Unlike previous Greek Revival I-Houses, the Stramcke House is an asymmetrical two-and-a-half-story Queen Anne-Eastlake style frame home most likely designed by renowned local architect W.S. Epperson and built under the direction Thomas Talbot Stramcke circa 1887. Family tradition notes that Thomas Stramcke most likely was influenced by the Queen Anne-Eastlake style home he saw in St. Louis while visiting his in-laws. The Stramcke House is considered the most elegant and detailed of the Queen Anne-Eastlake style homes in Lafayette County. The home includes a three-story tower with conical roof, a veranda that warps around the front of the home, and fully bracketed cornice work along the roofline. According to Thomas and Rebecca’s grandson, Edward Aull, Jr., the wood frame of the house was apparently constructed using screws instead of nails. Original outbuildings have since been razed. The interior is richly designed, with oak, walnut, pine, and other locally resourced woods decorating the interior. Despite the irregular footprint of the building, the first floor consists of a reception hall, living room adjoined by the tower, a dining room, library/study, and kitchen. The second-floor houses four bedrooms, a dressing room, and bathroom. Additional embellishments include transom windows over most interior doors, seven ornate fireplaces with mantels that heated the home, built in alcoves, four sets of pocket doors and others. The house was often referred to as “The Cedars” due to the numerous cedar trees that aligned the driveway and surrounded the house. Today, despite modern accommodations such as water, electricity, and HVAC, the home remains true to its original design.
Thomas Talbot Stramcke, born in 1846, was the only surviving son of Samuel Benjamin Stramcke and Anna West Smith. Samuel Stramcke was born in New York and, along with his wife Anna, of Lexington, Kentucky, made their way to Lafayette County in the years before Thomas’s birth. Despite being from the north, Samuel Stramcke was an enslaver and a strong supporter of the Confederacy. The elder Stramcke was a successful businessman whose skills allowed him to amass wealth through land speculation and as a merchant. He also founded the first newspaper in Lexington, the Express in 1839. According to tax records, in 1871 Samuel Stramcke owned 31 different properties valued at $34,500. As the sole heir, Thomas Stramcke acquired considerable wealth from his father.
Thomas Stramcke married his wife Rebecca Walton Smithers, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, on December 14, 1869. Shortly thereafter, the two moved to the 370-acre family farm outside of Lexington where they lived in a two-story weatherboarded log house. Edward Aull Jr. indicated that his grandmother had a difficult time adapting to life in the country. After the Queen Anne-Eastlake house was built, the Stramcke’s demolished the log house. Stramcke followed in his father’s footsteps and engaged in the real estate business and later coal mining, which became a popular venture around Lexington around the turn of the century. As a prominent member of the Lexington community, Thomas’s business and social activities were often noted in Lexington newspapers. In 1884, The Lexington Intelligencer reported that he had been “very much ill with cerebro [sic] spinal meningitis, [but] is much better.” He was also known to place several advertisements for items wanted, as seen in the example provided within the images. Thomas and Rebecca lived in the Queen Anne-Eastlake home until all five of their children had grown to adulthood, when the two moved to Lexington.