A social and cultural landmark in Lexington's East End neighborhood now has an even greater distinction. On Wednesday the Charles Young Center was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Mayor Jim Gray, First District Councilman James Brown and other community representatives unveiled the official marker that will now grace the property.
Charles Young Advisory Board member Larry Johnson said some of his fondest childhood memories involved watching basketball games in the center's basement gymnasium.
"I can see the cheerleaders with their pom poms jumping, and I can see the teams running up and down the court and when they scored the crowd went wild," Johnson recalled.
The center, the first constructed exclusively for Lexington's African American community back in the 1930's is every bit as vital now for East End residents, said Johnson.
"There's a community room on the first floor, we've been using that room for meetings and activities, for dance classes, and jewelry making. We are now looking at putting a big screen TV in there so kids can have a safe place to come and watch movies. We also have a computer room for young people who don't have computer access at home to be able to come and maybe apply for jobs," Johnson told WUKY.
The center is named for Kentuckian Charles Young, the son of an emancipated slave and the first African American to hold the rank of Colonel in the United States Army.
Bettie Young, director of Lexington's Department of Historic Preservation, says the honor is well deserved.
"It is its role in the history and heritage of the African American community in Lexington. It's also an indication and an acknowledgment that (these) three acres is something that when it came to be and continues to be today is representative of an important part of our cultural history," Kerr said.
First District Councilman James Brown says the Young Center remains a vital social and cultural hub for the East End neighborhood.
"The plaque and the recognition couldn't have come at a better time as this community prepares to celebrate the East End family reunion this weekend here at Charles Young Park. Charles Young is the anchor of the East End. It's a special place that holds a lot of memories for multiple generations of Lexingtonians," Brown said.