Daniel Henry Holmes

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holmes castle

 

The Holmes Castle (click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


This is Holmes Castle.  It's also visible in a couple of the cards on the prior page. 

It was the summer home of Daniel Henry Holmes, who was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, on April 28, 1816. Both of his parents died when he was two years old, and he eventually became friends with the children of Eugene Lavassor.  The Lavassors were in the dry goods business, and also spoke French.  Holmes eventually was sent to New York by Lavassor to work at Lord and Taylors.  When Lord and Taylor, a few years later, opened a New Orleans store, Holmes, who spoke French as a result of the Lavassors, was an obvious candidate to run their store.  French was a dominant language in New Orleans at the time.

After several years in New Orleans, he opened his own department store in April of 1842, called the D. H. Holmes Department Store. It made him a rich man. There's a picture of the store here and here.

Not wanting to keep his family in the hot South in the summer, he built a summer home in Covington, on what is now the Holmes campus.  His original estate was called "Holmesdale," and more or less was bordered by Madison, 25th Street, the Licking River, and Lavassor Avenue.  He also had homes in New York City, New Orleans, and Tours, France.

Holmes died on July 3, 1898 in New York.  His body was sent to New Orleans to be buried in the family crypt, but disappeared.

The Castle was inherited by his son, Daniel Henry Holmes Junior, but was mostly ignored by him.  At the son's death, the daughter in law, Rachel Susanna Goff Holmes, sold 13 acres of the estate to the Covington School Board for $50,000.  A senior high building was started east of the castle in 1916, finished in 1919. A Junior high was built to the west in 1926.  And needing space for a cafeteria, offices and more classroom the Board elected to raze the castle.  It's contents were auctioned.  Everything that didn't sell was burned on the football field, and the building was demolished over Thanksgiving, 1936.

 

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If  you want to read more about Daniel Henry Holmes, you should know that the information here is a very short digest of a longer article, with many more pictures, by Betty Nordheim, on page 28 of the Northern Kentucky Heritage Magazine, in the Spring/Summer 1996 issue (Volume III, no. 2). The magazine is a publication of the Northern Kentucky Historical Society, which can be reached at:

Kenton County Historical Society
PO Box 641
Covington, Kentucky  41012