by a wind pump, and heated by a furnace in the cellar. Considering the size and elegance, and completeness in all its appointments, it is an exception for a country dwelling. Added to all this is attached a conservatory of rare flowers and plants, which lend an air of taste and refinement to the surroundings."

Harper Wood Lindsay, the owner from 1921 to 1973, described in close detail to James Roschi, the owner in 1974, how the original heating and plumbing systems functioned. The water from the pump house tower, he explained, flowed to a tank in the attic of the second floor and the kitchen on the first. Another pipe was connected with a compartment in the kitchen next to the range, which heated the water for use in this room; the water also rose to the bathroom directly above the kitchen. The heating system, as described by Mr. Roschi, consisted of a large brick and sheet-metal furnace which heated air and dispersed it through a register in the front hallway. Individual rooms were warmed by fireplaces with cast-iron flues. The hot air flowing through the metal flues heated the air inside the chimney, and the hot air entered the room through a register.

The outbuildings have undergone the most change. A structure located southeast of the main house which originally served as servants' quarters was demolished in the 1960s, and a garage was erected on the site. Attached to the outbuilding which is closest to the house at the east, appearing in several early glass plate negatives, was a tall water tower used in the house's early plumbing system. The outbuilding remains, though the tower has been removed. Other original buildings which have since been demolished include the boat house, the ice house, the bee hives, the chicken house, the hog pen, the wood house, and the sheep house.

The two-story building with a rooftop cupola is L-shaped with polygonal bays on the north, east and west facades, and measures approximately 80' (front) x 60' deep.