Built on 13 acres in the early 1840’s, the Greek Revival mansion now known as “Mission House” was established on the foundation of an earlier home on the site, built in 1815. John Brand built the house as a wedding present for his oldest son, William Moses Brand, upon William’s marriage to Harriet Williman Holley. Frederick Law Olmstead, the famous architect of Central Park and the Biltmore estate, designed the landscaping.
After a minor fire at the beginning of the last century, Dr. David Barrow bought the house in 1905 and remodeled it into one of Lexington’s best houses for social engagements. It was preserved and maintained by Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Simpson for the majority of the last century. Mr. Simpson was a direct descendant of Henry Clay, and a great deal of Mr. Clay’s house furnishings were seen here.
New owners purchased the building and its 19th-century coach house in 1975, at which time the building was again restored. Restoration was in process during the successful 1976 application for an entry on the National Register of Historic Places. (Copies of this application are available from the Diocese.)
During the late twentieth century the house was subdivided into apartments, and the first floor was rented for family gatherings and receptions. In the late 1990s the building remained structurally intact, but it fell into a state of disrepair and was largely vacant.