Covington, Kentucky

Historic Amos Shinkle Bed & Breakfast Sold, to Become Family Residence

Over the course of its 158-year history, one historic building on Covington's Garrard Street was home to at least two of the city's most recognizable citizens. Constructed in 1854 for entrepreneur and civic leader Amos Sinkle and his family, the townhouse later became a bed & breakfast owned and operated by Covington Mayor Bernie Moorman. The property, after being on the market for more than a year, sold this week and will be renovated for use as a single-family home. A local business executive and community stakeholder will move his family there when the work is completed.

The lot upon which the tall, Italianate brick townhouse sits was purchased by Shinkle in 1847 when he first moved to Covington from Brown County, Ohio. The home was built seven years later and was the Shinkles' home for about a dozen years. Shinkle's legacy in the City of Covington is so deep that much of what we know about it probably would not be without him. In fact, the region's most recognizable landmark would likely not be had it not been for Shinkle.  The Kentucky Legislature created the Cincinnati & Covington Bridge Company in 1846 but, according to a 1992 biographical note on Shinkle, was getting nowhere. Shinkle became a major stockholder in the the company in 1856 and by 1864 became its president. 

Through his efforts at salvaging the long-desired bridge that would be the first to span the Ohio River at Cincinnati and to become a significant piece of Covington's nineteenth century development, Shinkle also saw the Bridge Company collect serious revenue through tolls. The John Roebling Suspension Bridge is still an important connection between two cities and states and is one of the most noteworthy symbols of the region.

While leading the bridge effort, Shinkle also served on the Covington City Council. He had already made a fortune through the coal company he founded, Shinkle also served on the school board and was instrumental in the construction of three of the city's Methodist churches. He built the city's first Protestant orphange on Madison Avenue and after his death, some of his fortune went toward building what is now the Children's Home of Northern Kentucky in Devou Park.

The Townhouse on Garrard that still bears his name was not Shinkle's final home in the city, however. He and his wife later constructed a sprawling mansion on Second Street that was later donated to the Salvation Army. That glorious home was torn down in the 1930s on the site where the Booth Memorial Hospital was built. 

A century later another prominent Covington citizen took his turn in the historic townhouse. Bernie Moorman served three terms on the Covington City Commission before serving as mayor from 1980-1983. He also spent thirteen years as a Kenton County Commissioner and filled an unexpired term on the city commission in 2004-2005. He and his life partner Don Nash completed a restoration of the Shinkle Townhouse in 1988 and operated it as a bed & breakfast. The pair filled the home with antiques from another historic Covington home, the Laidley House on Second Street.

The bed & breakfast had seven rooms and attracted many regular patrons over the years. The property boasts fifteen-and-a-half foot ceilings on each of its floors and a recessed front vestibule with deep six-over-six windows. The home is filled with delicate, triple banded cornice moldings that compliment the octagonal newel post at the base of the dramatically long main staircase. 

The two story stable along Sanford alley remains in tact. It was noted on the 1877 map and it is believed an addition was incorporated early on, as can be seen by the seam.
 
Like Shinkle, Moorman was active outside of city politics. He was a frequent church-goer and was a member of St. Benedict Parish and Mother of God. He also served on the board of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption. He was also a strong supporter of the arts. After Nash died and when Moorman's health began to decline, he hoped to see the property used by the Kenton County Historical Society, according to an obituary. The bed & breakfast was shuttered just before Moorman died at the age of 73 inside the Shinkle Townhouse.
 
Like so many other historic Covington properties, this 1854 masterpiece is slated for a second life with a new family moving in after a massive renovation.
 
Covington real estate agent Rebecca Weber handled the sale of the property and contributed to this report. Written by Michael Monks.
 
PHOTO: The Amos Shinkle Townhouse