Dr. Walter Warfield Building Central to Lexington Commerce

Dr. Walter Warfield Building - Lexington, Ky.
John Jordan, Jr. was a major nineteenth century Lexington merchant who owned most of the property fronting the courthouse square along Upper Street. The block between Short and Main streets was known as Jordan's Row. At the northern end of the block is the Dr. Walter Warfield Building which was built around 1806.

Dr. Warfield was a noted surgeon from the Revolutionary War from Maryland who ultimately settled in the Bluegrass as a "highly esteemed and excellent citizen." As with any "esteemed and excellent citizen" of the day, Warfield amassed significant land holdings in the region.

From his sister-in-law, Elizabeth Christian Dickerson, Warfield purchased 1,000 acres in 1805. This land was situated in what is now both Fayette and Scott counties. Ms. Dickerson had inherited the land from her father (William Christian) in 1786; he had acquired the land (and 8,000 other acres) by grant from Virginia Governor Patrick Henry in 1779. After being sold, inherited, and divided, these acres have had a storied history with storied names in the equine industry. Today, however, much of Warfield's acreage is now owned by the Commonwealth of Kentucky as part of the Kentucky Horse Park.

Downtown, Dr. Warfield had built a two-story brick building in the late-Georgian style. An 1870 remodel added the notable Mansard roof and dormers creating a third-story. A number of changes through the years have made it difficult to imagine the building's original appearance, but some clues linger. The stone belt-course between the first and second floors, the lovely keystones over the second-story windows, and a sliver of the original stone water-table remains between the main entrance and the plain shop window.

1970s (Photo: NRHP)Today
Over the years, the building has had many varying occupants. For those who have worked downtown for years, the corner diner has taken many names. In the 1930s, it was Southern Brothers. In the 1940s, Wallace Brothers. For many years, it was A Family Affair (see 1970s photo, above). Currently it houses Della's Diner, an excellent source of grilled chefs and inexpensive comfort diner foods in a setting that is both clean and quintessentially diner.

The National Register listing also includes 148 West Short Street, a mid-19th century Greek Revival with gable roof and storefronts. Two story with 9 bays, a number of shops have called the building home for many, many years. The Dr. Walter Warfield Building has been and continues to be central to Lexington's center of commerce.

Della's Diner on Urbanspoon
Sources: Downtown Inventory; NRHP