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Gratz Park

Between Second, Mill, Third, and Market Streets (across from Hopemont), Lexington, KY 40507

Gratz Park became Lexington's first local historic district in 1958, and is surrounded by the remnants of Fayette County hemp history. From the homes of hemp manufacturers, to the properties that were once ropewalks and bagging factories, Gratz Park could be considered the core of the antebellum Kentucky hemp industry. 

The son of William Leavy, an early Lexington settler and merchant, described the blocks surrounding the college during 1803-1811: “The lot, when I first went to college, had a post and rail fence on Second Street toward Third Street, and on Third Street, but the northwest side was Thos. January’s inclosure. His hemp building was on Second Street, corner of Mill, and the rope-walk adjoining the college lot. The southeast side also had a rope-walk adjoining the college lot. It belonged to John Kerns with a hemp house on the corner of Second and Market.”

The park itself is named after Benjamin Gratz, another Lexington hemp manufacturer who lived at Mt. Hope located at 231 N. Mill Street and went into business with Col. James Morrison who left the funds for "Morrison College" which is now the administration building for Transylvania University which overlooks the park on Third Street. The fountain located on the northside of the park is a tribute to James Lane Allen, a Kentucky author who wrote "The Reign of Law: A Tale of the Kentucky Hemp Fields" in 1900. Needless to say, there's a signifiant amount of hemp history rooted in Gratz Park and the surrounding neighborhood. Click here to learn more about Gratz Park. For a hemp history walking tour of Gratz Park and Downtown Lexington, click here.

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