The Abner Gaines Tavern, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, was likely built sometime around 1814.
A Brief History The Abner Gaines House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, was likely built sometime around 1814. On January 1, 1809, 192 acres was purchased by Gaines from Caleb Summers for $1,666.66. Then in November, 1813 Gaines purchased 200 acres from Thomas and Dinah Kennady for $1,810.30. From as early as c. 1795, Archibald Reid ran a tavern on this site, fronting what would become the Covington & Lexington Turnpike, and was active in the early formation of Boone County in 1798. James Mathews, the brother of Elizabeth Mathews Gaines, worked with Reid. The Abner Gaines family apparently resided at this location since their arrival in 1804. Abner Gaines was issued a tavern license in 1808, which indicates that a house was already standing by this time. The license allowed him "to keep a tavern at his dwelling house in the county of Boone...and provide in his said tavern good wholesome cleanly lodging and diet for travellers and stableage provender or paustrage for horses.." The license also stated that Abner "shall not suffer or permit any unlawful gaming in his house nor suffer any person to tipple or drink more than is necessary or at any time suffer any disorderly or scandalous behavior to be practiced in his house." The license was renewed every year or two until December 1818. In 1813, Abner purchased the land "where he now resides", leading to speculation that this grand home may have not been constructed until c. 1814. The community around the house became known as Gaines Cross Roads, and a United States Post Office was established here in 1815 with Abner’s son, James M. Gaines, as the Postmaster. The town of Walton, just south of Gaines, was not officially established until 1840. In 1818, Abner Gaines began the first stagecoach line between Cincinnati and Lexington, which made one round trip weekly. The trip took over 24 hours, and the Gaines House may have been a lengthy meal and rest stop. Although it is unknown how long the stagecoach line ran, the house continued to be utilized as a tavern and inn for many years. It was sold out of the Gaines family to Dr. Elijah Smith Clarkson in 1844, and a c. 1897 newspaper article discussed the possibility of the house being razed. More research is necessary to discover why it was spared, but the house was used as an inn, a barn, apartments, and finally to house the antique collections of John Gault, who bought it in 1937. The outbuildings were apparently constructed by the Gault's to help house the growing business, including a fine collection of vintage cars.