1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lexington (Kentucky)

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LEXINGTON, a city and the county-seat of Fayette county, Kentucky, U.S.A., about 75 m. S. of Cincinnati. Pop. (1900) 26,369, of whom 10,130 were negroes and 924 were foreign-born; (1910 census), 35,099. It is served by the Louisville & Nashville, the Southern, the Chesapeake & Ohio, the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific, the Lexington & Eastern, and electric railways. The city, which lies at an altitude of about 950 ft., is situated near the centre of the celebrated “blue grass” region, into which extend a number of turnpike roads. Its public buildings include the court house and the Federal building, both built of Bowling Green oolitic limestone. Among the public institutions are two general hospitals—St Joseph’s (Roman Catholic) and Good Samaritan (controlled by the Protestant churches of the city)—the Eastern Lunatic Asylum (1815, a state institution since 1824), with 250 acres of grounds; a state House of Reform for Girls and a state House of Reform for Boys (both at Greendale, a suburb); an orphan industrial school (for negroes); and two Widows’ and Orphans’ Homes, one established by the Odd Fellows of Kentucky and the other by the Knights of Pythias of the state. Lexington is the seat of Transylvania University (non-sectarian; coeducational), formerly Kentucky University (Disciples of Christ), which grew out of Bacon College (opened at Georgetown, Ky., in 1836), was chartered in 1858 as Kentucky University, and was opened at Harrodsburg, Ky., in 1859, whence after a fire in 1864 it removed to Lexington in 1865. At Lexington it was consolidated with the old Transylvania University, a well-known institution which had been chartered as Transylvania Seminary in 1783, was opened near Danville, Ky., in 1785, was removed to Lexington in 1789, was re-chartered as Transylvania University in 1798, and virtually ceased to exist in 1859.[1] In 1908 Kentucky University resumed the old name, Transylvania University. It has a college of Liberal Arts, a College of Law, a Preparatory School, a Junior College for Women, and Hamilton College for women (founded in 1869 as Hocker Female College), over which the university assumed control in 1903, and a College of the Bible, organized in 1865 as one of the colleges of the university, but now under independent control. In 1907–1908 Transylvania University, including the College of the Bible, had 1129 students. At Lexington are the State University, two colleges for girls—the Campbell-Hagerman College and Sayre College—and St Catherine’s Academy (Roman Catholic). The city is the meeting-place of a Chatauqua Assembly, and has a public library. The State University was founded (under the Federal Land Grant Act of 1862) in 1865 as the State Agricultural and Mechanical College, was opened in 1866, and was a college of Kentucky University until 1878. In 1890 the college received a second Federal appropriation, and it received various grants from the state legislature, which in 1880 imposed a state tax of one-half of 1% for its support. In connexion with it an Agricultural Experiment Station was established in 1885. In 1908 its title became, by act of Legislature, the State University. The university has a College of Agriculture, a College of Arts and Science, a College of Law, a School of Civil Engineering, a School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, and a School of mining Engineering. The university campus is the former City Park, in the southern part of the city. In 1907–1908 the university had 1064 students. The city is the see of a Protestant Episcopal bishopric.

Lexington was the home of Henry Clay from 1797 until his death in 1852, and in his memory a monument has been erected, consisting of a magnesian-limestone column (about 120 ft.) in the Corinthian style and surmounted by a statue of Clay, the head of which was torn off in 1902 by a thunderbolt. Clay’s estate, “Ashland,” is now one of the best known of the stock-farms in the vicinity; the present house is a replica of Clay’s home. The finest and most extensive of these stock-farms, and probably the finest in the world, is “Elmendorf,” 6 m. from the city. On these farms many famous trotting and running horses have been raised. There are two race-tracks in Lexington, and annual running and trotting race meetings attract large crowds. The city’s industries consist chiefly in a large trade in tobacco, hemp, grain and live stock—there are large semi-annual horse sales—and in the manufacture of “Bourbon” whisky, tobacco, flour, dressed flax and hemp, carriages, harness and saddles. The total value of the city’s factory products in 1905 was $2,774,329 (46.9% more than in 1900).

Lexington was named from Lexington, Massachusetts, in 1775 by a party of hunters who were encamped here when they received the news of the battle of Lexington; the permanent settlement dates from 1779. It was laid out in 1781, incorporated as a town in 1782, and chartered as a city in 1832. The first newspaper published west of the Alleghany Mountains, the Kentucky Gazette, was established here in 1787, to promote the separation of Kentucky from Virginia. The first state legislature met here in 1792, but later in the same year Frankfort became the state capital. Until 1907, when the city was enlarged by annexation, its limits remained as they were first laid out, a circle with a radius of 1 m., the court house being its centre.

See G. W. Ranck, History of Lexington, Kentucky (Cincinnati, 1872).

  1. See Robert Peter, Transylvania University: Its Origin, Rise, Decline and Fall (Louisville, 1896), and his History of the Medical Department of Transylvania University (Louisville, 1905).