[graphic] National Park Service Arrowhead and link to NPS.gov [graphic] 1900 changes picture in photo box to Carnegie Library [graphic] 2000 changes picture in photo box to Keeneland Horse Racing [graphic] 1850 changes picture in photo box to Henry Clay [graphic] 1800 changes picture in photo box to First African Baptist Church [graphic] 1775 changes picture in photo box  to  McConnell Springs
[graphic] National Park Service Black Bar
 [graphic] photo box - map of Kentucky [graphic] Lexington, Kentucky: The Athens of the West A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
 [graphic] Link to Lexington Home Page  [graphic] Link to List of Sites  [graphic] Link to Essays  [graphic] Link to Learn More Page  [graphic] Link to Travel Itineraries Home Page  [graphic] Link to NR Home
 [graphic] Link to Map
[graphic] Introduction

[photo]
Victorian Commercial Block in downtown Lexington, a thriving commercial area

Photograph by Eric Thomason, courtesy of the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, Kentucky Department of Travel, Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation, Transylvania University, Kentucky Heritage Council, and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO) proudly invite you to explore Lexington, Kentucky: The Athens of the West. Located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region, Lexington has a long history as a cultural, political and social center and today is characterized by beautiful residential neighborhoods, vital 19th-century commercial districts, and the tranquil rolling hills of horse country. This latest National Register of Historic Places Travel itinerary illustrates the transformation of the city from a small town established as a gateway to the western frontier in 1775, to a bustling center of economic, intellectual, and political activity. More than 100 of Lexington's historic places are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This itinerary highlights 29 of those historic places that convey the story of Lexington's charm, development and renewed interest in this city's sense of the past.

[photo] Lexington's centennial parade on Main Street, c1879
Copied by J. Winston Coleman, Jr., courtesy of Transylvania University Special Collections

Lexington was first settled during the Revolutionary War, and was a small frontier post that grew rapidly into a regional trading center. During the 19th century, Lexington's economy boomed due to a strong manufacturing industry supported by local hemp farms whose crops were locally manufactured into rope. Evidence of this prosperity can be seen not only in the commercial districts that developed during this period, such as the Downtown and Victorian Commercial Districts, but also in the grand mansions built for individuals like John Wesley Hunt and his son, Francis Key Hunt. Lexington society also blossomed, especially after the establishment of Transylvania University and the surrounding Gratz Park Historic District. By the turn of the 20th century, residential neighborhoods were spreading to the edges of the city such as the Athens, Constitution, or South Hill historic districts.

Lexington, Kentucky: The Athens of the West offers several ways to discover the historic properties that played important roles in the city's past. Each highlighted property features a brief description of the place's significance; color and, where available, historic photographs; and public accessibility information. At the bottom of each page the visitor will find a navigation bar containing links to four essays that explain more about early days of the Athens of the West, Civil War, Architecture and Lexington Preservation. These essays provide historic background, or "contexts," for many of the places included in the itinerary. The itinerary can be viewed online, or printed out if you plan to visit Lexington in person.


[photo] Rowhouses in the Gratz Park Historic District
Photograph by Eric Thomason, courtesy of the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation

Created through a partnership between the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, Kentucky Department of Travel, Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation, Transylvania University, Kentucky Heritage Council, and NCSHPO, Lexington, Kentucky: The Athens of the West is the latest example of a new and exciting cooperative project. As part of the Department of the Interior's strategy to revitalize communities by promoting public awareness of history and encouraging tourists to visit historic places throughout the nation, the National Register of Historic Places is cooperating with communities, regions and heritage areas throughout the United States to create online travel itineraries. Using places listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the itineraries help potential visitors plan their next trip by highlighting the amazing diversity of the country's historic places and supplying accessibility information for each featured site. In the Learn More section, the itineraries link to regional and local web sites that provide visitors with further information regarding cultural events, special activities, lodging and dining possibilities, as well as histories of the region.

Lexington is the 13th of more than 30 partners working directly with the National Register of Historic Places to create travel itineraries. Additional itineraries will debut online in the future. The National Register of Historic Places and the Kentucky Department of Travel hope you enjoy this virtual travel itinerary of the city's historic places. If you have comments or questions please just click on the provided e-mail address, "comments or questions" located at the bottom of each page.

[graphic] link to Athens of the West Essay  [graphic] link to Civil War Essay  [graphic] link to Architecture Essay
 [graphic] link to Lexington Preservation Essay

 

Lexington Home | Main Map | List of Sites | Learn More | Itineraries | NR Home | Begin Tour
Essays: Athens of the West | Civil War | Architecture | Lexington Preservation

Comments or Questions

JPJ/RQ/SB

[graphic] Link to the National Park Service website