Immediately recognizable by its white four-board fences and red-trimmed stables, Calumet Farm is one of the most notable and historic Thoroughbred breeding and training facilities in the Bluegrass Region. Calumet was founded in 1924 by the owner of Calumet Baking Powder, William Monroe Wright. The farm’s characteristic “devil red,” blue, and white color scheme, seen in its barns and on its racing silks, is based on the Calumet Baking Powder tin. Calumet holds the record for the most Kentucky Derby winners produced by a single farm.
The farm is made up of nearly 800 acres with dozens of buildings including residences, stables, barns, sheds, garages, and other outbuildings. The main house, located on the southwest corner of the property, is a two-and-one-half-story brick Classical Revival structure complete with columned portico and fanlight-capped doorway. The defining architecture of the farm are its many stables and barns, most of which were built in the 1980s, that are consistent in both form and style and have created the defining image of the Kentucky horse farm.
The barns are long side-gabled structures, often symmetrical, with rows of square windows punctuating the elevations and front-gabled dormers piercing the roofs. Many of the barns also feature distinctive square or octagonal cupolas. All of the barns are painted white, with green metal roofs and red trim around rooflines, corners, and windows.
The barns’ white four-board fences are as much a part of Calumet’s image as the buildings. The white paint requires more upkeep and cost than the black asphalt that covers many of the other fences in the area; however, Calumet’s white fences have remained a consistent part of their corner of the Bluegrass landscape.
In 1992, Calumet filed for bankruptcy. The farm was put up for auction and purchased by businessman Henryk de Kwiatkowski, who brought the farm back to modest success as a boarding and consignment facility. Today the farm is owned by a trust, which leases the farm to horseman Brad Kelley.
Calumet is not open to the public, but much of the farm is readily visible from the surrounding roads: Versailles Road to the south, Van Meter Road to the west, and Alexandria Drive to the northeast. The best view of the farm may still be the view from above, in a plane approaching or departing Blue Grass Airport.
Auerbach, Anne Hagedorn. Wild Ride: The Rise and Fall of Calumet Farm, Inc., America’s Premier Racing Dynasty. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1994.
Carfagno, Jacqueline. “The Rise and Fall of Calumet Farm.” The Seattle Times, March 29, 1992.
“Horse farms don’t fit image: White fences exist mainly on postcards.” Daily News(Bowling Green, KY), April 29, 1985.