LexHistory Announces Annual Fundraising Gala – Time Travelers’ Ball

LexHistory Announces New Spring Gala Fundraiser
Time Travelers’ Ball to Benefit Museum’s Exhibitions and Programs

For Immediate Release
September 17, 2014

Lexington, KY — LexHistory, formerly known as Lexington History Museum, is pleased to announce the creation of a new gala event, the Time Travelers’ Ball, to be held annually in the spring as a fundraiser for the museum and its exhibitions and programs. The inaugural gala will be held on Friday, March 6, 2015. The Time Travelers’ Ball is a unique event in which the historical theme will change annually. The theme for 2015 is The Roaring Twenties.

In the past, a LexHistory fundraiser had been held at the Old Fayette County Courthouse. Belle’s Ball was held for several years before the building was closed. This new event will be much grander than anything the organization has undertaken. It is part of an initiative to create dynamic programming which helps to fulfill the museum’s mission of engaging the public in Lexington’s rich history. We are confident that it will become one of the landmark events in Lexington.

On Friday, March 6, 2015, LexHistory will turn The Club at Spindletop Hall into a Prohibition-era speakeasy for the Time Travelers’ Ball. Heavy hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and drinks are on the menu, as is dancing, an auction, and live music. There will be plenty of fun activities at this event! Go get your flapper dresses and shine up your oxfords because The Hepcats Swing Dance Club will be on hand as dance instructors and will help judge the Charleston contest. And what would a speakeasy be without gambling?

In addition, join LexHistory in honoring two longtime board members who were instrumental in the success of the organization and whose influence is still felt today: Isabel Yates and the late Robert “Bob” Brewer. Time Travelers’ Ball will include a presentation honoring them and their service to Lexington History Museum.

Tickets for the Time Travelers’ Ball will be available December 2014. Sponsorship opportunities are now available. For more information please contact Director Debra Watkins at (859) 907-9585 or by email debra@lexhistory.org or Manager of Development and Community Engagement Natasha Collier by emailing natasha@lexhistory.org.

The Lexington History Museum opened in 2003 as the city’s only free historic site with the mission to engage all citizens of Lexington and the State of Kentucky in their history. Currently a museum without walls, LexHistory continues to engage the public through dynamic programming, lectures, walking tours, and online offerings such as WikiLex and The Athens of the West blog.

LexHistory is a new and markedly different chapter for the former Lexington History Museum. Administrative offices are located in Victorian Square in Lexington, Kentucky. For more information, visit http://www.LexHistory.org.

Schedule of Events for Scary Night at the Museum

The time is here, Scary Night at the Museum is less than 24 hours away! We’re so excited with all of the buzz surrounding the event, that we thought it would be best if we went ahead and let everyone know what will be going on the night of October 23.

The doors will open at 6:00 p.m. and Scary Night will begin. Please use the Short Street entrance (back of museum). Don’t know where the Lexington History Museum is located? 215 W Main St in the Old Fayette County Courthouse. The museum is bounded by Short, Upper, Main, and Cheapside Park.

Continuous activities on the 3rd Floor 6-9 P.M. –

2nd Floor
Haunted Museum! Come see the Ghosts of the Old Fayette County Courthouse as they chill you to the bone. Small children and anyone who does not like to be scared are asked to not participate in the Haunted Museum as there are thematic elements which may  be too scary for kids. The Haunted Museum will not run during the costume contest (7-8).

Clay-Davis Gallery Reception Room
Crafts
Games
Guest tables: Fayette County Cememtery Trust, Ghost Chasers International, The ScareFest, Apex Publications Owner Jason Sizemore and Editor Mari Adkins

Third Floor Hallway
Food from Papa John’s Pizza, Babycakes Cupcakes, Ale-8-One Bottling Company

Schedule of events for Original 1900 Courtroom
6:15: Mock Witch Trial

6:30: Storytelling with Octavia Sexton

7:00 – 8:00: Costume contest, Judges: Dr. Nick Couns, Mick Jeffries, Ide Bouldin
If you wish to participate in the Costume Contest, you must register at the desk at the Short Street Entrance. A form will be provided for you to put your Name, Age, and the Concept for your costume. Please be at the museum no later than 6:45.

8:00: Mock Witch Trial

8:30: Storytelling with Octavia Sexton

Thank you to all of the local businesses who have shown us SO much support: Ghost Chasers International, The Scarefest, Holiday Inn North, J. Peterman Company, Babycakes Cupcakes, Ale-8-One Bottling Company

If you have any questions about Scary Night please call the Museum at (859) 254-0530.

Changes coming to the Lexington History Museum

In the quarterly print edition of The Bluegrass Historian this month, a major change was announced concerning new admissions procedures at the Lexington History Museum. As of September 25, 2010, all visitors will be charged an admission fee. At the June board of trustees meeting, members voted to approve the admission charge in light of the museum’s budget. After the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, the admission policy will change again to offer free admission to Fayette County residents.

The admission changes also bring about changes in entering and exiting the Old Fayette County Courhouse which houses the Lexington History Museum. As of September 25, point of entry will be the Short Street entrance. The Main Street entrance will be permanently closed and signage will be placed accordingly.

After the Games close on October 10, Fayette County residents will be admitted at no charge upon presenting proof of residence (driver’s license, student ID, check, library card, etc.) The change in policy is because of projected budget deficits, but still remains in keeping with the spirit of Dr. Thomas D. Clark’s vision that local residents should not have to pay to learn about their heritage. The decision to charge admission to non-residents is supported by Dr. Clark’s widow.

Museum President and CEO had this to say about the impending changes:

The Museum receives no public operating funds, although the building is maintained at a minimum by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. The Museum operating expenses are totally dependent on private donations, such as the impending admissions costs.

The cost will be $5 for Adults and Children over 12, $3 for Children 6-11. Children 5 and under will be free. Visa, MasterCard and American Express credit cards will be accepted at both the admissions desk and in the gift shop. The three other History Center museums Isaac Scott Hathaway Museum, Pharmacy Museum and Public Safety Museum will remain free to the public.

For questions regarding these changes, please contact Museum President and CEO Jamie Millard by email jamie@lexingtonhistorymuseum.org or by phone (859) 254-0530.

Located at 215 W. Main St in Downtown Lexington, KY, the Lexington History Museum is open seven days a week 12-4 with extended hours on Saturday 10-4. During the World Equestrian Games, the hours will be extended to fit with the Spotlight Lexington events downtown. The new hours will be Sunday through Friday 10-6 with hours of 10-6 on Saturday. Following the close of the games, the museum will revert to its Friday through Monday schedule.

The Lexington History Museum engages all people in discovery and interpretation of the history of Lexington, KY and the Bluegrass region.

This Day in History — September 8

This day in history, September 8, 1867,John LaRue Helm, Kentucky governor 1850-51 and 1867 passed away just five days after taking the oath of office at his bedside. Born near Elizabethtown on July 4, 1802, e served as president of Louisville and Nashville Railroad and worked in his 1867 campaign to end post-Civil War bitterness and proscriptions against ex-Confederates.

Though he favored Kentucky’s neutrality during the Civil War, he was considered to be a Southern sympathizer. During his terms as Lt. Governor, Governor (18th and 24th) and in the Senate, he favored state aid for economic development, election reforms to curb irregularities and violence, higher salaries to attract better judges, and prohibition of the carrying of concealed deadly weapons.

He proposed that LaRue County be so-named for his grandfather.

Lexington History Museum to participate in BGT Sunday Stroll

Sundays are generally a great day to get out and take a walk around Lexington. Today is no exception as the Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation sponsors a “Sunday Stroll” with 8 open historic sites. Put on your walking shoes and head to Gratz Park where the stroll will begin. Refreshments and a music ensemble are to be found at the Bodley-Bullock House at 200 Market St. Just across Gratz Park, the Hunt Morgan House will be open as well.

The Sunday Stroll is a free way to get out and see important historic sites in Lexington. While the Lexington History Museum is always free, we will be giving a 10% Discount in the Court Square Trader Museum store during the event. Visitors must mention the Sunday Stroll to receive the discount.

The evening culminates at Christ Church Cathedral for an organ concert and Evensong beginning at 4:30. The Lexington History Museum will be open until its normal time of 4 p.m. so be sure to check it out!

Open sites include:

1.  Hunt Morgan House & garden  (Blue Grass Trust)
201 North Mill St.

2.  Old Morrison, Transylvania University; Patterson Cabin is on the grounds
West Third St.

3.  Bodley Bullock house & garden (Lexington Junior League)
200 Market St.

4.  Christ Church Cathedral, Art Gallery & Garden;  Organ Concert & Evensong
166 Market St.

5.  Henry Clay Law Office (The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship)
176 North Mill St.

6.  First Presbyterian Church
174 North Mill St.

7.  Lexington History Museum (Old Fayette County Courthouse)
215 West Main St. (Main at Upper; open ’till 4 PM)

Additionally, Pope Villa, 326 Grosvener Ave., a restoration in progress by the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation will be open for free tours conducted by historic preservation specialists.

This Day in History — April 17

Many of the men who early on took up the cause of Kentucky’s statehood were born in Virginia and most fought in the American Revolution. Christopher Greenup is one man who fits both of those characteristics. The third governor of Kentucky was most likely born in Loudoun County, Virginia, in 1750, though little is known of his parents. He worked as a surveyor and studied law before moving to Lincoln County in 1781 and was very active in the young Commonwealth, even representing Fayette County in the Virginia House for a time. Greenup participated in two of the Danville conventions that led to Kentucky’s statehood in 1792.

That same year, Christopher moved to Frankfort and began his career in Kentucky politics. For five years, he represented the Commonwealth in the United States House of Representatives. His aspiration, however, was the Office of Governor. He ran against James Garrard in 1800, but came in second place. He gained popularity in the following years and he was uncontested in the 1804 gubernatorial race and served for eight years. In his time as governor, he worked hard in directing public affairs and growing the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

While he was well-liked by citizens and the General Assembly alike, many of the programs he wished to put in place were unsuccessful. He wanted to reform the state militia, court system and the state revenue system, but was unable to secure the reforms that he envisioned. During his administrations, however, the Bank of Kentucky was founded and he initiated the purchase of stock in the Ohio Canal Company, as it was evident that the Ohio River would prove to be a very useful trade and transportation route. Kentucky almost became embroiled in the Bur Conspiracy scandal, but Greenup testified that Kentucky had no involvement in Burr’s supposed idea to invade Mexico and take over.

Christopher Greenup died in Frankfort at his home on April 17, 1818 and was buried in the Frankfort Cemetery. He left office in high-esteem and continued to be liked by the citizens of the Commonwealth. Greenup County, in northeastern Kentucky, was named after him in 1804.

Lexington’s Most Colorful Characters

CHEVY CHASER HISTORY
Lexington’s Most Colorful Characters
by Jamie Millard
March 31, 2010

With the death of Louis “Shoeshine” Cobb this past November, Lexington lost its latest in a string of colorful characters that stretches unbroken to the community’s founding days in the late 1700s. Certainly, anyone who takes on a wildcat (of the four-footed kind) with his bare hands must be quite a character. Thus, one John McKinney qualifies as the town’s first such type (and its first school teacher), as in early June 1783 he was attacked by a strangely behaving cat inside the one-room schoolhouse on the site of today’s Lexington History Museum. As the cat’s claws dug into his torso, its teeth deep in his shoulder, the commotion from the fight convinced the other settlers of an American Indian attack. Finally, McKinney got the upper hand and choked the cat to death. After being bandaged, McKinney called his class to order and resumed their instruction for the day. Understandably, shortly thereafter, McKinney left teaching to take up farming in Bourbon County, helped write the state’s first constitution, and was elected to the first legislature.

William “King” Solomon is also counted among the town’s earliest characters. Reputedly the scion of a wealthy Virginia family, he migrated to Lexington and took up residence – as the town drunk. One day, while inebriated, he climbed a tree, only to fall and land on a constable. Promptly arrested, Solomon was auctioned to pay his fine and debts. Bought for the sum of 50 cents by a free black woman known as Aunt Charlotte (for which the East End’s Charlotte Court is named), he was essentially enslaved – a white man to a black woman. Solomon’s lasting fame stems from the 1833 cholera epidemic. Because he drank whiskey, not water (or so the story goes), he was impervious to the water-born germs in polluted wells. As even the grave diggers fled for safe haven, Solomon calmly stayed behind to bury the dead at the Old Episcopal Burying Ground on Third Street at today’s Elm Tree Lane. Upon his death in 1854, Solomon was buried in the new Lexington Cemetery, and a statue declaring him a “hero” was erected at the gravesite. (Footnote to history: Solomon was not the only person digging graves. Two others worked with him: London Ferrell, a free black who is the only non-white buried in that graveyard, and a young U.S. Army Lieutenant Jefferson I. Davis, graduate of Transylvania University and later president of the Confederacy.)

After the War Between the States, former soldiers on both sides returned to their communities to live out their lives with memories of heroic wartime adventures. For years, Col. O.F. Redd, CSA, celebrated his exploits by leading the town’s many parades high on his cavalry steed. Sometimes, he would swoop a watching youngster up on his saddle where she had a bird’s eye view of the parade route. At the terminus of the parade, he would always remove his hat with a grand gesture, stand in the stirrups, and let out a blood-curdling Rebel Yell.

Of course, regular readers of the Chevy Chaser and its sister publications are familiar with the visage, if not the story, of the dog known as Smiley Pete. For 11 years, Pete, a mixed breed with an apparently fixed grin, was a fixture at the corner of Main and Lime, holding court outside Hart’s Drugstore. Nearby merchants saw to his nutritional needs.When the regular rabies outbreak occurred, Smiley Pete took up residence at Del-Tor Veterinary until the crisis passed. In 1952, Pete sired his only documented litter. But his loose living caught up with him, and he died on June 17, 1957. A plaque is in the sidewalk at “his” corner, and he is buried near the old Fairlawn mansion on North Broadway, where the marker reads: “Pete/Our Dog/A Friend to All/A Friend of All.”

Lexington’s colorful characters have been such to prompt newspaper editorials. The Lexington Leader of April 5, 1965, pays tribute to no less than five individuals whose antics entertained the community, if not the police department. Lost John wore a top hat and tails, strolling around downtown and the UK campus, playing the harmonica. Evidently, he came into a few hundred dollars, which he splurged on a motor scooter, extending the speed and range of his wanderings. Eddie Young was banned from Main Street after he suggested how an inquiring woman could “catch a streetcar.” Pete McGarvey, whose residence was listed as the Workhouse on Bolivar Street, spent his non-jail time preaching to whomever would listen from his perch on Cheapside “while he got himself in shape to go back to jail.” Walkin’ Munn Wilson was a perennial candidate for political office who would “preach politics and brimstone” until led away by the police. And there was a certain Mrs. Littleton who took Lexington society by storm – until a police detective recognized her as a former resident of The Hill (the city’s red light district).

No accounting of Lexington’s colorful characters would be complete without mention of James “Sweet Evening Breeze” Herndon. Known as “Sweet Evening” or just “Sweets” (and rarely called or even known by his given name), Herndon was born in 1889 in Scott County. Allegedly, the youngest of eight children was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital for treatment of an eye injury – and abandoned. Miss Lake Johnson, the administrator, took a liking to him and provided living space at the hospital. He paid for his room by running errands for the hospital and playing ukulele for patients. In time, he trained as an orderly, and earned a reputation for his skills of tenderly turning the bedridden. He also earned a reputation as the city’s first cross-dresser. Many a Saturday evening found Sweets dressed in feminine finery, wearing makeup and sporting a handbag while he strolled downtown streets. Many legendary tales are told about Sweets, perhaps the most memorable being when he was lowered in a basket from the Woodland Auditorium ceiling to perform the “Passion Dance of the Bongo Bongoes.” Sweets died Dec. 16, 1983, and is said to have donated a hefty sum to Pleasant Green Baptist Church, of which he was a longtime member.

Now that “Shoeshine” has joined the pantheon of Lexington’s colorful characters, who stands ready to take up the mantel?

The Lexington History Museum is currently developing an exhibit based on the lives of many of these colorful characters. We would like your input. If you feel that we have omitted any treaured Lexington character, please letus know.