Robert H. Williams Cultural Center renovations begin

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The building on the corner of Georgetown and Ash Street has a long history in Lexington’s community. It was formerly the site of the Lexington Colored Orphan Industrial Home, which operated there from 1892 to 1988. In 1988, it became the Robert H. Williams Cultural Center, which is now getting a new look.

One of the center’s board members, Tora Carter, says, “In recent years the building needs some repairs. So, it’s not feasible to host those programming and education outlets. So, we’re really looking to restore this building to bring life back into the center.”

It’s getting a new roof, a portion of the project that has been in the works for more than a year. They’re finally getting the roof they need to keep moving forward with more renovations.

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Phillip Petrie is the president of Craftsmen Contractors, which is taking on the project. He says, “Usually, we would have been done in probably two days. But with the decking, that took another whole day at least. We’re hoping to be done by tomorrow (Saturday). We’ll see how that goes.”

The project was funded through donations alongside community partners. Many came out to celebrate the work, including Guide Realty. Its owner, Raquel Carter, says everyone needs to know this history.

“Being able to understand what a treasure and what a wealth of history they have here is what’s important,” says Carter.

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Yvonne Giles is a community historian who has researched the building. It has served the Lexington area since its founding by a group of Black women who cared for the young and elderly. The building has stood since 1912.

Giles says, “Well it just solidifies the power when you have a group of dedicated people — whether they are men or women — who know, who see a need in the community, who just step forward to do it.”

She hopes future generations will carry on its legacy.

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“I’m just excited and this is just the beginning of all of their renovation and restoration and reintroduction to the facility into the community,” says Giles.

Tora Carter says, “I truly believe when you come in and see this space your imagination goes wild and you want to know how can I get involved, how can I be impactful.”





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