Whenever we visit Kentucky, we are frequently struck by how many very old homes still stand. Here in Indiana, buildings from before about 1850 are rare. Not so in Kentucky — we’ve seen homes built in the late 1700s there.
The South Hill neighborhood in Lexington is just southwest of downtown. You can see the city’s tallest building, Lexington Financial Center, from all over the neighborhood — indeed, from many places in the city.
South Hill’s homes were built from the early 1800s through the early 1900s, and are a mix of architectural styles. Here are a few of the homes.
While Margaret and I were in Kentucky a few weekends ago, we visited four distilleries. Two were in Lexington, and the other two were in nearby Frankfort. We’ve been on enough distillery tours now that there’s little new for us to learn about the whiskey-making process. We just want to cut right to the tasting at the end! Fortunately, during COVID, many distilleries are dispensing with their tours in favor of quick tastings, either outside or in a very well ventilated space. That’s just fine for us!
The first distillery was Bluegrass Distillers in Lexington’s Fayette Park neighborhood. They started with a tasting, and then walked us quickly through their small facility. Their most interesting spirit is a bourbon distilled from blue corn.
Our next stop was at Castle and Key Distillery near Frankfort. They were open only for walks around the grounds, although you could buy flights of their product to sample while you were there. They distill gin and vodka in addition to bourbon and rye. We sipped every spirit they offered and thought their Autumn 2019 gin was the most delicious. This site was originally the Old Taylor Distillery, and its sign still hangs over the main door.
Next we visited the Glenns Creek Distillery, which is on the original site of the Old Crow Distillery. If you ever visit, do not let your map application take you down Hanly Lane to get there, as we did. The last segment of it is barely one lane wide with a steep dropoff on one side. It is a butt-puckering, white-knuckle drive. When we left we went the other way — and within a half mile passed Castle and Key, on a wide and safe state highway. Had we only known!
Where Castle and Key was polished and shiny, Glenns Creek was, well, decrepit and dumpy. But we had the best experience of our weekend there. They offered only a tasting, but the fellow who led it was fun and entertaining. He is also one of the distillery’s owners. He grew up in Panama, played professional basketball for a while (including a stint with the Indiana Pacers), and has turned to distilling later in his life. His stories were incredible. So was their OCD #5 bourbon.
Finally, we returned to Lexington to visit the James E. Pepper Distillery. This is an old name in distilleries, but it is only recently reopened after a 50-year hiatus. Really, this is a new distillery with an old name. It looks like they are only now beginning to sell whiskeys they distill on site; previously, they sold whiskeys they bought from other distilleries (mostly the giant MGP in Indiana). Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
More than just the cherry trees were in bloom during our visit to Lexington Cemetery. Given that these trees’ flowers probably lasted only a couple weeks, our visit could not have been more fortunately timed.
Military graves in Lexington Cemetery Nikon Df, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor 2021
Lexington National Cemetery is a one-acre section of Lexington Cemetery containing about 1,700 graves. It was created in 1861 for Civil War dead. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but the graves are arranged in concentric circles around a central memorial.
I love a good cemetery. So, it seems, do the people of Lexington, Kentucky. Their largest cemetery, Lexington Cemetery, was full of people on the spring afternoon Margaret and I visited.
I’d never seen a cemetery with so many people in it. There was no funeral — people were just there to enjoy it, as they would a large park. At first I thought it was a little odd, so many people walking and relaxing in this place of the dead. I like doing that, but I think I’m unusual. I usually have cemeteries largely or entirely to myself. Not in Lexington!
The flowering trees were in bloom on this early spring Saturday. Margaret and I walked and photographed the lovely scenery. And then we came upon the cherry blossoms.
A long lane in the cemetery was blocked to cars, and was full of people strolling slowly through. Easily a dozen people had brought a photographer with them to make individual and group portraits here. We had never seen anything like it!
Margaret and I spent last weekend in and around Lexington, Kentucky. It was our first getaway as a couple since our trip to Bardstown last October, and hoo boy, did we need this. Even though both of us have had our first COVID-19 vaccination shots, we still took steps to keep ourselves and others safe from the virus: we rented an Airbnb to avoid hotel lobbies and so we could make our own breakfast, and we took the rest of our meals at restaurants but outside. We did a few distillery tours, wearing masks. But mostly, we walked around Lexington with our cameras.
The Gratz Park neighborhood is just northeast of downtown, with Transylvania University on its northeast edge. It’s a small neighborhood of ten city blocks and a park. Established in 1781, many of the homes and other buildings here were built in the first half of the 1800s.
Here now, the doors.
Here are a couple photos that take a wider view, so you can get a feel for the neighborhood.