New app enables multimedia tour of area rich in African American and racing history

LEXINGTON, KY  – Keeneland today announced its sponsorship of the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation (BGT)’s virtual tour of the historic East End of Lexington, the site of the old Kentucky Association Race Track and an area rich in the history of African American horsemen such as Isaac Murphy, Ed Brown and Jimmy Winkfield.

“Lexington’s East End Walking Tour” may be taken either physically or virtually through the neighborhoods historically known as Kindkeadtown, Gunntown and Goodloetown. 

Keeneland’s support of the project includes the purchase of the Curatescape framework that enables a mobile, multimedia virtual tour of East End neighborhoods, businesses, streets and the homes of distinguished citizens. 

“The Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation is grateful for Keeneland’s sponsorship of our first virtual walking tour,” BGT Preservation Specialist Brittany Sams said. “The focus on the historic East End highlights stories and individuals connected to the equine industry in Kentucky, the national music scene, the historic landscape and the community of Lexington itself.”

“Keeneland is honored to collaborate with the Blue Grass Trust on this initiative to showcase the historic East End and to celebrate its role and the contributions to horse racing by the African American community who lived and worked there,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “Keeneland is closely tied to the old Kentucky Association track; five of our current stakes races, including the oldest stakes race in the U.S., the Phoenix, originated there. Preserving this history as a service to the community is in keeping with Keeneland’s mission.”

Locate the virtual walking tour of the Historic East End at the Blue Grass Trust’s website or download the “Tour the Historic Bluegrass” mobile app from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

“The Blue Grass Trust is excited about every aspect of this tour: the focus, the community support in providing content, the opportunity to provide significant history of the area and the involvement of Keeneland as the presenting sponsor,” Blue Grass Trust President Janie Fergus said. “The BGT is proud to be part of this project, which highlights an important element of Lexington history.”

Thirty-two sites highlight the old Kentucky Association Race Track, which closed in 1933, and the African American horsemen who enjoyed great success there. The Equestrian View Neighborhood and the William Wells Brown Elementary School and Community Center now occupy the old track’s footprint. The tour also includes the African Cemetery No. 2, which dates back to the early 1800s, and describes the homes and lives of East End residents. A photo, a description and a Google map “pin” on the Tour the Historic Bluegrass app represent each site.

Tour participants also will learn about the lives and influence of those who were once part of the East End community and its historic African American churches, schools, entertainment venues, medical offices and other business enterprises. Interwoven in the tour commentary are the biographies of its prominent citizens: educator and coach Sanford Roach, West Point graduate Col. Charles Young, physician Dr. Thomas Wendell, pharmacist and entrepreneur Dr. Zirl Palmer, developer and building contractor Garrett David Wilgus, abolitionist Winn Gunn, composer Julia Perry and jazz musician Les McCann.

Links to articles, historic maps, websites, photo galleries, blog posts, musical performances, videos, and documentaries augment the site. Two poems written about the East End by former Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker bookend the tour. 

Historic documents, photos, maps and records housed by the Blue Grass Trust and contributions by many cultural heritage repositories complement the site. Among those repositories represented in the tour are Keeneland Library, University of Kentucky Special Collections, Kentucky Historical Society, National Register of Historic Places, International Museum of the Horse, Notable Kentucky African Americans database, Phoenix Rising, African Cemetery No. 2 and the Smithsonian.

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For more than 80 years, the Keeneland Association has devoted itself to the health and vibrancy of the Thoroughbred industry. The world’s largest Thoroughbred auction house, Keeneland conducts four sales a year, in January, April, September and November, and presents online auctions through the Keeneland Digital Sales Ring. Graduates of Keeneland sales dominate racing across the globe at every level. In April and October, Keeneland offers some of the highest caliber and richest Thoroughbred racing in the world. Keeneland hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in 2015 and 2020 and is holding the event again on Nov. 4-5, 2022. Uniquely structured, Keeneland is a privately held company with a not-for-profit mission that returns its earnings to the industry and the community in the form of higher purses and millions of dollars donated in support of horse industry initiatives and charitable contributions for education, research, and health and human services throughout Central Kentucky. Keeneland also maintains the Keeneland Library, a world-renowned public research institution with the mission of preserving information about the Thoroughbred industry. To learn more, visit Keeneland.com.

For more information contact Amy Gregory at 859 361-3490 or Amy Owens at 859 421-2566