Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lowering the streets

The Alexander-Withrow Building at Washington and Main, seen from the steps of the old courthouse.

The building at left was one of two to survive the fire of 1796. (I posted earlier about it, here.) From the old courthouse steps you get a good view of the exposed foundation, which is part of one of the more unusual stories in Lexington history.

Prior to 1851, the streets leading to the center of town were so steep that at times, particularly in wet weather, it was difficult for heavily-laden horse-drawn vehicles to make the climb. The townspeople decided the lower the grade - most markedly in the area shown above - at great difficulty and expense. The Alexander-Withrow Building gained an entire story that had been below grade, as did several other buildings. Structures in the vicinity built before 1851 show the evidence of the street-lowering, including the Dold Building across the street.

Not a few Main St. residences ended up with their front doors five or six feet off the sidewalk! (I'll show you how they adjusted to that in an upcoming post.)


Marc said...

And what about that huge cannon?

mkhansen said...

The fact is, I know nothing about the cannon -- I'll have to get back to you about that. (My guess is it's a Civil War cannon, though.)