Two statues, a military heritage commission, and the telling of history

Kentucky Revised Code. Legislative Research Commission.
The Kentucky Military Heritage Commission, until recently, was a little-known state agency. Over the past week, the Commission has received quite a bit of news, both locally and nationally, as Lexington considers what to do with two statutes presently standing in the public square.

Yesterday's unanimous vote by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council was to "support the relocation" of the two statutes, a decision that will ultimately be made by the Kentucky Military Heritage Commission.

The Statues

The two statues at issue are of John C. Breckinridge and John Hunt Morgan. Both men were slaveowners who took up arms against the United States during the Civil War. Both men came from prominent, white Lexington families who were instrumental in Lexington's 19th century growth and prominence (that familial success being achieved largely through the involuntary toil of slaves owned by the respective families).

An Unusual Landmark: Lexington's Miller House

The Miller House - 832 Lochmere Place, Lexington, Ky. Zillow
In 1988, Robert and Penny Miller commissioned José Oubrerie to design and build for them a home on a twenty-acre tract for them in what was then a rural part of Fayette County, Kentucky. An essay by John McMorrough contained in the book, Et in Suburbia Ego: José Oubrerie's Miller House, describes some of the Miller's ambitions with the project.

Oubrerie "liked Aldo van Eyck 's idea of 'a city is like a house, a house is like a city' and so he designed a structure where each resident might have their "own little house" "inside the citadel." While public or common areas dominate the ground level, each person would have their own exit from their "little house" allowing each occupant to have full independence from the other residents. With grown children, the Miller's sought that each member of the family could have their own space.

As the home rose from the ground, the fluid design continued to change. According to Oubrerie, this was a source of consternation among contractors but was one of the lessons the architect had learned from his mentor, LeCorbusier: "as long as something is not built, there is still time." In the design of the Miller House, the approach worked because the parts of the house were disassociated from one another. As new elements were introduced into the project, the site changed creating what Oubrerie called a "creative construction process."

The result is José Oubrerie's masterpiece.

A Day Journal: Lexington by Bike

For those that have followed this blog for some time, you know I think that Lexington is an amazing city. Whenever my sister comes to visit, I love taking her on a bike ride to show her what has changed in the city where we spent so many years growing up. So we did Lexington by bike.

We ventured recently on a 5-hour, 10.4 mile tour (no-destination-style at an ultra-leisurely pace) with just a couple of targets in mind: we wanted to enjoy a couple brews from stops on the Brewgrass Trail. I wanted to show her what's going on in the Distillery District and we wanted to pass our old Kentucky home.

We pulled our bikes off the bike rack where we parked on North Limestone in front of LTMS. We passed the old the old Episcopal mission on Fourth Street before cutting through the campus of Transylvania University and beside Old Morrison.

A Cinematic deTour: Belle Brezing

Belle Brezing. UK Now Photo.
Kentucky's most reputed madame is the subject of July's Blue Grass Trust deTour which will feature a showing of Belle Brezing and the Gilded Age of the Bluegrass

This Kentucky production tells the story of Belle Brezing, the Lexington madam with a nationwide reputation for running the Victorian era’s most “Orderly of Dis-Orderly homes.” With a head for business in the business of sex, Belle’s story is woven into the age when the equine and bourbon industries grew to new heights. In her influential parlors, she and her ladies plied their trade from the end of the 19th century through the start of World War I. The film details Brezing’s journey from hardscrabble youth to the “Baroness of the Brothel,” while becoming the nearly undeniable inspiration for Belle Watley in Gone with the Wind. Produced and directed by Doug High.
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