Throughout the 20th century Lexington has experienced the same growing
pains as have many other cities. With urban sprawl, businesses and
residents have migrated to the fringes of the city. Lexington's
downtown area experienced a significant decline during the last
half of the 20th century. Growth and redevelopment have also resulted
in many of Lexington and Fayette County's historic places falling
prey to the bulldozer.
Threats to the Hunt-Morgan House
were the catalyst for the formation of the Blue Grass Trust
for Historic Preservation|
by David Huntsman, courtesy of the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation
Changes to this decline have come about only recently. A new
heightened awareness of the importance of preserving historic
buildings and reviving the downtown area has slowly developed.
One group that has helped to foster this awareness is the Blue
Grass Trust for Historic Preservation. The Blue Grass Trust was
first organized in 1955 to save the historic Hunt-Morgan
House and the neighboring Thomas Hart House. While the Thomas
Hart House was destroyed (the site is now a parking lot), the
Blue Grass Trust succeeded in saving the Hunt-Morgan House, which
it continues to operate today as an interpretive house museum.
The Blue Grass Trust has also been successful in saving other
historic places such as the Adam Rankin House in the South
Hill Historic District; Shakertown at Pleasant Hill; the Mary
Todd Lincoln House; and, in conjunction with Transylvania
University, the Belle Breezing Row House.
Currently the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation is restoring
the John Pope Villa, which was designed by nationally known architect
Benjamin Henry Latrobe. The $1.6 million restoration is partially
being assisted by the Save
America's Treasures program from the National Trust for Historic
Preservation and the Kentucky Heritage Council as well as many other
foundations. One of the Trust's main goals is to reach out to the
community and make citizens aware of the importance of preservation.
As the mission statement reads: "the Blue Grass Trust is guided
by the three tenets of the Trust mission--education, service and
Another preservation success
in Lexington is the Adam Rankin Houset--the oldest house in
the city--located in the South Hill Historic Distric
Photograph by Eric Thomason, courtesy of Blue Grass Trust
for Historic Preservation
The Henry Clay Foundation and their efforts at historic Ashland
also illustrate the community's focus on historic preservation.
After the group's extensive renovation of the building from 1990
to 1991, Ashland once again reflects its 19th-century appearance.
Individual places of prominence in the city are not the only objects
of preservation in Lexington. More and more residents are also taking
part in the preservation of Lexington's historic neighborhoods such
as Ashland Park, Bell Court,
and Constitution Historic District. The Lexington-Fayette
County government assists homeowners through the Historic Preservation
Commission, which is part of the city-county government. An important
part of the Commission is the Architectural Review Board, which
approves design changes and advises owners of historic properties
how to best preserve their properties. Additionally, the Commission
reviews all requests for demolition in the city and county. With
the conscious efforts of the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation,
the Historic Preservation Commission, and many other groups and
individuals, Lexington hopes to save the most important visible
reminders of our past as a people--our historic places.
Ashland, the home of the famous
U.S. Senator and politician, Henry Clay|
Courtesy of the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation, Lexington, KY