Buena Vista


“The Todd summer home was a tall, rambling frame house surrounded by large locust trees, situated on a beautiful knoll a quarter of a mile from the highway.” — William H. Townsend


Buena Vista had an eventful history. It began as a get-away summer house for the Todds but later became the principal family residence.


In 1826, a year after the death of Mary Todd’s mother, Eliza (Parker) Todd, her father, Robert S. Todd, married Elizabeth L. Humphreys. In 1830, Elizabeth’s uncle, James Brown, sold to her brother, David C. Humphreys, 162 acres on the Frankfort Pike about eighteen miles west of Lexington. Sometime in the 1830s–40s Robert Todd built Buena Vista, a two-story frame house, as a family summer home on this property. Mary Todd visited Buena Vista frequently as a child. Elizabeth managed the property with her brother, David, rather than with her husband. Evidently the property remained in the Humphreys family.


As a summer home, Buena Vista was the site of important comings and goings. During their month-long visit to Lexington in 1847, for example, the Lincolns visited the Todd family at Buena Vista. But significant change came quickly. Robert Todd died in 1849. In 1851, Lincoln returned to Lexington with his family to deal with a lawsuit over the Todd estate. As a result of this lawsuit, the entire estate was liquidated and the proceeds distributed to the heirs. So Elizabeth Todd could not save the Lexington home and was forced to move to Buena Vista with her children. In 1859, David and Elizabeth Humphreys sold Buena Vista.


Over the years, the property was sold several times until in 1888 the “Todd Farm,” as it was referred to in the deed books, was reduced to around sixty acres. The house was razed in 1947; only part of the stone springhouse remains.


Buena Vista, the summer home of Robert S. Todd, on Leestown Pike six miles from Frankfort, ca. 1930

Kentucky Historical Society Collections