Lost Lexington Coming to the University of Kentucky

In April 2015, I was honored to receive the Excellence in Writing Award from the University of Kentucky’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Design. It is always rewarding to be honored by your alma mater, but it is unique when it is for something so distant from your academic career (my UK degrees are in accounting and law).

The accolade arose from my creation of this website and the publication of Lost Lexington. Later this month, I’m returning to campus for what I’m told is the inaugural event in the Robert E. Hemenway Writing Center Speaker Series. There, I’ll be speaking about writing the Kaintuckeean and Lost Lexington and I’ll be sharing a few of the backstories from Lost Lexington.

I want to thank the Writing Center, the WRD Department and especially Professor Judi Prats (who incidentally taught me a 100-level English class when I was a UK undergraduate) for hosting this event.

And, since the event is open to the public — I hope you’ll join the festivities!

IF YOU GO
Robert E. Hemenway Writing Center Speaker Series: Lost Lexington 
September 29, 2015
Reception 6:00 p.m.
Talk, Q&A 6:30 p.m.

President’s Room at
Singletary Center 
Rose & Euclid, Lexington

Free and open to the public.

More details on Facebook.

Lost Lexington & Kentucky Historical Society’s “Food for Thought”

Each month, the Kentucky Historical Society hosts its Food for Thought luncheon series in Frankfort. This month, I’ll be speaking about and reading from my book, Lost Lexington, to share back stories of the places in Lexington that once were – but have been lost to history. The event is on August 19 and begins at noon at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History.

After the event, I will be signing copies of the book. And the Kentucky Historical Society will be selling copies of the book if you don’t have one already. Reservations are required and must be made by August 14 by contacting Julia Curry at 502-564-1792, ext. 4414 or via email at julia.curry@ky.gov. Tickets for the luncheon are $25 per person for KHS members and $30 for non-members.

IF YOU GO
Kentucky Historical Society
Food for Thought Lunceon
Lost Lexington author,
 Peter Brackney

August 19, 2015
Beginning at noon

100 West Broadway, Frankfort

Reservations are required and must 
be made by Aug. 14. Contact Julia Curry at 502-564-1792, ext. 4414 or julia.curry@ky.gov

Celebrate National Farmer’s Market Week with Lost Lexington and Homegrown Authors

What better way to celebrate National Farmer’s Market Week than coming to see me on Saturday morning?

That’s right, it’s National Farmer’s Market Week through August 10. And on August 8 – from 9 am until about noon, I’ll be at the greatest Farmer’s Market of them all: the Lexington Farmer’s Market at Cheapside Park! (OK, I’m a little biased. But definitely one of the best!)

I will be there do discuss and sign my book, Lost Lexington, as part of the Homegrown Authors series by Morris Book Shop and the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning. And I’ll be joined by another local Kentucky author, Ben Woodard, who has some awesome stories to tell. He’s been writing children’s books with his latest being Bubbles: Big Stink in Frog Pond.

So come on down to to the Lexington Farmer’s Market and say hello (and support your local authors…and farmers!)

According to the Herald-Leader, the Lexington Farmer’s Market will be celebration National Farmer’s Market Week with “a watermelon and cantaloupe fundraiser to benefit the Bluegrass Double Dollars program, which matches food vouchers for fresh fruit and vegetable purchases. [Plus] there will be music by the Lexington Philharmonic, appearances by local partners, and awesome produce, meats, cheese and Kentucky Proud products from around the area.”

See you tomorrow morning, Saturday August 8, between 9 and noon at the Lexington Farmer’s Market downtown at Cheapside Park!

Lost Lexington Promotion to Save Peoples Bank

Earlier this week, I took you inside Peoples Bank! This beautiful structure can be preserved – with your help!

We just can’t let this incredible piece of googie architecture become part of ‘Lost Lexington’.

So here’s what I’m proposing: ORDER a copy of LOST LEXINGTON by clicking here and I’ll donate 20% of the sale price (that’s $4.00 per book!) toward the preservation fund! I’ll keep this offer open now through the end of the month!

This offer is only good for those who can pick up the book locally, but if you really need it shipped then contact me about it!

Or, if Lost Lexington isn’t your fancy, you can donate directly to the the preservation of the Peoples Bank by clicking here!

Need a Last Minute Father’s Day Idea?

The authors of a trio of books will be on hand at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Lexington tomorrow, Saturday June 20th from 2:00 – 4:00 in the afternoon.

Ashlee Clark Thompson, author of Louisville Diners, will be on hand. So, too, will be the author of Kentucky Speedway: Kevin Kelly. And I’ll be there at Joseph Beth signing copies of Lost Lexington.

Ashlee, Kevin, and I all have one goal in mind: to make sure the fathers of central Kentucky are well-taken care of on Father’s Day. (That’s on Sunday!) So whether your Dad is into NASCAR, good eats, or history … we’ve got you covered.

Here’s what Lost Lexington readers had to say about the book that tells the stories about the places of Lexington that once were, but are no longer with us:

I hope to see you at Joseph Beth!

IF YOU GO
Lost Lexington Book Signing
June 20, 2015
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Joseph Beth Booksellers
161 Lexington Green Circle,
 Lexington

Free and open to the public.

More details on Facebook.

A Discussion on Lost Lexington

Please join Lost Lexington author Peter Brackney on Tuesday, May 12 at 7:00 p.m. at the Beaumont Branch of the Lexington Public Library. He’ll be discussing the book and some of the back stories from Lexington’s places that have been lost to history.

Lexington has dozens of well-restored landmarks, but so many more are lost forever. The Hart-Bradford House has been described as “one of Lexington’s oldest, most historic landmarks.” The famous Phoenix Hotel, long a stop for weary travelers and politicians alike, has risen from its own ashes numerous times over the past centuries. The works of renowned architect John McMurtry were once numerous around town, but some of the finest examples are gone. The Centrepointe block has been made and unmade so many times that its original tenants are unknown to natives now.

Registration is recommended, but not required. You can also indicate your attendance on Facebook which I’d really appreciate!

For more about Lost Lexington, click here.

And here’s another link to the Facebook event: —

The Southern KY Book Fair is Tomorrow in Bowling Green

Named by the Kentucky Travel Industry Association as one of the Top 10 Spring Festivals & Events, the Southern Kentucky Book Fair is this Saturday in Bowling Green! It is a free event where 150 authors and illustrators from Kentucky and beyond are available to discuss their books. There will be panel discussions and, of course, you can purchase copies of the great books there at the event and get them autographed!

I’ll be there at Booth #58 with Lost Lexington so be sure to come and say hello! And if you have friends or colleagues in Bowling Green or in the western Kentucky region who are interested in books, history, or historic preservation — be sure to send them along!

If you go:
Southern Kentucky Book Fair
April 18, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Knicely Convention Center, Bowling Green
Admission is free.

More details about the Book Fair are available at http://www.sokybookfest.org and you can learn more about Lost Lexington by clicking here.

Listen to Last Week’s Trivial Thursday Interview!

Host Mick Jeffries, myself, and Mayor Jim Gray talking about Lexington. 

Before the rains hit late last week, I spent part of Thursday morning in the studio’s of UK’s student-run radio station, WRFL. Mick Jeffries, the godfather of WRFL, invited me on his show Trivial Thursdays to talk about my book, Lost Lexington. My interview starts around the 10:40 mark.

While on the air, I read from a few excerpts about the book and talked with Mick about incubation periods, Belle Brezing, the Kaintuckeean, Wigwam Villages, and more. Later during the show (around 46:30), Lexington Mayor (and Lost Lexington foreworder) Jim Gray talked more Lexington awesomeness.

Turn up the volume, apparently I wasn’t speaking closely enough to the microphone … And tune in to Trivial Thursdays from 7a – 9a every Thursday morning on 88.1 WRFL.

Lexington’s Newest Disappearing Neighborhood

Site of Shriners Hospital on South Limestone. Author’s Collection.

Groundbreaking on Shriner’s Hospital. U. of Ky.

Earlier this week, the University of Kentucky and the local Shriners Hospital for Children broke ground for a new hospital facility that will be located opposite South Limestone from the UK Medical Center in Lexington. The project is anticipated to take 22 months to complete and the cost is estimated at $47 million. The new Shriners facility will replace the existing 27-acre complex on Richmond Road that opened in 1955, though the Shriners began operating a hospital in Lexington in 1926. (That original Shriner’s Hospital was adjacent to and was later acquired by Good Samaritan Hospital at Maxwell and Harrison (later South Martin Luther King Blvd) streets. Good Samaritan was itself acquired by UK Healthcare in 2007.)

In 1925, Mrs. F. J. Conn “announced plans of constructing 100 homes on her property.” That property includes the site of the new Shriners hospital as well as the existing UK Healthcare parking structure.

Mrs. Conn’s husband, Frederick J. Conn, was the superintendent of bridges for the Southern Railway Company. Although the couple hailed from Illinois, Lexington city directories show them in Lexington since at least 1898. Mrs. Conn died in 1934 and Mr. Conn followed her in death in 1935.

He had escaped death on at least one occasion before: in 1908 he was electrocuted “at the overhead bridge on the Frankfort pike” according to the Lexington Leader.

Conn’s farm was bounded on the north by Transcript Avenue, the west by the then-Southern Railway tracks, and the east by South Limestone Street. A new street was constructed through the property; that street was named after Conn Terrace after the property’s owners.

According to an article in the Lexington Leader in August 1925, the development was not made for profit but the homes would be “sold at cost for the benefit of people in moderate circumstances who wish homes of their home.” Homes were to be built “as fast as there is demand for them.”

Birdseye View of South Limestone Dwellings. Author’s Collection.

The area was not within the city limits at the time and a 1939 real property survey of Lexington identifies a portion (though not all) of the development within the city limits. In the early to mid-1950s, Lexington expanded its boundaries southward to include South Limestone street from the then-city limits at Conn Terrace all the way to Rosemont Garden.

Before ground was broken on the site, I photographed the façades of each of these 1925-1950 dwellings that would in short time be lost from the fabric of Lexington. This is Lexington’s Newest Disappearing Neighborhood.

Conn Terrace

Birdseye View of 102-106 Conn Terrace. Author’s Collection.

The five dwellings on Conn Terrace, all part of the Conn Terrace development discussed above, have the loveliest scale of those being demolished. Of particular interest to me are the quaint structures at 102 and 106 Conn Terrace.

102 Conn Terrace. Author’s Collection.

104 Conn Terrace. Author’s Collection.

106 Conn Terrace. Author’s Collection. 106 Conn Terrace, ca. 1949. UK Libraries.

108 Conn Terrace. Author’s Collection.

110 Conn Terrace. Author’s Collection.

State Street

The three structures on State Street, as well as the three on Limestone Street, stood outside of the Conn plat. Each, however, offers a unique testimony and design to this old neighborhood.

109 State Street. Author’s Collection.
Kentucky Kernel Article on
Passing of Helen Stanley.
U. of Ky. Libraries.

109 State Street was the home of the University’s Recorder, Helen Stanley, from 1925 until the time of her death in 1937. Prior to her appointment as Recorder, she had worked in the registrar’s office since 1919. According to Prof. Gillis, Ms. Stanley was among one of the best recorders in the United States.

It is worth noting that State Street wasn’t always a site of off-campus housing and celebratory couch burnings. This area off of North Elizabeth Street was a middle-class neighborhood that offered “live where you work” opportunity to employees at the University.

For the past few decades, the presence of more and more students have made this area undesirable for the middle class. As the owner-occupied generation moved away, properties were sold to landlords. Some, though not all, of these landlords have added unsightly additions that irreversibly altered the neighborhood’s character long. Some, though not all, of the student residents exacerbated the problems of blight and decay.

While both the loss of these homes is disheartening and the continued “creep” of University developments is concerning, the use of this site by the Shriner’s simply makes sense.

113 State Street. Author’s Collection.

119  State Street. Author’s Collection.

123 State Street. Author’s Collection.

Limestone Street

Finally, note how different the three structures on Limestone Street are from the two roads running perpendicular to it. While a few of the structures on Conn Terrace and State Street have the scale of those on South Limestone, the dwellings facing the main road all were two-and-one-half stories to create a stronger presence along the highway.

1037 S. Limestone. Author’s Collection.

 1041 S. Limestone. Author’s Collection.

1045 S. Limestone. Author’s Collection.