The Oxmoor Farm: A Q&A from The Filson

By Mark V. Wetherington, PhD
Executive Director


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Springhouse at Oxmoor estate. Photograph, circa 1911. In 1991, The Filson learned that Thomas Bullitt designated The Filson as one of several beneficiaries in his will. Through the years, The Filson has studied the various uses of the Oxmoor property and its potential benefit to The Filson. The following information is presented to help our members understand more fully what this opportunity represents.

Did The Filson play any role in the development plan for Oxmoor that was recently announced?
No. A Maryland design firm called LDR International designed the concept for the farm at the request of the Oxmoor Trust.

What buildings located on the site will be under The Filsonís control?
The main house, slave quarters, spring house, hemp/managerís house, ice house, smokehouse, kitchen, farm managerís house, barn, and garage.

Aerial shot of Oxmoor estate taken prior to 1943.  The photograph shows the house (at center) with the wing additions and surrounding outbuildings.How much money is The Filson receiving now from the Oxmoor Trust?
A grant supports the work of one archivist, who is processing the Bullitt family papers, which are owned by the Oxmoor Trust.

Will The Filson eventually move its entire operations from Old Louisville to Oxmoor?
No. The Filson has maintained its headquarters in downtown/Old Louisville since its founding in 1884. The Filson is committed to remaining in Old Louisville, as reflected in its recent restoration of the Ferguson Mansion.  Since The Filson never holds title to property associated with Oxmoor and a preservation easement protects the 79-acre site from new construction, The Filson would not exercise good stewardship of the site or its own resources by building on the site.

Why would The Filson be interested in managing the preservation easement at Oxmoor if The Filson never owns land, buildings, Oxmoor-associated collections, or trust principal?
The site represents over two hundred years of family occupation in a single place. The buildings, family papers, objects, and landscape associated with Oxmoor Farm and the Bullitt family offer a tremendous resource for scholarship and learning about life in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Ohio Valley region from the 1780s until the present.

How will The Filson use Oxmoor Farm?
Leading scholars from across the nation have been involved in planning for Filson programs on the 79-acre preservation easement consisting of the main house, outbuildings, and grounds. The planning is ongoing.

 When will the Oxmoor land and Bullitt Trust money become available?
Not until the trust agreement begins at the death of Mrs. Thomas Bullitt. The Filson Board has six months to accept or reject the terms of the trust.

What does The Filson receive as one of the trustís beneficiaries?
The Filson will never own the land, buildings, collections, or trust principal associated with the 79-acre preservation easement. The Filson does have the right to use the easement for programs in perpetuity. The Filson also receives an annual payment of one-sixth of the overall trust income as designated in the will of Thomas Bullitt for approximately twenty-five years after the trust agreement begins, after which time The Filson will receive no additional funding from the trust.

Thomas W. Bullitt (1914-1991) Photograph, circa 1960.  Thomas was the last Bullitt decendent to live at Oxmoor.Does the Bullitt Trust agreement represent additional income for The Filson?
Only at the Oxmoor site. The Filson cannot use trust income to support its core functions as a historical society and research library in Old Louisville or to enlarge its present endowment. Trust funds can only be used for operations and programs at oxmoor. If the trust were to begin this year, approximately $400,000 in interest income would be available to The Filson for Oxmoor expenses. At this time, approximately $200,000 per year is spent by the trust for the maintenance and operation of the 79-acre site. Since trust payments will end in approximately twenty-five years, a portion of the income remaining after maintenance costs could be used to create a separate trust-controlled endowment for future Oxmoor operations, but this
endowment would not be owned by The Filson. After maintenance and endowment outlays, The Filson could easily end up with $100,000 or less annually to operate the 79-acre site in the short term.

Volume 3, Number 1

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