The History of Ernst Mansion

The Ernst Mansion is a historic building located at 405 Garrard in Covington, Kentucky. The mansion has a rich history that dates to 1877 when Charles Wallace owned the land. M.M. Benton later owned it and most likely built the house originally, and possibly even used it as a boarding house for a short while. In the 1880s, William Ernst, father of Senator Richard Ernst, purchased the residence, though it does not seem that he ever lived there. William Ernst was a prominent figure in the city of Covington and served as a member of the city council and as the president of the Kentucky Central Railroad.

William Ernst was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on December 9, 1813, near Doylestown, and died in Covington on October 9, 1895. In 1824, Ernst and his family moved to a farm near Lancaster, where he attended school in the city during the winter months while working on the farm. In 1830, he moved to Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and began working for his father in coal mining and merchandising. Ernst started his journey to the western part of the country in November 1834, with Circleville, Ohio as his objective. While waiting for a rise in the river at Pittsburgh, he met Major John Tilford, a merchant and president of the branch of the United States Bank at Lexington, Kentucky, and James Saul, Esq., cashier of the Farmer’s and Mechanic’s Bank of Kentucky. Tilford and Saul influenced Ernst’s life and business endeavors in the future.

Richard Ernst, the Son of William Ernst and the main owner of 405 Garrard St, was born on Feb 28th, 1858.

in Asheville, North Carolina William Ernst has two living children. Delle Ernst and Susanise Ernst. Mr. Ernst received his academic education at the Chickering Institute, Cincinnati, Ohio. He then spent four years at Centre College, Danville, Kentucky, from which he graduated in 1878 as Valedictorian of his class. He spent two years at the Law School of the University of Cincinnati, graduating there in 1850 During his last year at the Law School and for years thereafter, he was with the firm of King. Thompson & Maxwell, and later became a member of the firm. He was admitted to the bar in Kentucky. He married to Susan Brent, the daughter of Hugh Taylor Brent and Carrie Rowell Brent. on 28th day of September. 1886. at Covington, Kentucky and had 2 children: William Ernst and Mrs. Sarah Ernst Darnall

in Cincinnati, Covington, Newport, and adjoining towns in Kentucky, He has always taken a deep interest in educational matters. He was a Trustee and member of the Executive Committee of Centre College, Danville, Kentucky, and of the University of Kentucky, as well as of Pikeville College. He is also Trustee and member of the Executive Committee of the Western College for Women at Oxford, Ohio. He has always taken a great interest in the Public Schools of the State, and has long favored an increase of salary for teachers in public schools, and for professors in colleges and universities.

The mountain schools of Kentucky have especially appealed to him and have received his active support. He was actively engaged in every form of War Work, and gave continuously of his labor, time and money,

His only son, William Ernst, entered the Army as a private during the Mexican trouble, later passed the Regular Army examination at Washington and became a Second Lieutenant. When the Armistice was signed, he was serving at the Front as Captain in the Regular Army. Mr. Ernst’s son in law, Darnall, of Flemingsburg. Kentucky, volunteered as a private.

Richard Ernst, was a man of strong religious convictions and was a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church. He actively participated in the religious community and was a member of several organizations and benevolent societies. The mansion played an important role in Covington’s history, and its owners were prominent figures in the city’s development. The building has gone through several owners and transformations over the years, from being a private residence to a hotel. Despite the changes, the Ernst Mansion remains a significant landmark in Covington’s history.

He is known for giving an Greek type open air theatre to Western College for women, giving the first 100 acres to Camp Ernst in Union, Ky., and help give one of the first donations to the YMCA in Covington, Ky.

By 1935, Ernst still owned the mansion, but in the 1940s, it was bought by new owners who turned it into a hotel. In 1936-37, the mansion was vacant, and by 1940-41, Patrick M. Flannery was the owner of the hotel.


– Carruthers, who may have been a house guest, died at the house in 1904.

– The building was initially located at 401 Garrard in 1908-09 before being moved to its present location at 405 Garrard.

– Supposedly Theodore Roosevelt stayed in the house at least one night.

– There was supposedly a large fountain in the solarium where we now have a floor mural.

– William Ernst bought the house from M.M. Benton for $14,250 before or during 1883.

To be continued…