History

Milliken Memorial Community House, erected in 1928 in Elkton, Kentucky, is the first privately donated community house in America. The 13,000-square-foot (1,200 m2) building pioneered a new architectural program for public use. The house was commissioned by Mary Louise Milliken (1873–1936) and her husband Samuel Canning Childs (April 2, 1859-1934) in 1926 in memory of Rebecca Wells Milliken. 

Both were wealthy philanthropists and were responsible for the construction of over twenty hospitals and two churches throughout the United States. Childs was a wealthy businessman who had founded the American Food Store Company, a prominent Mid-Atlantic retail grocery chain. A Woman’s Club was organized in Elkton in 1924 and Mr. & Mrs. Childs began formulating plans to construct a community center for this and other social groups. Designed for the specific purpose of housing community events and funded entirely by Mr. and Mrs. Childs, the building was to be a permanent memorial to the memory of her mother.

Construction of the building began in fall of that year (1927) and was completed in April during the next year (1928) at a cost of $75,000, equal to $1,478,000(2008) today. Average home cost in 1928 was 4,000 dollars.

Local contractor V.L. Price constructed the building and the architect responsible for the buildings design is George S. Koyl (former dean of Yale Architecture) and Marr & Holman Architects. The mansion is designed in the Neo-Classical style of Flemish bond brick with a large two-story portico on the main facade. The main section is two stories with a porte-cochere on the west facade and with a one story ballroom wing formerly covered in a glass conservatory at the rear.

The house was officially opened on April 11- April 12 in a two day celebration. Mary Louise and Canning booked the Francis Craig Orchestra from RCA Records to play for the opening ball. Newspapers from Lexington and Nashville covered the event naming it one of the greatest examples of generosity ever recorded in Kentucky.