Front Page History: Edna Toliver’s childhood home sold 12 years ago

Published 7:45 pm Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Edna Toliver is a name most Danville residents recognize and associate with the Edna L. Toliver Elementary School, recently renamed Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School.

She was a Danville native and educated hundreds of children throughout her long teaching career.

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Her childhood home, located at 637 North Third St., sold on the courthouse steps on Dec. 5, 2006, in a master commissioner’s sale for $215,000. The Advocate-Messenger reported on the sale on this page 12 years ago today.

The home had belonged to Eric James, who was a retired California real estate broker and bought the famed house in ‘04, with the hopes of returning it to its full circa 1900 glory.

James was passionate about the house and hoped the next owners would care about its history as much as he did. According to The Advocate-Messenger, James said he had invested $70,000 but then ran out of money. “The money kept flowing out until there was no money left to flow,” he said.

The bank holding the mortgage forced the sale of the house after he had failed to make payments. The bank put up the opening bid and no one else made an offer. James said it would take about a year for the property to be ready to put on the market again.

His interest in the house stemmed from his own family tree — he said he was distantly related to the infamous Jesse James, as was the Toliver family.

James’ idea was to restore the house while at the same time write a book about the James’ family connections with Kentucky. He said he had hoped to not only preserve a local historic home, but also have it become a tourist destination. He said, “My original thought was to fix it up, live in it and when I passed, I’d make arrangements for it to go to a non-profit.”

The two-story Victorian house was built around 1900 by Edna Toliver’s parents, Thomas Stratton and Margaret Sallee Lanier, and still had many of its original fixtures, including the old gas lamps in the bedrooms.

Toliver grew up to be a teacher and principal in Danville and was the first principal at Maple Avenue School when it opened in 1930. It was Toliver Elementary in 1959.

In 2006, James said he was worried that the next owners would turn the house into apartments or worse, have it dismantled and sell it piece by piece.

He said the tiles that surrounded each of the house’s four fireplaces were worth $25 each, as were the old, ornate door hinges.

“Right now, if you take the house apart, it’s worth more than it is whole,” James said. “This house deserves to be preserved. Part of Danville’s heart is in this house. People came in here and were educated by Edna Toliver in this very room. I hope that if people knew Edna Toliver’s home was a risk, they’d be concerned.”

In other news, a ground-breaking ceremony for the new city parking garage was held. The garage was named the Alex W. Stevens Intermodal Parking and Transit Facility, and was going to be built at the corner of Third and Walnut streets.

The groups involved with making the parking structure a reality included the city of Danville, Heart of Danville, Governor’s Office for Local Development, federal and state transportation cabinets, Blue Grass Community Action Agency, Third Street Development Corp., state and federal legislators, Kentucky Heritage Council, Central Kentucky Ambulatory Surgery Center, Farmers National Bank, Land Real, Ephraim McDowell Health, Bravura Architects, FRA Engineering and Messer Construction.

The parking structure was planned to have more than 162,000 square feet and 375 parking spaces, including 105 public parking spaces. Cost was estimated at more than $6.6 million.