Stable of Memories

linda lowry

Lexington, United States

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The ‘barn’ is an odd sight, amid the Arby’s, Starbucks, and various gas stations lining Broadway, in Lexington, Kentucky, viewed just by looking west if you happen to be caught at the Virginia Avenue stoplight. Its pristine white paint and red doors give the eight-sided barn the appearance of a wise old gentleman—one who has seen more than his share of good times, and bad.
Harnesslink.com states that, “There are few icons in the sport of harness racing that typify its tradition with grace and beauty like that of the Round Barn.” Built in 1880, “the Round Barn was financed in part by reparations paid to Lexington by the U.S. Congress for damage done by Union troops during the Civil War,” according to a KET episode of Kentucky Life. Designed by Lexington architect John McMurty, the barn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a cherished regional landmark.
Throughout my life I have passed by it thousands of times, and wagered a few dollars at the Red Mile Trotting Track adjacent to it, but I never felt the sense of majesty the barn projected before deciding to actually get out of my car and pay it a personal visit. Having a camera in the backseat of the car seems to inspire closer inspection of the everyday.
Originally called the ’Women’s Exhibit Hall’, the barn housed fairground events such as floral shows and quilt exhibits. “Still later, it was the place to go to gamble. A city ordinance had banned that particular activity inside Lexington, and the Red Mile property was conveniently just outside the city limits,” KET reports. Driving across the sprawling city of Lexington today, it is hard to believe that an address less than a mile away from the center of downtown Lexington was ever outside city limits.
Eventually, the barn found its true calling as a stable, in 1893.“Horses were on the first floor and grooms’ quarters and tack storage on the second and third floors. Hall of Fame trainer Tom Berry stabled horses in the round barn, including the 1930 Kentucky Futurity winner Hanover’s Bertha (Harnesslink.com).”
The structure began to deteriorate in the 1950’s, and a non-profit organization was chartered for its upkeep in 1971.Today, it houses donated collections relating to the harness racing industry and is leased for private events, seating over 200 comfortably. Standing tall at almost 130 years old, the Stable of Memories provides each new generation passing by something to point at, and ask their parents, “What is that place?”

http://www.harnesslink.com/www/Article.cgi?ID=8218

http://www.ket.org/kentuckylife/700s/kylife712....

Artwork Comments

  • Karen  Helgesen
  • linda lowry
  • Karen  Helgesen
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