Current view of Victorian Commercial
Photograph by Eric Thomason, courtesy of Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation
The Victorian Commercial Block is an important commercial center
in downtown Lexington. Its commercial buildings were constructed
primarily during the 1870s and 1880s, a period of great prosperity
and trade in Lexington's history. A wide variety of businesses
were found here including a furniture store, basket maker's shop,
grocery store and printing businesses. The block still retains
its 19th century profile and charm, and contains similar businesses
to those originally operating here. Many of its Victorian decorative
details such as bracketed storefronts, ornate hood molds, pressed
tin ceilings and tile stoops survive. The block is located at
the corner of Main Street and North Broadway, the two widest streets
in Lexington and a strategic location between the Downtown
Commercial District and the western suburbs. One of the noted
buildings in the district was Lell's Opera House, at 410-412 West
Short, called "the prettiest building in Lexington." Built in
1882 by prominent businessman and civic leader John William Lell,
an immigrant from Wurtenburg, Germany, the opera building could
hold 600 people. It was later destroyed by fire.
Today, the block continues to be the heart of a thriving commercial
and recreation area. Adjacent to the block is Rupp Arena and the Lexington Convention
Center as well as the newly remodeled Lexington Opera House.
Recent renovations to the block have preserved the intact storefronts, while reorganizing
some of the interiors to create more open spaces. The block is now home to restaurants,
clothing stores, and a children's museum called the Explorium of Lexington, as well as a variety of
arts and crafts stores.
1977 view of Victorian Commercial District
from National Register collection, courtesy of Richard DeCamp, Lexington-Fayette
County Historic Commission
The Victorian Commercial Block is located at the corner of
West Main and North Broadway sts. For information on the
Explorium of Lexington please visit their website.