With a shovel in hand, surrounded by family, friends and community officials, Joy Swope said, “Let’s break this new ground.”
The group was gathered Wednesday afternoon under a white tent, shaded from the bright sun, for the groundbreaking of The House on Helm.
The home, which many know as the H.T. Bird Historic Home or the Benjamin Helm Home, was purchased in 2017 by Swope and her husband, Scott Galey. Soon after, the couple and their children relocated to Elizabethtown from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Swope had a dream of turning it into a premiere party and event venue and she’s doing just that. Wednesday’s event announced the start of the home’s restoration. She said they never imagined it would take two years to get started, but they are thrilled to breathe new life into a historic location.
The house was built by Maj. Benjamin and Mary Helm and was their home from 1812 until 1858. The plantation-style residence was built in Flemish Bond pattern, which was a sign of affluence in early homes because of the extra amount of bricks used.
The home originally featured 11 rooms, each of 20 square feet. It also was equipped with a slave quarters and separate kitchen.
Charles and Julia Terry bought the home in 1894 and restored it after it had been used to store hay by previous owners. It remained in their family for five generations, each making their own unique changes to the home.
When she first walked the rooms of the home, Swope said she did not know any of its history. Not only was Helm a surveyor, banker, politician, entrepreneur and soldier, she said he and his wife were known as gracious entertainers.
“It is our hope that this home becomes not only a place where amazing celebrations take place and authentic lasting memories are made but a place where minds can open and hearts can expand. A place where we and the members of this community can do some good,” she said.
The contractor for the remodel is 310 Construction, comprising Wilkinson Builders and Realm Construction. The architect is K. Norman Berry Associates Architects, among whose accomplishments includes the Speed Art Museum in Louisville.
Both Galey and Swope thanked Swope’s parents, Bob and Jan Swope, for their support during the process.
“Thank you for helping us to see more. ... You opened our eyes to the possibilities. Thank you for encouraging our leap of faith and going out of your way to support this endeavor and, most importantly, thank you for showing us what hard work looks like,” he said.