Lexington's Historic Courthouse Re-Dedicated

Nov 20, 2018

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray along with city and court officials and community members ringed the courthouse for the ribbon cutting
Credit Stu Johnson

Lexington's Historic Courthouse is open to the public Sunday until 5:00 p.m.  It is located at 215 West Main Street.  Enter the building off Short Street.

Lexington’s historic courthouse has been re-dedicated Tuesday. It came with fanfare and an all-encompassing ribbon cutting which circled the building.

A large crowd braved chilly November temperatures to officially recognize a historical transformation.  Lexington Mayor Jim Gray says there have been four courthouses on the downtown site, with this one opening in 1900. “Fast forward to another 118 years to today and we are rededicating this temple after we came close to losing it to decay decline and neglect,” said Gray.

With a growing community and growing judicial needs, the stone structure off Main Street couldn’t keep up.  A move to the courthouse complex a block away came in 2002.  Retired Kentucky Supreme Court Justice and former Fayette Circuit Court Judge Mary Noble says for more than a century life in various forms played out in the historic courthouse. “Overseeing the law of this Commonwealth and the law of this country, hearing claims of all kinds from the most depraved criminal cases to the joyous moment when a parent adopted a new baby,” noted Noble.

After the new courthouse opened, the old courthouse became local museum space, considered as a new city hall, and even the subject of demolition.  Mayor Jim Gray says a public-private partnership eventually won out. “That allowed us, the city, to create a project that is going to sustain itself from the rents that are being paid.  So, the city doesn’t have the long-term responsibility of sustaining the building and propping it up.  It’s going to be able to sustain itself and that’s such a big deal,” explained Gray.

Today, the courthouse rotunda is an event space, along with VisitLex, the Breeders Cup offices, and a new restaurant in other parts of the building.