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A few years ago, we hosted a summit in Stanford with the leaders of several American charitable organizations to discuss common goals. While there, one man gave us words to express what we were trying to do in our headquarters town: “Stanford has Shalom and Human Flourishing like I’ve only seen in one other place in the world.”

Shalom is the Hebrew word for Peace. Human flourishing means positive emotional, psychological, spiritual, and social functioning. He paid us a rich compliment and gave us words to explain why we were renovating old structures and bringing hospitality businesses back into town.

Years ago, when I married my husband Jess and moved to his farm outside Stanford, I became fascinated with small-town life and reconnecting with my farming roots. After living in Lexington for nearly a decade, the way people viewed life in a small farming community was very different from the urban environment and workplace I had grown accustomed to.

About this same time, I began reading At Home in Mitford, a charming book full of characters I could identify with and felt like I knew from my own small-town experience in neighboring Danville. I devoured one book after another, following these characters through their humorous and poignant trials.

“[The Mitford Series] made me want to live in a town like Mitford because of the vibrant businesses and sense of community and place.”

Angela Correll, on downtown inspiration

The books did two things for me: first, they made me want to live in a town like fictional Mitford, North Carolina, because of the vibrant businesses, and sense of community and place; and second, they made me want to write characters who could reflect my own Kentucky community as Jan Karon did her North Carolina mountain experience.

The seeds of those two ideas began to germinate simultaneously. I signed up for creative writing classes around the same time we renovated an office downtown that I would use as an initial spot for my soap making business. A year later, an effort to save a landmark house in Stanford became our first guesthouse.

As I began writing, it became obvious I had much to learn. I stopped writing and took classes on how to write fiction, and soaked up everything I could. Once I finished classes and was ready to redraft the book, we made the decision to move our small soap making business into a retail shop on Main Street that carried other Kentucky products.

Bluebird restaurant in Stanford, KY

As the story of Grounded took shape, so did our small town. We added another guesthouse, and then three more over a period of years until we had five downtown. All along, we felt a restaurant was the missing link, but knew we needed the right partner.

As our downtown businesses were developing, our son went into the grass-fed cattle business and founded Marksbury Farm Market. Our food journey started with raising an organic garden and canning the produce. As our son Preston educated us on grass-fed meat, it provided us with an incentive for a restaurant that featured no-hormone, no-antibiotic pastured meat. With Marksbury providing a source for local protein, it made the jump into a restaurant easier.

Reading Kentucky writer Wendell Berry’s novels around the fictional town of Port William served as additional inspiration, not only for continuing our efforts in downtown but also for my continuation of the May Hollow Road series set around fictional Somerville, Kentucky.


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Stanford certainly inspired the town of Somerville. The name is a combination of my hometown of Danville, and Jess’ hometown of Somerset. Somerville is a small village the size of Stanford and in much the same geographic location, with all the culture of a farming community in the Bluegrass.



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We look at historic preservation as a form of stewardship. Our Victorian-era buildings were built with a great deal of time, money, and craftsmanship over 100 years ago, and we want to honor that work. John Ruskin says it best:

“They [buildings of past times] are not ours. They belong, partly to those who built them, and partly to all the generations of mankind who are to follow us. The dead have still their right in them: that which they laboured for, the praise of achievement or the expression of religious feeling, or whatsoever else it might be which in those buildings they intended to be permanent, we have no right to obliterate. What we have ourselves built, we are at liberty to throw down; but what other men gave their strength and wealth and life to accomplish, their right over does not pass away with their death; still less is the right to the use of what they have left vested in us only. It belongs to all their successors.”

John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture [1890]

However, our desire is also quite practical, as stated in the quote below by Arthur Frommer:

“Every study of travel motivations has shown that an interest in the achievements of the past is among the three major reasons why people travel. The other two are rest or recreation and the desire to view great natural sights… Among cities with no  particular recreational appeal, those that have substantially preserved their past continue to enjoy tourism. Those that haven’t receive no tourism at all. It’s as simple as that. Tourism does not go to a city that has lost its soul.”

Arthur Frommer, Preservation Forum [1988]

We hope you enjoy building on the past of this town with your own memories of special moments with friends and family.


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Design and Impact
Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce
2004 & 2012

Preservation Award
Boyle Landmark Trust

Barbara Hulette Award
Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation

Preservation Kentucky Linda Bruckheimer Award for Historic Preservation in a Rural Community