The building was constructed in 1904 for use by the Young Men’s Christian Association. Like other YMCAs of the time, this place was used to promote evangelical Christianity, encourage sportsmanship and athleticism, and provide aid and housing. In 1920, the building was turned over to the Young Women’s Christian Association. They used it in the same fashion as their contemporaries, as a place to educate working women and promote social reform.
Over half a century later, in 1972, the city of Lexington founded the Lexington Arts and Cultural Council. More commonly known as LexArts, their goal was to be a catalyst for creating a progressive and innovative community inspired by the arts, and to promote the artistic experience for the people of Lexington through advocacy, funding, communication, and teaching initiatives. While this was initially conducted as a decentralized operation, it was soon apparent that they needed a home base of operations. As such in 1979; with the financial assistance of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, they purchased the building on 161 N. Mill St. from the YWCA, who still owned the site despite having moved to a new location. With the building now under their ownership, they began a 1.4-million-dollar renovation in 1980 and completed it in 1983. The building now known as the ArtsPlace would serve as the LexArts headquarters and continues to do so to the present day.
Compared to the building’s original exterior, very few changes were made. Apart from filling in some windows or converting them to doors on the left elevation, there have been no major alterations to the outside of the building.
In contrast with the exterior, significant work was done on the interior of the building. Scroll through the photos to view and learn about the changes made over time.
The renovation of the building is faithful to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Minimal change has been made to its distinctive materials, features, spaces and spatial relationships and its historic character has been preserved. Changes made to the ArtsPlace respect the original structure and are visually distinctive from past architecture.