Gardenside Restoration and Mural Project

Art in Motion has received funding from LFUCG, Lextran, non-profit group Lexington Directions, and property owners Pierson Trapp Company totaling $46,000 for the Gardenside Restoration and Mural Project.

Built in 1959 by the owners of the Gardenside shopping center, the structure incorporates a bus shelter, but is much more.  The shopping center owners spent $8,500 on the structure, an impressive investment in 1950s dollars.  According to a newspaper report, this was the first time private capital had been used in Lexington to build a shelter for public transit.

archival photo and HL article

The style of the structure is classic mid-century modern architecture with lettering and a light feature on top constructed of stainless steel with neon tube lighting.  According to heirs of the original owners, the architecture was inspired specifically by transit shelters and other architecture of the time in Miami Beach, Florida.  

Our proposed renovations are:

  • Release a public Call for Artists to commission a ceramic glass mosaic art mural for the inside back wall of the shelter.
  • Restore the stainless steel lettering and repairing the vintage stainless steel light fixture on top of the sign column.
  • Replace all broken neon lights (high energy consuming) behind lettering and in top light fixture with low wattage LED light fixtures.
  • Clean the brick sign column and remove peeling paint where the original brick portion of the shelter has been painted
  • Repair, clean and/or repaint the concrete cantilevered portion of the structure
  • Replace the current bench with seating of modern design that will complement the mid-century modern architecture and prevent anyone from lying down on the bench.
  • Other possible improvements include planting native flowers and plants around the shelter.  We will seek in-kind donations of labor and materials to plant and maintain this community garden.

Though privately owned, the shelter is currently used by Lextran riders and others who need a place to sit in the shade or out of the rain.   The structure is an iconic presence in the west end/Alexandria Drive area, with many long-time residents expressing great affection for it.   The new partners and trust that own the aged shopping center are investing major resources in restoring and upgrading the buildings and parking lot and bringing in new tenants.

Since we were approached by neighborhood representatives in 2011, Art in Motion has worked with a group of partners to raise funds for the renovation and restoration of the shelter and sign.  This effort is part of a larger effort to redevelop the Gardenside shopping district and surrounding neighborhood that includes a major new mixed used development by Holly Wiedemann/AU Associates nearby.

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11th District Lexington-Fayette County council member Peggy Henson sees an opportunity to help revitalize the Gardenside area by working with LexTran and local non-profit Art in Motion to renovate the 1950s-era bus shelter in front of Gardenside Shopping Center.  The historic bus shelter has fall into disrepair over the years, so Henson has brought together a group of neighborhood stakeholders and retail property owners to consider refurbishing the structure and adding an art mural.  Other possible improvements include planting native flowers and plants around the shelter and repairing the period stainless steel light at the top.

Art in Motion works with LexTran, LexArts and LFUCG to build artistic transit shelters around Lexington.  Basic amenities such as transit shelters with seating help increase ridership on our public buses which, in turn, reduces traffic congestion and climate-changing carbon pollution.  Art shelters have the added benefit of bringing public art to our neighborhoods.

Art in Motion has submitted an application for a small grant to get the project started and other committee members hope to seek additional dollars from organizations that fund historic protection and transportation enhancement.  LexTran has provided matching funds for all of the art shelters built so far and it is hoped matching funds will be available for this project as well.

Community members who would like to support this project can donate online by clicking on the ‘Donations’ link above.  Donations are fully tax-deductible and can also be mailed to Art in Motion in care of BGCF at 250 West Main St., Ste.1220, Lexington, KY 40507 with “Gardenside project” noted on the check.



Historic Structure is Documented by UK Department of Anthropology’s KY Archaeological Survey

AIM extends a big thank you to Janie-Rice Brother and architect-intern Jonna Wallace of the KY Archaeological Survey in the UK Department of Anthropology for their contribution to the Gardenside Restoration Project.  Jonna documented the sign and shelter in detailed architectural drawings in the event the owners ever want to apply for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, which would qualify it for state and federal tax credits without conveying any restrictions on the property owners.

Janie-Rice describes the structure as “a unique feature that is significant in Lexington’s post-war growth and development of both residential suburbs and their accompanying shopping centers.”

View the drawings here:

Gardenside_A2 2 west sideGardenside_A2 1 east sideGardenside_A1 0 groundlevel

1 Response to Gardenside Restoration and Mural Project

  1. Don says:

    This would be a good step in maintaining our Neighborhood.

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