Some Harry, Willy Shotguns Demolished in Lexington [DEMO WATCH]

Top: 505, 511, and 513 Willy Street. Bottom: 530 and 532 Harry Street. Shotguns demolished in April 2015.
Source photos: Fayette PVA
A recent column by Tom Eblen indicates that parts of Lexington's aged housing stock is being adapted, repurposed, and given new life. And although much of the historic qualities of the home's being remodeled may be lost, the overall streetscape is being enhanced as are the values of the properties.

Of course, these transitions create another potential problem. Increased property values can make it too costly for longtime residents to remain in the neighborhood. As Lexington struggles with finding suitable and adequate affordable housing opportunities, a balance must be struck.

But five properties were recently not afforded such the opportunity to be rehabilitated. Three shotguns on Willy Street and another two on Harry Street have been recently demolished after earning a demo permit from the city.

Willy Street

Built in 1900, 505 Willy Street was the oldest of the 5 shotguns demolished. And at 704 square feet, it was also the largest. The other two Willy Street shotguns were each built ca. 1910 according to PVA records, though they do appear on the 1907 Sanborn map and are thus older than originally believed.

On today's map, Willy Street is an "L" shaped road that connects Smith Street and Fifth Street. The legal description of each of these properties includes a reference to "Wallace's Lot." This, according to the Lexington Streetsweeper, is a reference to a plat recorded at Cabinet E-19 on May 11, 1889 by John B. Wallace as he was dividing the property on which his Sixth Street Home stood (450 W. Sixth). According to the 1907 Sanborn Map, the portion of Willy Street that intersects Smith Street used to be known as Alford Street while the portion intersecting Fifth Street was once known as Hanson Street.

The only reference found in the local newspaper archives to any of these three addresses is from the Lexington Leader's "colored notes" of December 3, 1912. It reads that "William Finch, a highly respected citizen, aged 37 years, who died Monday at his late residence, 513 Alford street, leaves a wife, daughter, mother, two sisters, three brothers to mourn their loss."

Harry Street

The narrow alley of Harry Street lies behind North Limestone on the highways west side, extending for one block to both the north and south of Sixth Street. Along Harry Street, two structures were recently demolished. Both single-story structures were constructed in the shotgun style with two bays: one window and a door apiece. According to PVA records, each residence was 12' x 48' in dimension with both having a 5' deep covered front porch.

In terms of layout, the Harry Street shotguns were mirror images of one another. Both were constructed in 1910 and each had a 544 square foot floor plan with four rooms including a single bedroom and a single bath.

The house at 530 Harry was nearly destroyed once before: a 1925 fire destroyed a neighboring structure and left the vacant 530 Harry in poor repair. It appears, however, to have been rebuilt following that instance. In October 1931, the "colored notes" of the Lexington Leader identify John Johnson as having lived and died at his residence in this home, noting that burial would be "in a family lot in Taterstown cemetery in Bourbon county." A decade later, the newspapers' "colored notes" observed the death of another of the home's occupants: Rev. Levi Garner. Rev. Garner is interred at Highland Cemetery which today is nestled between the Forbes Rd. stockyards and the Town Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant.