Lexington’s Military History

Kentucky has undoubtedly been an important player in America’s major wars. Home to historical buildings such as Memorial Hall, Memorial Coliseum, and the Ashland Estate, Lexington has a great number of tangible monuments of the wars that citizens and travelers alike can visit to learn about the rich military history of the Commonwealth.

Military officers at University of Kentucky. (Photo courtesy of UK Libraries).

Military officers at University of Kentucky. (Photo courtesy of UK Libraries).

The University of Kentucky Campus

In 1918, the University of Kentucky became a training base for World War I. Then in WWII, the introduction of the GI Bill caused the university’s student population to skyrocket, and many living spaces and classroom buildings were built to accommodate the rapidly expanding number of students. Ever since then, the University has been dedicated to honoring those that have served, and continue to serve, our country.


Memorial Hall (Photo courtesy of UK Libraries).

Memorial Hall (Photo courtesy of UK Libraries).

Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall was the first building on UK’s campus that was dedicated to fallen soldiers. Built in 1929, Memorial Hall honored those who were killed during World War I.


Memorial Coliseum

Memorial Coliseum is best known as being the home of Kentucky’s men’s basketball team for 26 years, but it was built to commemorate Kentuckians who had died in WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. The names of all who fell in those wars, and in the Vietnam war, can be found on the walls of Memorial Coliseum.


The Ashland Estate

Henry Clay's estate, Ashland, exterior (Photo courtesy of UK Libraries).

Henry Clay’s estate, Ashland, exterior (Photo courtesy of UK Libraries).

The Ashland Estate belonged to Henry Clay, or “The Great Compromiser” as he was known. He lived before the Civil War and was one of the most influential politicians of his time. However, after his death and during the Civil War, his sons and grandsons took differing sides. The Clay family split in half, and the estate was auctioned. Later, it was the site of a skirmish following the Battle of Perryville.


Lexington Cemetery Gateway (Photo Courtesy of UK Libraries).

Lexington Cemetery Gateway (Photo Courtesy of UK Libraries).

               Lexington Cemetery

500 Confederate and more than 1,000 Union veterans are buried in this cemetery. Some of the more prominent figures laid to rest here are John Hunt Morgan, who was a Confederate general, and John C. Breckenridge, who was the Secretary of War of the Confederate States of America.

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About University Press of Kentucky

The University Press of Kentucky has a dual mission—the publication of books of high scholarly merit in a variety of fields for a largely academic audience and the publication of books about the history and culture of Kentucky, the Ohio Valley region, the Upper South, and Appalachia. The Press is the statewide mandated nonprofit scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, operated as an agency of the University of Kentucky and serving all state institutions of higher learning, plus five private colleges and Kentucky's two major historical societies.

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