Vacant for years, former governor's home is about to get new life

John W. Stevenson had a long career in politics and government in the fractious years before, during, and after the Civil War. He was a county attorney for Kenton County, a Kentucky state legislator, a U.S. congressman, the governor of Kentucky, and a U.S. senator.

Born and educated in Virginia, he traveled west to make his name, first to Mississippi, and ultimately to Covington, where he started a law practice that led to his career in politics, and settled in his home at 314 Greenup St.

In the century-plus since Stevenson’s death, his former home has been through a variety of incarnations, but for the last few years has sat vacant. It’s about to get new life as Governors House Wine Bar + Kitchen.

The owners of Blinkers Tavern steakhouse next door, Sandy Meyer and Gary Ginn, are planning to open the restaurant and bar sometime this summer, perhaps by July 4, says Mark Carlotta, the general manager of Blinkers.

The owners recently received a $6,000 forgivable loan from the city of Covington to be put toward $122,700 in exterior improvements to the old governor’s homestead.

The exterior work includes a new floating deck with up-lighting, a stamped-paver patio, rebuilt cornices, updated windows and doors, painting, and landscaping.

The features inside will include about 90 seats on two floors, a 22-foot-long bar with high-top seating, three fireplaces, and a separate kitchen serving large and small plates, Carlotta says.

“The building was sitting empty a good eight years or more, just looking lost, but now that we’ve painted it and done other work, it’s come to life,” Meyer says.

The former governor, who died in 1886 and is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, would, no doubt, approve.
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