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[graphic] Victorian Commercial Block
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[photo]
Current view of Victorian Commercial District
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.

[photo]
1977 view of Victorian Commercial District
Photograph from National Register collection, courtesy of Richard DeCamp, Lexington-Fayette County Historic Commission

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.

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.

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