Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sleuthing Some Other Old Photos

Our Guess the Location winner writes,

Since you seem to be very knowledgeable about Lexington, I found this picture interesting.

What do you know about the body of water (pond/lake/quarry) in front of the UK Admin, where Kennedy Book store and the parking structure now stand? And did it flood? Was that the cause of the flooding that occurred in pictures of Alumni Gym being partially underwater?

What I know, is precious little. But, from a little research, I can deduce that this was a quarry and that it was controlled by the City. The Sanborn maps of 1896 and 1901 show that the area now occupied by Kennedy’s had some small houses on the lots and the rest of the block as vacant. The building on the corner of Bolivar and S. Upper St. is shown to be a school and warehouse, which fits with the following entry from the Lexington Leader of Sept. 4 1893
"A Transformation" The old work house building at the corner of Upper and Bolivar streets has undergone a wonderful transformation during the last few weeks…to the training of the youthful mind: or in other words, it will be used as a city school building, and will be known by the euphonious title, Davidson School, No. 5.
Add to that the entries from the Morning Transcript of July 14 1893
Much talk over crowded conditions of city schools. Home of old workhouse keeper on Bolivar Street being used.
And May 4 1894
Workhouse keeper charges city $6 per rod for crushed rock to be put on Lexington streets.
From that I will guess that there was a quarry associated with the workhouse and the area between Limestone and Upper is the likely spot. Then there is this,
Old rock quarry on South Limestone and Upper being filled in by city. Lexington Herald April 11 1901
So, I think that we can say that it was a quarry. Did it flood? Probably, but most likely it just held water. What we cannot see in the photo is the depth of the water shown. There was a pond just south of Bolivar where an African church held baptisms. This was a part of a natural drainage system flowing from the Ashland Park area toward (and across) the University property, then down through Davis Bottoms and on to Town Branch creek.

This would bring us to the other part of the question, the flooding around Alumni Gym.

The depressed area between Alumni Gym and Limestone did at one time hold water and served as a boating spot for student recreation.


are good examples.

This area was better drained when the entire stream channel was put underground probably in the ‘30s. The photo of the gym flooding was taken in the summer of 1928.

In looking at my sitemeter reading, I am beginning to suspect that our winning guesser works for the local tourism office and Mrs, Sweeper is certain that she is a female based on the decision process of the winning guesses. I hope that I find out someday.


das said...

The flood around Alumni Gym in 1928 was caused by heavy rainfall and an inadequate storm sewer.

-Board of Trustees minutes, 1928

ps.Lex said...

Thanks for looking this up. I find all this stuff very interesting. I'm not really a history buff, but it is facinating to see & know what was here long before.

ps. Not that I don't want you to know who I am, I just don't want it posted all over the internet. If you have an email address, I'd be happy to correspond.

Thanks again!