History behind Rees House

Published 2:10 pm Thursday, December 30, 2021

By Harry Enoch/Contributor         The Rees House was located at the southwest corner of Main Street and Lexington Avenue in Winchester.
This could well be called “Hotel Corner,” as some form of hostelry stood here from early times. Peter Flanagan purchased original town lot No. 67 in 1801 and built a large log house where he established one of Winchester’s first taverns.

In 1814, Hay Taliaferro had acquired the property and opened the Winchester Hotel. Taliaferro announced in the Winchester Advertiser that he had “commenced keeping Tavern in the house formerly owned by Edmund Calloway.

This House is well situated, large and commodious, the Stable roomy, convenient, well furnished and well kept. His Bar shall be well supplied with all sorts of Liquors and his Table and Lodging accommodations such as to afford satisfaction to Travellers and Boarders.”

Starting in 1835, several proprietors operated the establishment as the National Hotel. Winchester E. Rees and his wife Anna acquired the property in 1866, and his family kept the Rees House—referred to as one the most famous hostelries in the state—until it closed in 1904. J. L. Brown and George M. Proctor demolished the three- story brick building and erected the Brown-Proctoria Hotel.

The new four-story hotel had walls surfaced with Indiana limestone on the first floor, granite brick on the upper floors, and was originally topped with an open cupola.

Picture legend: Rees House, 1889
Sources:
Winchester Advertiser, November 5, 1814
Winchester Sun-Sentinel, March 3 and April 7, 1904
Clark County Republican, December 29, 1916 and January 5, 1917
Clark County Deed Book 42:213
W. M. Beckner, Handbook of Clark County and the City of Winchester, Kentucky
(Chicago, 1889), p. 26 (includes an engraving of the Rees House)
Robert M. Polsgrove, Survey of Historic Sites in Kentucky: Clark County (Mt. Vernon,
IN, 1979), p. 173
Thomas D. Clark, Clark County, Kentucky, A History (Winchester, 1995), p. 278 (photo)
A. Goff Bedford, The Proud Land (Mt. Sterling, 1983), pp. 137-139, 157-159