Former governor's residence in foreclosure

LEXINGTON, KY -- Cave Hill, the historic Lexington estate that once served as the state's temporary governor's mansion when John Y. Brown Jr. was in office, is in foreclosure and scheduled to be sold on July 27 at a Fayette County master commissioner sale, reports The Lexington Herald-Leader in its Sunday edition.

Bruce Fein, a Washington D.C. constitutional lawyer, and his wife, Mattie Fein, own the property. They bought Cave Hill from Brown in July 2006, for $1.9 million.

The 17-acre estate, the site of elegant parties while Brown was governor, has a 7,500-square-foot residence — the original portion was built in 1821 — pool, tennis courts, a three-bedroom guesthouse, putting green and horse barn.

The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"John bought that house for me, right after we got married, " said former First Lady Phyllis George. "It was my dream house. I wanted an old Southern mansion with big white columns."

In the past three years, the fortunes of the stately house and once immaculately groomed grounds have fallen on hard times. It is abandoned, neglected and a judge has ordered it be sold to pay the mortgage that the owners have defaulted on.

The historic mansion has been empty since it was purchased by the Feins, according to Mattie Fein. The couple put it back on the market in December 2006 for $2.45 million.

Glass in the back door has been broken out and trespassers jimmied the lock to get inside, said George, who has seen the mansion. Wood floors are warped from water damage. The recent ice storm left the lawn littered with broken limbs and downed trees, which have not been cleaned up. "Talking about it breaks my heart," George said.

The Feins bought Cave Hill after spending two weeks at the Kentucky Horse Park in May 2006 while their two daughters competed in a hunter-jumper horse show, reports The Lexington Herald-Leader.

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