WOODWARD HEIGHTS

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY

   
         

802 W Maxwell St

337 Merino St

328 Merino St

 

The present cohesive Woodward Heights neighborhood has resulted almost by a fluke from the leveling of a vast residential area between Merino and South Broadway for parking for the Lexington Civic Center in the late 1970s. It happens to correspond very closely, however, with the historic Woodward Heights Addition that was developed about 1890 from the former estate of brilliant lawyer and banker Madison C. Johnson, around his fascinating and still well-preserved ca. 1850 mansion known as "Botherum."

This valuable land, only a few blocks from the downtown center of Lexington, became available after Johnson's death in 1886; it created a windfall for the developer, J. C. Woodward, who laid out about 75 well-situated building sites. It was soon built up with a variety of large brick and more modest frame cottages, taking pretty much its present physical form before World War I. A fairly homogeneous socioeconomic cross-section--largely tradesmen and industrialists rather than professionals, and including a number of families related by marriage and business association--remained until World War II. In the decades after the war, several of the residences were replaced or altered for institutional use. More recently, however, as a result of the increased visibility ironically provided by the adjacent parking lot, as well as because of the natural advantages of the site on a point of higher land bordered by major thoroughfares, and its proximity to downtown Lexington, the neighborhood has regained its identity with an influx of new owner-occupants, especially young professionals, concerned with restoration and preservation of the original character of the area.

 

(ADAPTED FROM: National Register of Historic Places)

 

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© Mark Fluehr, 2011