On July 31, 2008, the Lexington Herald-Leader carried a story on the front page about UK’s plans to partner with a developer to renovate the three Reynolds Buildings on the west edge of campus. The buildings have been used by the university since about 1953 and were officially acquired in 1959 for $100,000.
Before this, they were owned by the R.J. Reynolds Company and functioned as tobacco warehouses. The School of Architecture was briefly housed in Building #1 before moving to Pence Hall, and the buildings have been mostly used for storage and art studio classes including sculpture, photography, metalworking, painting and videography since then. The Barnhart Gallery is also housed in building #1.
The buildings have always elicited a mixed response. Their distant location from central campus makes them inconvenient and potentially unsafe, but students and professors who work in the buildings enjoy the spaciousness and the feeling that they are free to make a mess. However, safety has also been an ongoing issue in the buildings. The two interior photos show an early morning fire which occurred in 1970. Interestingly, the image of a studio shows an armoire and dresser filled with clothes, documenting a long-standing practice of virtually living in the buildings. In 1989, a staircase collapsed, injuring four students, and in 1990, noxious fumes from chemicals used to repair the roof caused complaints of nausea and headaches. Security concerns resulted in a “controlled campus-to-campus walkway” between the Taylor Education and Reynolds Buildings in 2003.
What are your thoughts on the Reynolds Buildings? If you were there when the staircase collapsed or have fond memories of working there all night, you can share them with us by using the comment feature.
All photos from the Lexington Herald-Leader files held by University of Kentucky Archives.