The Carved Altar By LUCY TEBBS


The Life, Home, Times and Talents of Lucy Tebbs

  • Lucy Crittenden (“Lutie”) Tebbs was born in 1861, the daughter of James John Tebbs of Mason County and Rebecca Ammerman Tebbs of Harrison County. They owned the “Never Failing Spring” farm on Connersville Pike where Mr. Tebbs was a pioneer breeder of shorthorn cattle in Harrison County. Lutie had eleven siblings. Lutie and several of her sisters attended a finishing school in historic Washington, Ky., where they took classes on painting china, needlework and woodcarving along with “lady skills of entertaining.”
  • Following the death of their parents, three of the spinster Tebbs sisters Lucy (Lutie), Mary Gower (Martie), and Enfield Rebecca (Ennie) built “Chesterfield House” on Pleasant Street in Cynthiana, the current home (2019) of Susan and Rick Dycus.
  • The building of their home was written up in the March 31, 1910, issue of The Cynthiana Democrat newspaper: “The Misses Tebbs are making preparations to begin at an early date the erection of a handsome brick residence on their lot on East Pleasant Street.” Here they ran a most imposing boarding house that catered to the upper class traveling on the train, barely a block from their home. “Chesterfield House” was a significant in-town retirement home and mansion complete with a source of respectable income where the sisters hosted fancy receptions, political functions and weddings. The home boasts three unusual mantles with wooden heads carved into the mantles by Lucy — images of the three sisters perhaps. “The funny thing is the women’s faces are looking out into the room with the expressions of gargoyles who are definitely keeping an eye on everyone in the room.”
  • When Enfield died in 1929 the house was sold. Mary had died in 1923 and Lucy died in 1939. Their coin flatware silver (still in the possession of the family) bears the initials ELM — Enfield, Lucy, Mary.


Iota-Eta-Sigma in Wood

  • Lucy became quite a woodcarver, so much so that a pedestal that she carved was showcased in  the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago. This title was shortened to be the Chicago World’s Fair. Lucy’s carved pedestal was exhibited in the “Kentucky Parlor.” According to Marie Copeland of Lexington, Lucy’s niece: “Prior to 1893 when Lucy was in her 30s, Lucy finished the pedestal which she carved from a walnut tree that grew on her father’s farm on the Connersville Road. This event appeared in the 1896 local Democrat newspaper.” The passage in the newspaper stated as follows: “Miss Lucy Tebbs is also a noted artist in this line, having carved the beautiful pedestal which was placed in the Kentucky parlor at the World’s Fair.  Miss Tebbs received her instruction in the city of Louisville, and does credit to the institution. Miss Kitty Ward has a piece of hall furniture, carved by herself, that is greatly admired. She is a pupil of Miss Tebbs.”
  • Lucy created several items for her family including a beautiful and very unusual hand-carved mantle still in a Lexington home owned by a descendant, John Tebbs. “The mantle is unique in its own right, but the fact that it was carved out of a solid block of wood by a female artist in that time period adds an extra layer of allure.”


Base of Advent’s Altar

  • Lucy and several other women are responsible for the carving of the intricate and unusual altar in the Episcopal Church on Walnut Street (shown here in the three photos), and Lucy hand-carved wooden offering plates for several churches in Cynthiana.
  • Lucy and her sisters are buried in Battle Grove Cemetery in Section A. See her gravestone and information by clicking HERE.
  • Some information was obtained from Lexington resident Marie Copeland and Texas resident Mary Lou Meyers, descendants of the Tebbs sisters, and Chevy Chase “Recycling Our Past,” March 2011.



The Eastern Windows

Not original to the 1855 building, these windows are believed to have been made Cincinnati. Each window is dedicated to a former priest or parishioner.



Close-up of the base of each of the eastern windows.


The Western Windows

These windows are believed to be original to the 1855 building. They stand proudly at the front of the church building on 118 Walnut Street. They are on hinges and were made to be opened.


Carved wooden pieces made by church youth hang on the walls just beneath the mount of each parabolic ceiling rafter.

Geneva (Jaye) Dennis is a former art teacher at Harrison County High School and a member of Advent. In 1980 she organized a group of wood carvers for a project to create the Stations of the Cross, also known as the Way of the Cross. The group included Chris Darnell, Pat Darnell, Rusty Lake, Amanda Dennis, Troy Williams, Jimmy Edwards, Robert Hinkle, Larry Williamson, Kitty Belden (wife of Fr. Belden, priest), David Belden and Linda Downing.