Historical Buildings, Lexington

Historical Buildings (Self Guided), Lexington

Historical buildings in Lexington, Kentucky, serve as time capsules, reflecting the architectural and cultural history of the region. A good number of these structures are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, each having its own story to tell. Let's explore a few notable structures that have made significant architectural contributions to the cityscape of Lexington.

The foremost of them is the Mary Todd Lincoln House, the childhood home of the former First Lady, wife of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

The Hunt-Morgan House, otherwise known as Hopemont, showcases Federal style and was once home to John Wesley Hunt, a prominent early Kentucky settler.

The McAdams and Morford Building, much like the Higgins Block, represent examples of 19th-century commercial architecture, reflecting Lexington's economic growth and prosperity during that era.

The Randall Building, with its striking Italianate Victorian design, is an architectural gem from the late 19th century.

The Odd Fellows Temple holds a special place as a historic fraternal lodge, underscoring the social and community aspects of Lexington's past.

Lastly, the Pope Villa, an early 19th-century home, designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, showcases avant-garde architecture and reflects the influence of Thomas Jefferson's ideas.

Collectively, these centuries-old buildings are more than just bricks and mortar but a live representation of the unique history of Lexington. On this self-guided walk, we invite you to visit them, absorb their stories, and learn about the city's development, influential figures, and changing architectural styles.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Historical Buildings Map

Guide Name: Historical Buildings
Guide Location: USA » Lexington (See other walking tours in Lexington)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Author: emily
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Mary Todd Lincoln House
  • Hunt-Morgan (Hopemont) House
  • McAdams and Morford Building
  • Higgins Block
  • Randall Building
  • Odd Fellows Temple
  • Pope Villa
Mary Todd Lincoln House

1) Mary Todd Lincoln House (must see)

Mary Todd Lincoln House was the childhood home of Mary Todd, the future first lady and wife of the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. Today the fourteen-room house is a museum containing period furniture, portraits, and artifacts from the Todd and Lincoln families. The museum introduces visitors to the complex life of Mary Todd Lincoln, from her refined upbringing in a wealthy, slave-holding family to her reclusive years as a mourning widow.

The house was built c. 1803–1806 as an inn and tavern, which was called "The Sign of the Green Tree" before its purchased by Mary's father, Robert Smith Todd, for the Todd family. The family moved into the three-story home in 1832. Mary Todd lived in this home until 1839, when she moved to Springfield, Illinois. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln visited her family here.

In the mid-1970s, Beula C. Nunn, wife of Governor Louie B. Nunn, along with the Kentucky Mansions Preservation Foundation, Inc., and the Metropolitan Women's Club of Lexington, gained support to preserve and restore the Mary Todd Lincoln House. Today the enclosed gardens contain trees, plants, herbs and shrubs that represent what may have been in the gardens at the Todd home in the early nineteenth century.

The property is open to the public as a historic house museum.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Hunt-Morgan (Hopemont) House

2) Hunt-Morgan (Hopemont) House (must see)

The Hunt–Morgan House, historically known as Hopemont, is a Federal style residence in Lexington built in 1814 by John Wesley Hunt, the first millionaire west of the Alleghenies. The house is included in the Gratz Park Historic District. The Alexander T. Hunt Civil War Museum is located on the second floor of the Hunt–Morgan House.

Other notable people who resided at Hopemont include John Wesley Hunt's great-grandson, Dr. Thomas Hunt Morgan. Born in the house in 1866, he became the first Kentuckian to win the Nobel Prize.

The House has many beautiful architectural features, including the Palladian window with fan and sidelights that grace its front façade. The Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation maintains the Hunt-Morgan House. In addition to providing tours, they also host events, including art shows and weddings.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
McAdams and Morford Building

3) McAdams and Morford Building

The McAdams and Morford Building, also known as the Melodeon Hall, is a 3-story commercial building constructed in 1849. An Italianate cast iron facade was added after 1857. Druggists McAdams & Morford occupied a corner space in the building 1898–1994.

The building was home to Lexington's Melodeon Hall, a theater and meeting space with seating for 300 patrons. Robert Jefferson Breckinridge addressed a gathering at the Melodeon in 1861, and his remarks helped to preserve Kentucky as a Union state during the American Civil War, although Kentucky maintained separate Union and Confederate state governments during the war.

The Commercial College of the University of Kentucky (which back then was known as Transylvania University) occupied the building for 35 years. In 1908 the college was incorporated separately from the university as the Wilbur R. Smith Business College.

The McAdams and Morford building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Higgins Block

4) Higgins Block

The Higgins Block, also known as the Fayette Cigar Store is a 3-story brick building designed by John McMurtry and constructed in 1872. The cast iron, Italianate facade originally contained five storefronts on West Main Street, each with three window bays. The surviving 2-storefront building is a remnant of the original commercial block, shortened in 1912 when construction of the Fayette National Bank Building required demolition of part of the Higgins Block.

John Allen Higgins (1831-1880) was a planter who owned a farm near Lexington and a plantation in Arkansas. He was a son of Joel Higgins (1802-1859) and lived at Lexington's Higgins Mansion (1837-2017) until his death.

The Higgins Block were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Randall Building

5) Randall Building

The Randall Building, also known as Bogaert's Jewelry Store, dates from the 19th century. The Italianate Victorian style building can be found on the West Main Street. The Randall Building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
Odd Fellows Temple

6) Odd Fellows Temple

The Odd Fellows Temple was built in 1870 by American architect Cincinnatus Shryock. The building, also known as Skullers Jewelry, is an example of the Second Empire and Italianate architecture. The Odd Fellows Temple was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Pope Villa

7) Pope Villa

The Pope Villa in Lexington was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe in 1811 for Senator John Pope. It is one of only three extant Latrobe residences in the United States. As one of Latrobe's most avant-garde designs, the Pope Villa has national significance for its architect and unique design.

Purchased in 1987 by the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation, the Pope Villa underwent restoration in the 2010s to reflect its 1811 original construction appearance. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Lexington, Kentucky

Create Your Own Walk in Lexington

Create Your Own Walk in Lexington

Creating your own self-guided walk in Lexington is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Lexington Introduction Walking Tour

Lexington Introduction Walking Tour

Lexington is Kentucky's second-largest city and the Fayette County seat. The city is most famous for the Thoroughbred racing industry but has so much to offer besides attractions related to racing. This city dates back to 1782 when Kentucky was still part of the Commonwealth of Virginia and was settled by frontiersmen under the leadership of William McConnell.

During the 19th century, the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles