We know you already have First Friday’s Gallery Walk on your calendar for every month because we always have a wonderful turnout, but in September we have an extra-special reason to make 5 W. Washington your first stop!
At 5 p.m., Cabell Gorman, owner of the Cabell Gallery of Fine Art, and Harry H. Warner, owner of the building at 5 W. Washington St. in downtown Lexington, will be celebrating the dedication of a plaque commemorating the unique history of our 1914 building, which has been designated officially by the Historic Lexington Foundation as the “Withrow Gift Shop”.
Although the current building is just over a century old, it stands on one of the original half-acre lots on the six original streets laid out after Lexington was created as a county seat in 1777. In 1792, William Alexander purchased all the lots on the present west side of Washington Street between Main and Jefferson Streets. He built one of the oldest – and finest - standing structures in town, known now as the Alexander-Withrow House (location of The Georges today).
Owned by a succession of other prominent citizens and their families, including John Leyburn and George Baker, Jack Withrow purchased the property in 1886 and constructed the “Gift Shop” in 1914. Withrow and his descendants owned the property for over 80 years.
In 1969, 5 W. Washington and the Withrow Gift Shop was sold as a separate parcel, despite the earnest endeavors of the recently created Historic Lexington Foundation, which hoped to keep the property intact. Although outbid at auction on the Withrow Gift Shop, the Historic Lexington Foundation was able to acquire and preserve the Alexander-Withrow House.
Even with all the interior changes in recent decades, the Withrow Gift Shop has had the good fortune to maintain what has been described as, “the typical Victorian Shop Front configuration. This entails two large windows flanking a central recessed door. “Up above, the cornice is quite simple with small brackets and carved blocks.”
Between 1969 and 2013, when it was purchased by Harry H. Warner, the Withrow Gift Shop housed several businesses including Lexington Lighting and the law office of renowned attorney Larry Mann (husband of Lexington's most famous photographer, Sally Mann.) And, of course, Cabell Gallery of Fine Art will soon be celebrating three successful years at 5 W. Washington with many more yet to come. Future historians take note!