Gone but not forgotten, part deux: the George H. Bowman House

George H. Bowman House – Lexington, Kentucky. Author’s collection.

An earlier version of this post appeared on this site in 2013 in what was, in reality, an early version of #DemolitionWatch. Based on a zoning change request, this structure had a lot of charm and appeal. But now the demolition permit was sought last week (October 20, 2015) for the old house at 4145 Harrodsburg Road. The land, which backs up to the Palomar subdivision, will be absorbed into that residential area. 

In the spring of 2013, I spotted a sign in front of 4145 Harrodsburg Road indicating that a zoning request for the parcel would be from R-1D to R-1T. I rode onto the property, site of an abandoned home, to investigate further.

As it turns out, the residence was the George H. Bowman House, a ca. 1860 Greek Gothic Revival according to the Kentucky Historic Resources Survey conducted on the property in 1979.

Site Layout of Bowman House
Layout of Bowman House (Source: Resources Inventory)

Property owners, according to early county maps, identify the owner in 1891 as John McMeekin who was the son of Jeremiah McMeekin. The elder was a butcher who had purchased Helm Place in 1873.

The owner in 1871 was J. S. Burrier, originally of Jessamine County, who acquired the home and 165 acres that year. He was married to Alice Craig, daughter of Lewis and Martha (Bryant) Craig.

It is believed that George H. Bowman constructed this house ca. 1860, though he remained only a few years. After inheriting Helm Place from his father, pioneer Abraham Bowman, George H. was forced to sell much of his inheritance to satisfy a gambling debt.

A. J. Reed took advantage of the younger Bowman’s misfortune and acquired the Helm Place property in 1859. It is believed that our subject house was built for George’s occupancy after the liquidation of Helm Place. Within the decade, George H. Bowman had passed away and his children divided and sold their father’s property.

Back to the present. The zoning change mentioned permitted the demolition of the Bowman House and the erection of four townhouse units in its place. It is worth noting, however, that the data relied on in the Map Amendment Request (MAR) included inaccurate data from the Fayette County PVA office.

The existing house was build in 1940, according to PVA records. Unfortunately, since the grant of the previous zone change (and prior to the purchase by the applicant) the house has fallen into a state of disrepair. There are structural issues relating to the foundation. Also contents and mechanical systems of the house have been torn out by unknown persons. Exterior decay issues are present. For all these reasons, it is impossible to preserve the house. (MARV 2013-3 Amd.pdf)

I truly doubt that preservation was an impossibility. Impracticable, perhaps. But not impossible. Several additional references existed in the MAR to the “1940 house.”

I was glad to have snapped these pictures before the old Bowman House was demolished. (I’m assuming demolition has occurred – any updates to the project?)

George H. Bowman House – Lexington, Kentucky. Author’s collection.

Interior George H. Bowman House – Lexington, Kentucky. Author’s collection.

6 in September: The Most Popular Posts

Though there were only four new Kaintuckeean posts from September, there was a lot of strong traffic out of the archives. Below are the six most popular posts from September.

Griffith Woods

Griffith Woods. Author’s collection.

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.

Read more at http://www.kaintuckeean.com/2010/07/no-destination-griffith-woods.html

A #DemolitionWatch Update

Fritz Farm. Fayette County PVA

One post from September helped to catch readers up on the many demolitions that have occurred around Lexington over the past couple months. Significantly, the circa 1875 farmhouse at Fritz Farm near the corner of Nicholasville Road and Man-O-War was demolished to make way for the future mixed-use development known as The Summit at Fritz Farm.

Read more at http://www.kaintuckeean.com/2015/09/catching-up-on-lexingtons-recent.html

Lost Lexington at the University of Kentucky

This post was a promotional post for an event I had at UK’s Singletary Center to speak about my book, Lost Lexington. What made the event more special was that it was the inaugural event in the Hemenway Writing Center Speaker Series! It was a great event with a great group of attendees who asked some great questions!

Read more at http://www.kaintuckeean.com/2015/09/lost-lexington-coming-to-university-of.html

3,849 Images from Lexington’s Past

Cadets along Main Street. UK Libraries. 

UK Libraries unveiled a new collection which included some incredible photographs from Lexington’s past. The photos, digitally extracted from dry plate, silver nitrate glass negatives, date from ca. 1898-1918.

Read more at http://www.kaintuckeean.com/2015/07/6-images-from-lexingtons-past-and-3848.html

Riverside Historic District

Audubon Statue at the Point. Michael Monks

A guest post from the archives, written by Michael Monks of RCNKy.com, is about the Riverside Historic District in Covington. This treasure includes eight blocks along the Licking River beginning at the confluence with the Ohio River. Architecture of the “Greek Revival, Federal, Queen Anne, High Victorian, Gothic, Italianate, and French Second Empire styles” can be found here.

Read more at http://www.kaintuckeean.com/2012/07/RiversideHD.html

Silas Baptist Church

Like many churches in the region from both the Baptist and Disciples of Christ traditions, Silas Baptist draws from the heritage of the Traveling Church which was founded in Virginia in 1767.  This July 2010 offers image and text from the on-site historic marker with a little extra insight on this oldest continuously running church in Bourbon County.

Read more: http://www.kaintuckeean.com/2010/07/no-destination-silas-baptist-church.html

Discover more and follow the Kaintuckeean on Facebook!

Daniel Midkiff rose from ‘Inmate’ to a leader in the Sport of Kings

This now-demolished structure at 224 Walton Avenue is zoned commercial in an area that is being revitalized as The Warehouse Block. A demolition permit was sought on September 23, 2015 for the 1,052 square foot house that, according to the PVA website, dates to 1946.

The house, however, looks and is quite older.

A Sanborn Map of Lexington from 1920 reveals that a similarly designed structure (1.5 story dwelling with full front porch) then existed at 224 Walton Avenue. So I would suggest that the structure was built ca 1910-1920.

Sometimes, however, a seemingly inconspicuous home has a rich history. That is the case here.

Wreckage of 224 Walton Street on September 30, 2015. Author’s collection

The 1921 City Directory identifies 224 Walton as the home of several members of the Midkiff family: Bernadine, Con, Daniel, Earl, and Nora. A quick check of ancestry.com helped determine that the first four were Nora’s adult children. Bernadine was a stenographer, Con a laborer, Daniel a foreman, and Earl an oiler.

It also appeared that the house was rented by Mrs. Nora Midkiff who was, according to the City Directory, a widow (Oscar being the name of her late husband who passed away in 1907). The adult children, all natives to Kentucky, weren’t Lexingtonians. All were born in western Kentucky.

I immediately wondered what tragedy must have befallen Nora’s late husband so that she would relocate from the western part of the state to Lexington with a handful of young children?

Elected Official Succumbs to Fever

I found the answer on the front page of The Hartford Republican dated July 12, 1907 through a search on newspapers.com under the headline: JAILER OSCAR MIDKIFF SUCCUMBS TO TYPHOID.

The Hartford Republican, July 12, 1907. UK Libraries.

Mr. Midkiff was “elected Jailer of Ohio County November 1905, on the Republican ticket, and has made a competent, careful official.” At the cemetery, he was given full military honors “including the firing of salute over the grave and the solemn sounding of ‘taps’ by bugler Allison Barnett.”

The news article further noted that Midkiff “leaves a wife and five small children, one of whom a little girl is also quite ill from typhoid fever.”

A sad story indeed. And did the ill child survive?

Inmates at the Pythian Home

By 1910, the remaining family had already made the move from Ohio County to Fayette County: that years federal census identified each as an “inmate” at the Pythian Home of Kentucky.

Pythian Home for Widows and Orphans at Clays Mill, Lexington. UK Libraries.

The Pythians were a fraternal organization and secret society founded in 1864. The local chapter acquired the residence and farm of Richard T. Gibson, near the intersection of the pikes to Clays Mill and Harrodsburg, making it a home for widows and orphans in either 1907 or 1908. The site is now occupied by Lafayette High School.

It was here in 1910 that the Midkiff widow and five children resided, so it seems that the little one who was ill with typhoid fever at the time of her father’s death did survive. And within the decade, each of the children took a vocation and supported their mother.

Daniel Midkiff

One of those children was Daniel Boone Midkiff.

He worked for the Lexington Utilities Company until 1923 when he joined his brother-in-law in the construction business. The two also partnered in establishing a quarry, although he sold his interests in each of these entities to his brother-in-law in 1939. At this time, he began to manage an equine stock farm. Ultimately, he began to take “a string of horses to the great meets and racing them under his own colors and operating the Overbrook Horse Farm on the Tate’s Creek Road” according to the Sesquicentennial History History of Kentucky edited by Wallis and Tapp in 1945.

He was a charter member of the Thoroughbred Club. He partnered with Joseph Mainous to establish the Mainous & Midkiff Insurance Company. In 1952, the Lexington Leader described Midkiff as a “farm manager, real estate dealer and insurance man.” His Lexington Herald-Leader obituary, dated September 26, 1990, stated that “Daniel B. Midkiff Sr., known for his love for thoroughbred horses, died yesterday at his home in Lexington. He was 91.”

And the house in which he, his widowed mother, and his siblings struggled to stay together during the early 1920s was demolished 25 years to the week after Midkiff’s death.

224 Walton Avenue, post-demolition. Author’s collection.

Catching up on Lexington’s recent demolitions

Due to scheduling, I haven’t been able to maintain and keep up with those structures on Demolition Watch. Below the jump is a list of properties that have been subject to demolition requests since I last updated y’all.

If you are interested in keeping fully up-to-date on these matters, you don’t have to wait for a Kaintuckeean post. A free service called Citygram provides the information to your inbox for free. Citygram is available only to a handful of cities around the country, but Lexington is on this exclusive list.

In addition to that solution, you can also request a weekly report from Lexington’s Planning Commissioner Derek Paulsen by filling out this form. The availability of this information is a great example of a more transparent government!

Unfortunately, I didn’t catch images off of the Fayette County PVA‘s website in time for all of these parcels. Luckily, Google Maps can help out, too.

4100 Nicholasville Road

ca. 1875. This farmhouse on the northeast corner of Nicholasville Road and Man-o-War Blvd was on the last good-sized farm in south Lexington. It is the future site of a commercial development, The Summit at Fritz Farm

via Fayette PVA

A Commercial Block

Several nondescript buildings in the block bounded by Midland Ave., East Third Street, and Lewis Street are being demolished to make way for an expansion of opportunity by Community Ventures Corporation. These properties include 225 Midland, 261 Midland, 265 Midland and 250 Lewis.

via Google Maps


142 York Street via Fayette PVA as an example of the shotguns demolished.

You may recall a couple of previous Demolition Watch posts that focused on demolitions in the NoLi area of Lexington, including some on York and Eddie Streets (here and here). Well, redevelopment of that area continues. Structures implicated in this round are on York Street and all were built ca. 1900. Parcels include 142, 140, 136, 134, 132, and 130 York Street.

According to NOLI CDC, the program (which implicates funding by Lexington’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund) “transforms vacant or condemned properties in the North Limestone neighborhood into affordable live/work units that respect and respond to the neighborhood’s historical context.” Each of the rebuilt York Street properties will sell for $72,500 and will be deed restricted based on income limits. 

Rendering via NOLI CDC

509 Smith Street

via Google Maps

537 West Fifth Street 

ca. 1909

via Fayette PVA

646 Maxwelton Court

ca. 1924

via Fayette PVA

849 Whitney Avenue

ca. 1910

via Fayette PVA

301 Preston Avenue

ca. 1920. From the picture, we can see why this one was demolished. According to the Lexington Leader, Joseph Lee Robinson lived here when he died at a short illness. A native of Augusa, Ky., Mr. Robinson lived in Lexington for 35 years before he passed away on January 13, 1930. His funeral was held at the Kerr Brothers Funeral Home.

via Fayette PVA

Inside Peoples Bank

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. And it’s true. I recently had the opportunity – along with others wanting to support the worthy cause of preserving and relocating the Peoples Bank now located on South Broadway in Lexington – to explore the innards of this mid-century ca. 1961 Charles Bayless-designed commercial structure. So here are a few picture collages from my trip inside the Peoples Bank!

Each exposed piece of vintage wallpaper was reminiscent of Mad Men while you could just image those gathered in the bank lobby on modern furniture around a retro fireplace.

The space is incredible and I hope that its preservation is a success. All signs of late are positive, but your help is still needed. The Warwick Foundation (which is spearheading the fundraising efforts, with the help of some other incredible organizations and individuals, for preservation/relocation) has set up a web portal where you can do just that … donate toward the final goal!

Concerns about potential demolition emerged when a grassroots organization – People for the Peoples – announced on Facebook that a demolition permit had been obtained and that demolition would begin the following morning. The late-night post prompted me out of bed to get this Kaintuckeean post written hoping that the parties might give the Peoples Bank a chance.

Fortunately, all parties have graciously and cooperatively moved forward with a common aim toward preservation. But that ultimate goal still needs additional public support! Help out here!

That goal that all are working toward won’t just preserve this landmark building, but it will also create a Peoples Portal that will serve as a central entry to the Rupp District where themes of respect and inclusion will dictate programming. It will be a place where values can be shared and opinions exchanged in a thoughtful and creative way that would be a tremendous asset for the Lexington community.

And a special thanks to my Twitter-turned-real- friend Mick Jeffries who was on the scene and caught this picture of yours truly inside this magnificent space. I’m just glad I didn’t break the camera.

Another ‘Good’ Demolition Permit: 736 N. Limestone

I’ve been asked about a lot about my #DemolitionWatch posts. Isn’t it best that some of these buildings be demolished? There’s not much value to the little run-down structure, so why save it? Do you favor saving every building? Are you opposed to progress?

Well, at least the #DemolitionWatch posts seem to get people’s attention. And maybe they’ll start a conversation. I hope that the posts don’t simply become a case of the boy that cried wolf. There are significant properties that can and should be saved on #DemolitionWatch. Examples include the Peoples Bank (here, here, and here) and the Sanders House which was regrettably demolished in the waning days of May 2015.

Other properties won’t be saved. But saving every shotgun really isn’t the goal, nor is it possible.

The Janitor at Transylvania

There are a few goals. First, I hope that readers begin to recognize the significance of the once prevalent shotgun as an example of an architectural style. Second, the places being demolished were once the places where real Kentuckians lived or worked. Historical accounts of Lexington are sure to note the Gideon Shryock-designed Morrison Hall on the campus of Transylvania University, but those same accounts are equally likely to ignore the story of the janitor who worked at Transylvania.* And third, to recognize that every place matters.

(As is often the case, a peculiar thought or search term online uncovers and begets amazing information. Apparently, the janitor of Transylvania’s Medical Hall did make the history books. His name was Absalom Driver. A future post indeed!)

William Murtagh, the first keeper of the National Register of Historic Places once said that “the past [belongs] to anyone who is aware of it, and it grows by being shared.” While sharing tangible reminders of our past remains the first choice because the physical connection to our past is irreplaceable, knowledge of our past and the sharing of that knowledge is also critical.

Without that knowledge, a community might lose its bearings. It may forget its true past and its legacy.

736 North Limestone

Case in point: 736 N. Limestone. The circa 1905 duplex was the home of laborers. The property, under demolition, is part of the LuigART rebirth of this once blighted area. The project intends to “create beautiful, historically-sensitive structures, spaces, streetscapes, and community that reflect and augment the character of the community.” It will offer important live/work space for area residents. I mentioned this project in a prior post on Rediscovering Eddie Street. The ‘demolition permit’ will allow for positive change.

According to the 1911 city directory, 736 N. Limestone was the home of Joseph and Hattie Fish. According to the directory, he was a laborer. The couple had moved by the following year’s directory around the corner to 122 Eddie Street. In the 1920 census, a Joseph Fish lived on Eddie Street alone. And even the Lexington Leader’s ‘colored notes’ are silent about Mr. and Mrs. Fish.

The 1921 directory finds Benjamin and Lena Bibbs residing at 736 N. Limestone. Like Joe Fish, Ben Bibbs was a laborer. But unlike Mr. Fish, Benjamin Bibbs was a “well-known citizen” when he died in 1931. The Leader reported that services for him were held at the Consolidated Baptist Church and that he was buried in a family plot at the Greenwood cemetery.

The Notable Kentucky African American Database recognizes Mr. Bibbs with the following notation: “Benjamin Bibbs (b.1880) was a shoe shiner at N Y Hat Cleaners (1931 directory). According to his WWI draft registration card, Bibbs had been a tinner at State University on Limestone [now University of Kentucky], and he and Lena Bibbs lived at 167 E. 7th Street.” It would seem that The Bibbs family lived in various homes in the neighborhood and the family name frequented the Leader’s ‘colored notes.’

Every place has a story.

Victory for the People: People’s Bank

A unique and innovative preservation measure has resulted in the donation of $50,000 toward the preservation and relocation of the circa 1962 Peoples Bank in downtown Lexington.

The deal is a multi-party, multi-site deal that shows how complex preserving history can be. A lot of people and parties deserve credit for the cooperation in this arrangement. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office, LFUCG Division of Historic Preservation, Ms. Linda Carroll, and the BGT all had a hand to play in a memorandum of agreement that was finalized earlier this week.

So what’s the deal?

Fritz Farm

At the intersection of Nicholasville Road and Man O’War lies a 60 acre tract of farmland. This tract rests within the Urban Service Boundary and is the subject of the anticipated Summit shopping center With TIF funds and some federal money implicated, the National Preservation Act of 1966 came into play. Section 106 of that Act requires that a study of how historical resources might be impacted by the use of federal funds or issuing of a federal permit (that’s how the Army Corps of Engineers is involved). Suffice it to say, there was going to be some impact at Fritz Farm.

Through the $50,000 donation (earmarked toward preserving Peoples Bank), an on-site educational display and a pre-development recordation of the south Fayette farmland’s history, developers of The Summit (PDF link to site plan) are able to mitigate the historic losses resulting from the development.

Although I have some reservations, mostly traffic related, about another shopping development along Nicholasville Road, I know that development within the Urban Service Boundary is far preferable to expanding the city limits.

This kind of arrangement could be a model for future historic preservation efforts.

Peoples Bank

People for the Peoples

The victor of this really is the People. And the Peoples. And the People for the Peoples.

The midcentury modern bank on South Broadway, with its blue tile and sawtooth, zigzag roof line, is an iconic piece of Lexington architecture. Plans for a downtown multiplex movie theatre would require the demolition of the historic midcentury bank so that the parking garage’s ingress/egress could be modified to a side entrance rather than creating traffic issues directly on the highway.

A community-wide effort to save the Peoples Bank, relocate her, and convert her into the Peoples Portal (a non-profit community center) are underway. Though once on the brink of demolition,  matching grant from the Warwick Foundation, budgeted city funds, and agreement by the developer to donate the building if it is moved have kept the wrecking ball away. It can only presume that these multilateral talks have further worked to keep the property owner from pulling the trigger on demolition but to instead allow preservation to have a full opportunity.

The grant from the Warwick Foundation requires matching funds from the community of $250,000. Of that total and inclusive of the $50,000 mentioned above, approximately $140,000 has been raised. You can help bridge the gap and save this iconic landmark by clicking here.

Though this news is terrific, the fight to save the Peoples Bank is not over. As noted above, your help is still needed. As such, the property remains on our #DemolitionWatch.

Demolition Watch in the ‘Invisible’ Speigle Heights

Built ca. 1920, 453 Speigle Street is yet another Lexington shotgun that recently faced her demise. A permit of demolition was issued on May 26, 2015. Although the PVA lists a private owner for the property, the demolition permit favored LFUCG Code Enforcement.

News of this demolition was the first I had heard of this little little area known as Speigle Heights. As it turns out, I’ve walked through a small portion of it before unwittingly though I must not have taken note.

Speigle Heights was created from the subdivision of two parcels: Adcock Addition and Adcock Second Addition. The first included 108 lots that included parts of Jane, Robinson, Ferguson and Douglass streets; its plat was filed on July15,1912. I couldn’t find information on Adcock Second, though 453 Speigle was located in this latter addition. The area west of the railroad tracks is only accessible via Robertson Street.

The first reference to Speigle Heights in the local history index was specific to 453: Henry Berry passed away at his home here in January 1935. Mr. Berry, a member of the Main Street Baptist Church, was buried in the African Cemetery #2. According to the 1930 census, Mr. Berry had been a janitor at Transylvania College.

The references to Speigle Heights, however, multiply through the years beginning in the 1990s, but most are crime-related. In July 1998, the Lexington Herald-Leader published an article entitled ‘Invisible Heights’ in which it was noted how “odd this week [it was] to see the name of Speigle Heights in the Sunday edition of The New York Times Magazine. . . . The Heights is a tiny, nearly invisible neighborhood in Lexington, a scattering of little houses on Speigle Hill that overlooks the railroad tracks below.”

The New York Times? Yessir. The NYT piece concerned Gayl Jones who, born in 1949, “grew up in a cramped, dilapidated house with no indoor toilet in Speigle Heights, one of Lexington’s more turbulent black neighborhoods.” Jones would become an accomplished author, but the NYT article concerned the gruesome events related to her mother’s passing from cancer, accusations of medical experimentation, Jones’ husband’s suicide following a violent 1998 confrontation with Lexington police seeking to execute on a 1983 warrant from Michigan at the couple’s north Lexington home. The full NYT account can be accessed here.

I drove through parts of Speigle Heights yesterday and discovered an area containing a mix of older and more recently constructed lower income housing with a small community park. But clearly, there must have been something more to this neighborhood in the days that Mr. Berry lived in Speigle Heights.

It was a place of pride to own a home in the predominately-African American Speigle Heights. As noted in the Herald-Leader in 2006, “Back in the day, some black folk in Lexington thought of the black people who lived in Speigle Hill as saditty (pronounced sa-dit-ty). Stuck up. Snobbish. But that was because the families who lived on the eight streets that constitute the Speigle Hill community off Versailles Road back then owned their homes, and they weren’t the type to wait for things to be handed to them. The men by and large worked for the city in some capacity, including as police officers and firefighters.”

Lexington Coachman’s West Fourth Street Shotgun is on Demolition Watch

Across from the always-locked back gate to Hampton Court is a shotgun at 467 West Fourth Street, a structure which is the latest installment of #DemolitionWatch. The permit was issued on May 19 on a story that was once the home of the coachman for multiple prominent Lexington families.

According to PVA records, the 1,003 square foot shotgun was built in 1908. Unlike many of the other shotguns, 467 West Fourth has a 275 sq. ft appendage near the rear of the structure (date unknown). 

Parker Langford: Coachman to the Bradley, Dudley, and Barnes families

As for the history of 467 West Fourth, a search of the local history index at the Lexington Public Library revealed one hit: the Lexington Leader‘s “colored notes” of February 1930 noted that “funeral services for Mrs. Laura Langford, formerly of this city, were held in Cincinnati, Monday, February 10. She was the wife of Parker Langford, 467 West Fourth Street.”

According to the 1921 Polk’s Lexington City Directory, Parker Langford resided at 467 West Fourth Street. He was listed as a janitor, though at an unknown place. His obituary also appeared twice in the Lexington Leader on July 30, 1941 after he passed away at the Good Samaritan hospital after a long illness. The Madison County native was the son of Green and Eliza Langford whose residence was misidentified as 457 West Fourth Street (the 1940 Census confirms that Langford lived at street number 467, not 457).

The second July 30 Leader mention of Langford’s passing came not in the “colored notes,” but on page 12 under the headline “Aged Negro coachman to be buried Thursday.” Mr. Langford must have been well known in the community to have his passing noted twice in the paper of the day. 
As a point of reference for Leader readers, the obituary on page 12 noted that Langford was “for a number of years coachman for the Bradley, Dudley and Barnes families in this community.” These are prominent names in Lexington’s history, though I cannot readily confirm the specific families for which Langford worked.
The 1940 Census also revealed that Mr. Langford owned the property which was valued on the census form at $400. 

An Asterisk ‘Denotes Colored’

Additionally, the 1912 Polk’s City Directory identified the resident as Lula Aiken, the widow of John Aiken. Beside her name was an asterisk which, according to the directory’s guide, “denotes colored.” A sign of the times. 
Polk City Directory of 1912. University of Kentucky Archives

The Demolition Permit and its link to Transylvania University?

Campus Map. Transylvania University
The demolition permit favors the property owner, West Side Properties, LLC. According to the Secretary of State’s website, the principal of West Side is an individual who also happens to sit on the Board of Trustees of Transylvania University. Given the growth of Transylvania’s campus in recent years, one must consider Transylvania’s intent beyond its current campus map? I’m specifically looking at the area to the west of Bourbon Ave. 
So while it is unclear what the long-term will hold for this property, one can be almost certain that the coachman’s old shotgun house was once his pride. But it is soon to be demolished and 467 West Fourth Street will be just another part of Lexington’s lost past. 

Demolition Watch Updates Offer Good News During National Preservation Month

How about some good Friday news?

There are a couple of updates from the week worth mentioning, especially given how popular this site’s #DemolitionWatch posts have become. So from the Commonwealth’s two biggest cities, I offer some potentially positive outcomes to places on Demolition Watch.

Here are the original #DemolitionWatch posts related to the Jefferson and Fayette County structures. Updates are after the jump.

Louisville Water Company Building

Louisville Water Company Building, ca. 1913. University of Louisville Archives.

First, from Louisville. Last month, I derided “Possibility City” for lack of imagination or possibility with regard to three demolitions on a block slated to become the home of an Omni Hotel. The post warned that “still standing on the block are the old Water Company building and the old Odd Fellows Hall.” Louisville has recently been spotlighted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as the city is turned into a 3-year ‘living laboratory’ so it didn’t make sense for this development to end horribly.

And it appears that it won’t as there’s good news from Louisville Mayor Jim Fischer per the Louisville Courier Journal. The city of Louisville will commit $1 million toward moving all or part of the historic Water Company building. Per the Mayor’s website, “we are committed to saving all or parts of the historic old Water Company Building.” The $1 million has already been set aside by the city to help prepare the site for the Omni Hotel project, and Fisher “would rather use that money to help save some of the building.”

The mayor also outlined three potential outcomes:

  1. Move the entire old Water Company Building;
  2. Move the portico, the façade, and 25 feet of the side walls; or
  3. Move only the portico and place it on public land

We’ll see which outcome is the route taken. I’ll be pulling for #1!

Peoples Bank in Lexington

Peoples Bank rendering.
A lot of movement and a significant amount of progress. You may recall the deadline of May 21 was yesterday. The deadline was tied to a vote by the Lexington Center Corporation’s board meeting. 
During that meeting, the LCC board unanimously voted to allow the iconic Peoples Bank to be relocated somewhere in the Rupp District. A few locations have been mentioned with the most prominent being at Maxwell and South Broadway. 
With that approval, the developer has “generously provided the project with another extension” according to the Facebook group, People for the Peoples. As previously noted, the estimated cost to move the Peoples Bank is $850,000 with funding already being committed by the city and a matching grant from the Warwick Foundation. The $300,000 matching grant requires $250,000 of public support with over half of that having already been raised! Details on how you can help are available here.
Laurel Catto, chair of the Warwick Foundation’s board, was reported in the Lexington Herald-Leader as saying that “this is far, far more than just saving a building. This is a living, breathing monument to our community’s values for respect and inclusion. … (The bank) was designed as a public space.”