The Columns

Anthropology Students’ Work Comes to Life with The Many Stories of Main Street

— by on May 10th, 2017

“Keeping in touch with the historic uses of our buildings helps people connect emotionally with our beautiful downtown. This program will set the stage for further exploration and sharing of Lexington’s past.”

Families and people of all ages are encouraged to take part in “The Many Stories of Main Street,” an interpretive downtown Lexington walking tour where one can learn about past generations who lived and worked in Lexington’s historic buildings.

The tour is based on research comprised of both archival and oral history, completed over the past few years by anthropology students at Washington and Lee University. “Students taking a variety of courses, including the Anthropology of American History and Qualitative Methods, researched the original owners and proprietors of downtown Lexington’s historic buildings and developed interesting and engaging ways to tell their stories,” said Alison Bell, associate professor of anthropology at W&L.

“The students’ work also highlights the importance of historic preservation. Many of these buildings were saved by Historic Lexington Foundation, and without their work to preserve them we would not be able to learn from and enjoy them today.”

There are six stops on the free, family-friendly tour of North Main Street, which begins at the old Courthouse Square, at the intersection of Main and Washington Streets, and ends at First Baptist Church, on Saturday, May 13 from 2 pm – 4 pm.

Central Hotel, Brower Post Card Collection, W&L Special Collections

At each of the sites, hosts from the Historic Lexington Foundation will welcome visitors and share photos and information on how historic preservation allows us to remember and learn about the people who lived, worked and shopped along North Main Street. The hosts will also discuss the history and architecture of the buildings, while Washington and Lee students will serve as interpreters, representing historic characters and narrating their stories.

Several stops will include interactive displays and activities, and children who visit each stop and have a designated card stamped can receive a free donut from Pure Eats at the end of the tour.

“Main Street Lexington is very excited by ‘The Many Stories of Main Street’,” said Stephanie Wilkinson, Main Street Lexington’s executive director. “As an organization founded on the concept of ‘economic revitalization in the context of historic preservation,’ we know that keeping in touch with the historic uses of our buildings helps people connect emotionally with our beautiful downtown. This program will set the stage for further exploration and sharing of Lexington’s past.”

The tour is sponsored by First Baptist Church, the Historic Lexington Foundation, Main Street Lexington and Washington and Lee University’s department of sociology and anthropology.