The History Behind Historic Lexington Foundation
Half a century ago, a group of Lexington citizens assembled to prevent the demolition of one of the city’s treasures, the 1824 Barclay House (now called Beaumont). The house was saved, and citizens who wanted to protect the value of other significant historic properties recognized the need for continued oversight of Lexington’s built environment. Thus in 1966 they chartered the Historic Lexington Foundation. Over the years, HLF, with its pride of place, has sustained its mission “to preserve, interpret, and present the historical heritage and fabric of Rockbridge County,” including the cities of Lexington and Buena Vista.
Among the preservation tools established by HLF is a Revolving Fund used to purchase, stabilize, and find new owners willing to rehabilitate threatened historic properties. Among the buildings purchased by HLF are the Alexander-Withrow Building (1789), the Central Hotel, now the McCampbell Inn (earliest section 1809), and the Jacob M. Ruff House (1829). When reselling these properties, HLF placed facade easements on them to insure that they retain their historic character in perpetuity. HLF has also accepted as donations or purchased easements on other significant properties, including the Reid-White-Philbin House (1824) and the Hopkins House (1845).
HLF also administers the Robert S. Johnson Fund, which supports the organization’s facade improvement grant program, providing incentives for property owners to maintain their properties and thus the appearance of Lexington’s downtown historic business district. The grant program was established and is implemented in cooperation with the City of Lexington. HLF also operates a Founders’ Awards program to recognize individuals and institutions for their restoration efforts in Rockbridge County, Lexington, and Buena Vista.