by Karen Hudson
Historic preservation students at the University of Kentucky are continuing their research on the Greater Gardenside area. In the fall they focused on completing chains of title and archival research for a few of the “island” homes, those houses located in the neighborhood prior to its development in the 1950s and 60s as a subdivision. The island houses are located at 937 Lane Allen, 2160 Versailles, 1528 Pine Meadow, 1620 Traveller, 1020 Lane Allen and 1710 Williamsburg Road.
One student discovered that 1710 Williamsburg Road was designed by Robert McMeekin, one of Kentucky’s most noted 20th century architects. Between 1934 and the 1970s, McMeekin, a Fayette County native and University of Kentucky graduate, designed or restored more than 100 buildings in Central Kentucky. McMeekin designed the home at 1710 Williamsburg early in his career.
McMeekin’s career got a jump start in 1934 when the young, little-known architect was chosen to design the Keeneland clubhouse and grandstand. He quickly became known as the “horsemen’s architect.” He went on to design the main residence and barns at Calumet Farm, the main house at Walnut Hall Farm and Poplar Hill Farm, Griffin Gate on Newtown Pike, Land’s End in Woodford County, Mr. and Mrs. Preston Madden’s Hamburg Place and the Clarence LeBus home on Richmond Road.
While McMeekin is well known for the homes he designed, he also built a number of well-known institutional structures, including Memorial Hall and E.J. Grehan Hall (journalism) on the UK campus and the old Henry Clay High School.
The UK Department of Historic Preservation hopes to soon be able to make all of the Greater Gardenside research, including that on the 1710 Williamsburg home, available to the community through an interactive website. Watch the Gardenside Neighborhood Association Facebook page and website for information about the website launch date.
(Karen Hudson, Ph.D., is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Historic Preservation at the University of Kentucky.)