Keep the University Press of Kentucky

The University Press of Kentucky just celebrated its 75th birthday, but it is celebrating it’s birthday on a list of 70 state agencies whose budgets are being slashed by Governor Bevin.

Some agencies may hobble along without the state funding, but it would seem even those that have alternative revenue streams (like book sales) would likely close if the governor’s proposal is made law.

Tom Eblen’s column draws attention to what this closure would mean – to the Press and to the Commonwealth – if the Press’ $672,000 budget allocation were gone.

The 50 books or so published each year by the University Press are a diverse collection that tell America’s history and Kentucky’s history. They explore the oft-untold culture of Appalachia in an honest way.

A little full-disclosure from me: I occasionally review books published by the University Press and post those reviews on this website; I obtain courtesy copies of the books reviewed from the University Press but otherwise receive no compensation. Here’s a link to all the University Press books I’ve reviewed.

Because telling Kentucky’s story is fun. And that is something at which the University Press of Kentucky excels. I’m looking forward to Randolph Paul Runyon’s The Mentelles: Mary Todd Lincoln, Henry Clay, and the Immigrant Family Who Educated Antebellum Kentucky which is due out in May 2018. In it, the author “studies the understated pair” of Augustus Waldemar and Charlotte Victoire Mentelle who arrived in Lexington in 1798 where they began Mentelle’s School for Young Ladies, “an intellectually rigorous school that attracted students from around the region and greatly influence its most well-known pupil, Mary Todd Lincoln.”

Tom Kimmerer’s Venerable Trees presents a complex, scientific matter in simple, readable prose that educates and informs the arborist, the history buff, the preservationist, and those who love Kentucky’s natural beauty. It was published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2015.

The beautiful 596-tome that is the Kentucky African American Encyclopedia is a “foundational guide  to the black experience in the Commonwealth.”

And in A is for Appalachia!, children take an alphabetical exploration through the traditions and culture of Appalachia. I first read it to my children in 2014 and as recently as this month.

The poetry of George Ella Lyon, who regularly publishes with the University Press, makes walls talk as she did in Many-Storied House

Even a textbook on Appalachian linguistics, Talking Appalachian, remains forever in my mind because of Anne Shelby’s complaint that the computer’s spellcheck feature turns ‘homeplace’ into someplace.

And these are just some of the stories, books, and genres that the University Press of Kentucky brings to life each year. And now it’s at risk, so I’ve placed it on the Kaintuckeean’s #DemolitionWatch.

Kentucky must continue to invest in education and in its culture and in the University Press of Kentucky.

Uncertain Fate for 1914 Neo-Classical Home in Nicholasville, Kentucky

At an auction yesterday, a century-old home on the south side of Nicholasville was auctioned off. The property located at 1201 South Main Street was advertised as including over 32 acres ripe for development. So the question is will this circa 1914 home be standing in a year (or even a month)?

The answer to that question is unknown.

So what is at risk of being demolished?

This yellow brick two-and-one-half story Neo-Colonial was built in 1914 by Everett B. Hoover. When added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, the house was described as “one of very few examples in Jessamine County of early 20th century styles; it is also one of the best designed and well preserved examples of the Neo-Colonial style in the county.”

Mr. Hoover was the son of William H. Hoover who was the subject of a brief biography in Perrin and Kniffin’s 1887 Kentucky: A History of the State. Of Everett, the authors wrote:

Everett B. Hoover, the third and youngest child, was born October 21, 1860, and like his brother received his early education in the free
schools and at Bethel Academy; in 1877 he entered the Wesleyan College at Millersburg, Ky., where he remained until 1879; then entered Vanderbilt University, where he took a special course of study, preparatory to studying law. In 1880 he entered the Columbia College Law School, New York City, where he remained two years, taking the full law course, graduating in June, 1882. He at once returned to his home and received his license to practice law in August, 1882, and has been a continued practitioner ever since. He married Miss Ella Burnett, of Boyle County, Ky., November 21, 1882. To this union was born Elizabeth Hoover, the first grandchild of William H. Hoover, January 31, 1884. In April, 1886, Everett B. Hoover was elected judge of the city court of Nicholasville, Ky., and was re-elected the following year, of which office his is the present incumbent.

The house was last on the market in 1967 when it was purchased by Charles and Anna Moore. Prior to the Moore’s acquisition, the property served as a sanatorium operated by Charles Fentress.

Charles Moore was a developer in Lexington during the mid- to late- twentieth century. In reporting Moore’s death in 1985, the Lexington Herald-Leader wrote that “Moore built houses in many of Lexington’s major subdivisions and helped develop several shopping centers (ed. including Southland) over the years.” And in 1967, Moore purchased this house as part of a 222-acre farm and then did what he did best: developed the majority of land that sits approximately one mile from Nicholasville’s courthouse.

According to a history of the house written by Elexene Cox, the site was also the home to “an equally lovely home on land that was the subject of one of Jessamine’s earliest controversies.” She continued:

After John Metcalfe laid out the town on Sept. 16, 1798, he wrote later to High Sheriff Charles West: We have succeeded amid foolish opposition from County Clerk Samuel Woodson and County Surveyor Frederick Zimmerman in locating our county seat. Woodson wanted it near his residence one mile to the south and Zimmerman wanted it one mile to the north of my survey. We have defeated their opposition. … Woodson’s ‘gem of a house’ had 14-foot ceilings and a hall 12-feet wide.

It was this “gem of a house” that Hoover demolished (at a cost of $150 for “separating all the woodwork, cleaning and separating all the stone and brick in less than a month.”) in favor of the still-present construction.

According to Cox, Hoover hired David Wolfe of Georgetown to build the house which, with “extras,” cost $9,474.

At yesterdays auction, the house and land were purchased for $1,177,000. Hopefully, this historic structure can be incorporated into any new development that might occur on the property.

All images were obtained from marketing materials related to the auction of the property by Halfhill Auction Group. As of this posting, additional images of the property are accessible on that website.
UPDATE (11/3/16 at 4:00 p.m.): Communication with one of the purchasers suggest that there are “no immediate plans” for demolition. 

City of Frankfort Seeks Demolition of Old YMCA

At the Old YMCA in Frankfort. Franklin County Trust for Historic Preservation.

Young man, there’s no need to feel down.
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, young man, ’cause you’re in a new town
There’s no need to be unhappy.

If the Village People’s young man is a historic preservationist, then he might be unhappy. Especially if his new town is Frankfort, Kentucky.

That’s because nearly a week ago, on August 24, the city issued a letter to the owner of the Old YMCA on Bridge Street that the property owner had one week to either demolish the structure or to appeal the city’s decision. If neither occurs by the deadline, the city may take action to demolish the structure on its own.

The city is acting under its nuisance ordinance which provides for immediate demolition if the structure is viewed as being an “imminent danger.” Especially convenient is that such a designation eliminates the role and review conducted by the local Architectural Review Board.

If you don’t like the idea of a demolition of a historic structure occurring under the cover of darkness, this story is of importance to you.

The Old YMCA in the 1970s.  Franklin County Trust for Historic Preservation.

A City’s Repeated Attempt at Demolition

Now, this isn’t the first time the historic circa 1911 structure has faced the prospect of the wrecking ball. In 1971, the new YMCA opened in downtown Frankfort leaving the old location vacant for the first time in sixty years. The building served as office space for a number of years, but then it sat empty for many years as well.

In 2007, the structure faced demolition. The city went so far as to obtain bids for demolition. The low bid came in at $186,000, but city commissioners halted demolition and instead sold the property to preservationist John Gray. Gray’s company, Old Y, LLC, for $1. Old Y had 2 years to revitalize the project. Of course, the economic of collapse of 2008 intervened and development could not timely occur.

The State Journal reported that the fate of the building was “in question again” in 2011, while the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation included the Old YMCA in 2015 on its endangered list. In 2015, the BGT wrote of the property

The 1911 Old YMCA at 104 Bridge Street in Frankfort, designed in the Beaux Arts style by a a Frankfort architect, was a state-of-the-art facility featuring a gymnasium, indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, meeting rooms and guest quarters. While a local developer is hoping to transform it into a boutique hotel, there is also a push by the city of Frankfort to demolish this structure. If saved, this could be a transformative project in our capital city.

Old Frankfort YMCA. Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation

A Historic Structure

At over 100 years old, the Old YMCA is more than just ‘old’. It is historic. The building’s importance and its unique position was best described by Eric Whisman, the President of the Franklin County Trust for Historic Preservation in an opinion piece published in the State Journal. So well stated, much of Eric’s text is included below:

The Old YMCA was designed by someone significant to the history of Frankfort. This is part of the additional criteria used to determine whether a building has historic significance. The work of Frankfort’s architect, Leo Oberwarth, as well as that of his son, Julian, is important to our community and is much of what makes our City special and unique. … Leo Oberwarth was a personal friend of Paul Sawyier, another person of historic significance to our community. One could argue that they both provided us with the “sense of place” that we call home.

The Old YMCA has architectural integrity. Despite decades of neglect, much of its original architectural character remains. Its Beaux Arts design is evident and someone with training would be able to look at this building and tell you the approximate construction date which was 1910. That means it provides an opportunity to teach us something about our past, and it should be considered a cultural resource. This is yet another reason it meets the definition of a “historic” structure. The front portion of the structure is solidly intact with interior features of arches, moulding, trim, and re-lights that were visible to the public as recently as the ‘Designer Showcase,’ in 2011. For the temporary use application permitting that event, structural assessments were done and validated by licensed engineers. The gymnasium space and third floor guest rooms to the rear are not stable for access as they have experienced the most deterioration due to a failure of the roof deck. But the masonry walls remain intact, which is a testament to the quality of the original construction.

The Old Y, with two other public facilities, including the Governor’s Mansion and the downtown train depot, were part of a capital construction campaign spurred by the building of the new Capital’s. These public facilities have defined and served our community for generations. Many still recall utilizing the Old YMCA before its replacement by a modern ‘new Y’ which was developed as a part of the Edward Durell Stone Capital Plaza development.

While unfortunate that the flood wall was placed where it was, it allows the building, which has already withstood seven significant floods (over 40’ major flood stage), to continue to offer the rare amenity of a water side terrace and a riverside landing area with a designed stairway to communicate up the steep bank. And it is a privilege of the historic structure to be able to place these amenities back in service, as new construction would not be allowed within the flood plain. This offers another important opportunity for the downtown Commercial district to connect to the potential of the riverfront.

A Call to Action

The Old YMCA remains, for now. As noted, the existing structure is the highest and best use for the site given its location in a flood plain — new construction is simply not an option. The city would be better served by spending $200,000 in improving the structure rather than demolishing it which can provide no return on investment and no increased future tax revenues. Economics favors preservation, especially with regard to this project.

So what can you do? A few things, really.

  1. Stay tuned for updates. On Facebook, follow the KaintuckeeanBlue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation, the Franklin County Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Kentucky Heritage Council. (There are others to follow as well, but this is a good start!)
  2. Share the updates with those you know who share a passion for history and historic preservation. Rinse and repeat.
  3. Especially if you’re a Frankforter, contact your city commissioners. Encourage them to save the  Old YMCA. 
  4. If you’re not a Frankforter, contact any Frankforter you know about #3. Then repeat #s 1 and 2.

Old YMCA Building in the 1970s. Franklin County Trust for Historic Preservation.

An Early Stone House of Fayette County… to be Demolished?

The four-bay, two-story John Bell House at 460 Greendale Road is the latest addition to our Demolition Watch. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, this residence was built in the first decade of the 1800s and is recognized as one of the early stone buildings of central Kentucky. That status is noted in Lexington’s 2007 Comprehensive Plan (p. 302).

In Clay Lancaster’s 1955 writing on Rural Residence of Fayette County, the subject property was included in a short list of the early stone houses. Describing that list, Lancaster wrote that “they are not numerous.”

Stoneleigh. Carolyn Murray-Wooley, ca. 1983. University of Kentucky Libraries.

Bell, Poindexter, Bullock and Webb

John Bell, the son of Revolutionary War Captain David Bell, was born in Virginia in 1758. He had this property, known as Stoneleigh constructed and from here sold both hogs and cattle throughout the South according to the papers of Henry Clay.

Upon Mr. Bell’s death in 1835, the property was sold to former U.S. Senator and Mississippi Governor George Poindexter who had abandoned Mississippi to practice law here, in Kentucky. Eventually, Poindexter would return to Mississippi.

Perhaps one of the most interesting tales relating to Poindexter occurred when he was living in Washington, D.C., and retained the services of Richard Lawrence for the painting of his residence there. A few months after the paint had dried, Lawrence became the failed assassin of President Jackson. Jackson accused Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina as well as Poindexter of conspiring in the assassination attempt. Although there was no evidence connecting either senator to the crime, Mississippi failed to return Poindexter to the Senate. He immediately came to Kentucky.

The property passed through the hands of Winfield Bullock, too, before being acquired by John Webb in 1848. The property remained in the Webb family’s control until earlier this year.

The Road to Demolition?

The present concern involves the transfer of the 12.4 acres on which this historic property resides to BT-OH, LLC on June 29, 2016 for $1.15 million. BT-OH is a Delaware limited liability company formed in 1999 as a subsidiary of United Parcel Service, Inc. It is believed that the acreage is valuable to UPS not for its historic value, but instead as a parking lot. When the property had been listed for sale, the presence of a historic brick building was not noted. Signage seemed to indicate only acreage of developable property.

A demolition permit has yet been applied for as of the date of this writing, yet the property remains at risk. It is not located in an H-1 historic district, but a stone wall on the property should be enough to warrant a demolition hold to be placed on the application once it is sought.

Stay tuned for more details.

339 Jefferson Faces Wrecking Ball

339 Jefferson Street. Fayette PVA

With spring comes the blossoming buds of the flowers, but it also seems to bring the wrecking ball. On March 4, 2016, a demolition permit was sought for 339 Jefferson Street.

The old house, according to records of the Fayette County PVA, was built around 1890* and is another example of Lexington’s disappearing vernacular architecture. The property owner as of January 1 was Dixon Enterprises, LLC, but the demolition permit reveals that LFUCG Code Enforcement is the applicant/owner. Dixon owns a significant amount of the center of the block.

339 Jefferson Street, then numbered 181 Jefferson, on the 1901 Sanborn Map. UK Libraries.

The house appeared on the 1901 Sanborn Map, but was then numbered 181 Jefferson Street. As noted above, the PVA records indicate that the house was built in 1890. The 1896 Sanborn map, however, does not indicate that any structures were yet constructed on that portion of the western side of Jefferson Street. As such, I believe that 339 Jefferson was built somewhere between 1897 and 1901 … ca. 1900 – 2016.

On August 27, 1910, the Lexington Leader reported that “the funeral services over the body of Mrs. Nannie L. Harvey of 339 Jefferson street, who died Friday afternoon will be held Sunday afternoon, the burial taking place in the Lexington Cemetery.” She was survived by her husband, the sole beneficiary under her will which was probated in November of 1910.

The Jefferson Street corridor is currently one of Lexington’s most active and exciting districts with new development and investment filling the area. Demolition of vernacular structures like these shotguns I highlighted last year is often a side effect of a historic area’s popularity. Other alternatives, like infill and redevelopment of blighted areas like what is going on in NoLi, exist.

It remains to be seen what will occur on this site. But until we know, RIP 339 Jefferson (ca. 1900-2016). After nearly six score together, we hardly knew thee.

5 in ’15: The Best of the Kaintuckeean in 2015

The majority of posts on this site focus on Lexington, Kentucky history and historic preservation. But looking back at 2015’s most popular posts on the Kaintuckeean revealed a couple of fascinating details. One big overservation was that 4 of the 5 most popular posts were about subjects outside of Fayette County. That’s because, well, “Kentucky Kicks Ass.”

And 2 were from Nicholasville! So read on and discover the posts. Last year, I included the page of my book, Lost Lexington, in the rankings. Though it would have been #3 this year, I opted to include only posts. But thanks for continuing to love the book!

#1: Graded School Ruins Along the Dawkins Trail

The Ivyton School in Magoffin County can be spotted from the junction of the Dawkins Trail and the Mountain Parkway.

Read More: Graded School Ruins Along the Dawkins Trail

#2: No Destination: Griffith Woods

Griffith Woods, in Harrison County, once had a tavern that was relocated to Clark County in recent years.

Read More: No Destination: Griffith Woods

#3: Lexington’s Newest Disappearing Neighborhood

The 1920s houses in this area were demolished in 2015 to make way for the new Shriner’s Hospital

Read More: Lexington’s Newest Disappearing Neighborhood

#4: Another Nicholasville House is Gone

Another house from the 1920s is lost to demolition. This one is in Nicholasville. 

Read More: Another Nicholasville House is Gone

#5: A Snow Covered Nicholasville

A foot of snow on the ground in Nicholasville resulted in some beautiful pictures. Hoping we don’t repeat this in 2016!

Read More: A Snow Covered Nicholasville

Yes, there were a lot of great posts in 2015 and I hope to share some more of Kentucky’s awesome and rich history, people, and places in 2016!

One final statistic, the three busiest days on the Kaintuckeean were Feb. 23 (A Snow Covered Nicholasville), March 11 (Lexington’s Newest Disappearing Neighborhood), and November 30 (Graded School Ruins Along the Dawkins Trail). Those dates brought in a lot of traffic with some popular posts!

Thanks for a great 2015 and I wish you and yours a happy and prosperous New Years! 

Another Nicholasville House is Gone

404 West Maple Street – Nicholasville, Ky. Jessamine County PVA

A month or so ago, my family was walking along Nicholasville’s West Maple Street when my wife commented on what appeared to be work being done at 404 West Maple Street. My heart jumped as I thought that this circa 1921 residence would be remodeled and given a new lease on life.

This, however, was not to be. On Black Friday (2015), the house was demolished. According to records of the property value administrator, the two-story house had 2,228 square feet. But the house would not reach its 95th year.

404 West Maple Street – Nicholasville, Ky. Author’s collection.

The house was acquired most recently by auction in September 2015; the photo above was taken post-auction. The stone foundation supported a frame structure encapsulated in aluminum siding amongst its many windows.

The Home of Hugh “Buddy” Adams

Headstone of Mr. Adams at
Camp Nelson. Judi Fryer.

Its most noted owner was Hugh “Buddy” Adams, a former superintendent of Jessamine County Schools who retired in 1983. Buddy Adams was an alumnus of both Transylvania University and the University of Kentucky. He served in the U.S. Army Air Forces as a Staff Sergeant during World War II and was a deacon at the Nicholasville Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Mr. Adams passed away in January 2007 and is buried at Camp  Nelson. He left behind his beloved wife Helen, to whom he had been married nearly 60 years at the time of his passing. She continued to live at 404 West Maple Street until earlier this year.

In other words, this house wasn’t long neglected or vacant. It, until very recently, was a home.

It was a place that added character and unique charm to the street. Just two years ago, another house was demolished on West Maple Street (603) due to the local government’s receipt of a community development block grant. Like 404 West Maple, 603 West Maple was constructed ca. 1920 and it “added character to the streetscape of West Maple.”

The Jessamine Female Institute

Jessamine Female Institute (postcard) – Nicholasville, Ky.

The subject house, 404 West Maple Street, was located on land once occupied by the Jessamine Female Institute which was incorporated in 1866. The school shuttered in 1909 or 1910 and its assets were soon sold. The main building of the Institute, a three-story structure built in 1888.

Approximately eight years later, the subject house was built. And in 2015, it was demolished. I’ll be sure to update this post if and when I find out why.

404 West Maple Street – Nicholasville, Ky. Author’s collection.

Demolishing Little Addie Street

440 Addie Street, Lexington, Kentucky. Fayette PVA

The African-American enclave within Lexington known as Smithtown today has a recognizable name thanks to the brown ale from West Sixth Brewing Company that bears its name (it’s a tasty brew at 4.5%).

But the name Smithtown references a historically African-American neighborhood roughly bounded by Broadway, Jefferson, Fourth and Sixth streets. One of the streets within those bounds is Smith Street which runs between Fourth and Fifth streets.

Another short alley (Addie Street) only runs half that distance and is located to the east of Smith Street but to the west of Bourbon Street. I previously raised concerns about the demolition of vernacular architecture, like shotguns, in this immediate vicinity. In that post, I connected an affiliate of Transylvania University to the demolitions occurring as the school tries to increase its geographic footprint on Lexington’s northside.

452 Addie Street, Lexington, Kentucky. Fayette PVA.

Now, two new demolition permits have recently emerged on Addie Street. Both of these permits were sought by the new owner of the properties: Transylvania University.

Transylvania University’s demolition permits are for the addresses of 440 Addie Street and 452 Addie Street.

As noted above, this little alley is situated in the heart of the historically African-American Smithtown neighborhood. In 1995, the Herald-Leader wrote that Smithtown was “a historically black part of the Northside that is bordered roughly by North Broadway and West Fourth, Jefferson and West Sixth streets — has some crime, just like anywhere else. But it’s also filled with watchful residents who know who belongs in the neighborhood and who doesn’t.”

A search for “Addie Street” largely reveals the same pattern of crime referenced in the 1995 story, and the area has long had a rugged past. A search of historic newspapers indicates few references to this poor street and most relate to crime.

In 1940, Quincy Shelton was accused of at least two counts of vehicular manslaughter (a hit and run on Leestown Road which killed a 31 year old Woodford County farmer and a 24 year old painter from Lexington). Shelton actually resided at 452 Addie Street, one of the houses being demolished by Transylvania. Shelton was a school bus driver for the Fayette County.

1907 Sanborn Map which reflected the referenced properties, but not Addie Street itself. UK Libraries.

As for the shotguns themselves, the records of the Fayette PVA suggest construction in 1898 with square footages under 1,000 each. The 1907 Sanborn, the earliest to record the fire insurance of these parts of Lexington, reveals that 440 was likely 6 Addie Street. 452 Addie Street was previously numbered either 3 or 4. Addie Street itself, however, didn’t appear on the Sanborn map though it is clear that six shotguns were constructed by that point along the narrow path which would have later been made more accessible by a demolition at 516 West Fifth (see image above).

The Smithtown neighborhood grew following the Civil War; it was the home of many former slaves who now worked for a small wage, often for their former masters. Although once plentiful, the homes of these occupants are quickly disappearing.

For the most part, the loss of any one shotgun structure is not necessarily a loss of historical proportion (there are, of course, exceptions). Sometimes, they are just “old buildings.” But one must consider the sheer volume of shotguns that once existed in Lexington; they are becoming a dying breed. And their collective loss is of historic proportion.

The Starting 5: October’s MVPs

The starting five? I’m thinking about Ulis, Labissiere, Murray, Poythress and Briscoe. How about you?

And over here on the Kaintuckeean, October’s Starting 5 were the month’s MVPs (Most Valuable Posts).

So what were October’s most popular posts?

A Ghoulish Walking Tour

The most popular post in October helped to promote what turned out to be an awesome event. #BGTdeTours’ October edition including a historical & ghost walk of Lexington’s past led by Kevin Steele of Lexington Ghost Walk and Creepy Crawl.

Read more at:

Griffith Woods

Griffith Woods. Author’s collection.

The only repeat on the list (September’s #1) comes back as October’s #3. The 745 acres of Harrison County land provides the purest glimpse of what Europeans first saw when the entered the Bluegrass region. This is what the land looked like when the Native Americans lived here. Griffith Woods is a cooperative effort between the Nature Conservancy, the University of Kentucky and the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission. Originally called Silver Lake Farm, the area features some venerable trees that are more than 300 years old.


Metes & Bounds: Measuring Up Kentucky

A long-form post which included much of the history of how Kentucky was first part of Virginia and its separation from the mother-Commonwealth, along with the breakdown of Kentucky into its 120 counties. Oh, yes, and there’s a little bit about a place called Transylvania!

The post also got picked up by KyForward.


The Story of the Willis Green House

Willis Green House. Blue Grass Trust

Danville’s Willis Green House was constructed around 1800 and has a grand history. It was in very poor shape and was auctioned off in 2013 to a consortium that sought its preservation. The consortium then sold the property to individuals who are restoring it. The photographs in this post, many provided by the Blue Grass Trust, are great examples of ‘ruin porn’ completed with a “door to hell.”

Read more:

Daniel Midkiff’s Ascension

What began as a short #DemolitionWatch post about a house being demolished on Walton Avenue turned into something larger. A western Kentucky typhoid fever outbreak led a widow and her children to Lexington and to the city’s Pythian Home. The family later rented the house (demolished in September 2015). One of the children was Daniel Midkiff who became a major player in the central Kentucky equine industry.

Read more:

If you like these posts, you can keep up with the latest from the Kaintuckeean (and some great posts from other blogs) by following the Kaintuckeean on Facebook!

The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away

St. Peter Claver Catholic Church is located at the northeast corner of Jefferson and Fourth streets in Lexington’s Northside neighborhood. On November 6, 2015, the demolition permit was issued for this holy place.

But we knew it was coming.

The demolition is part of Phase II of a rehabilitation of the campus for this parish which dates to the 1880s. According to an April 1907 edition of the Lexington Leader, a “Catholic Church for the Negroes in Lexington is now under organization [and] a chapel has been secured in the colored Catholic school on West Fourth street, near Jefferson, and it will be opened within a short time.” Previously, space was reserved “in the local Catholic Church for the colored people to worship.”

In Phase One, the ca. 1913 parish school was renovated earning high marks and awards from historic preservationists. Now, in Phase Two, the church builing (mid-20th century) is being demolished to make way for a larger sanctuary.

Although in 1995, the Diocese cut the number of priests at the three downtown parishes from 3 to 2, the St. Peter Claver Catholic Church has been bursting at the seams. The new facility will have seating for 450, up from about 250. It is a growing parish that is serving the needs of its community.

Saint Peter Claver was a Jesuit priest. A Spanish native who immigrated to present-day Columbia in 1610. Among other things, he is the patron saint of race relations and ministry to African-Americans. He was canonized in in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII.