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New signs installed for Henry A. Tandy Centennial Park in downtown Lexington

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 5:00 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A popular spot in downtown Lexington has a new addition. Henry A. Tandy Centennial Park, formerly known as Cheapside, has new signs.

The blue markers advertise the space’s new name that was voted on back in August of last year.

The park now has a new look, named for a man who laid an important part of Lexington’s foundation.

“He was born around 1854, which means he would’ve been born enslaved in Kentucky,” said Maureen Peters, an architect and member of the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation.

Tandy made his way from Estill to Fayette County. He lived down the street from the park that is now his namesake.

“He worked with Garrett D. Wilgus, who was a contractor and he became a brick mason by 1877. He was listed under his own name as a brick layer in Lexington,” Peters said.

He is best known for doing the brick work at the old courthouse. Peters said his work can be seen all around Kentucky.

“They had a huge successful practice in Lexington construction, all kinds of buildings, many of which still stand,” Peters said.

Now his name is up next to the brick he laid.

“It’s wonderful. We’ve been as a nation going through the changes of thinking Cheapside wasn’t an acceptable name,” Peters said.

The group ‘Take Back Cheapside’ has called for changes to the park to make it a welcoming space for everyone. In a statement, organizer DeBraun Thomas said:

“We are proud to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Henry A. Tandy. Mr. Tandy’s work still can be seen in buildings in Lexington and Central Kentucky, but his legacy is more than that; it is one of empowerment and representation. Henry A. Tandy Centennial Park is the one of the first of many steps towards healing and reconciliation.”

Peters said the successful entrepreneur’s work shouldn’t be overlooked.

“The whole dome structure, all of the arches that are inside there, all of that would have been incorporated into the brick work. While a lot of people look at the stone, and there are a lot of fancy faces and everything that are a part of the stone work, the brick work would’ve been incredibly complicated,” Peters said.

Peters said a lot of Tandy’s work is unseen. She said he was involved in constructing underground tunnels that connected the courthouse to nearby buildings.

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