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Once A Slave Auction Block, Cheapside Could Soon Be Renamed After A Builder Freed From Slavery

Karyn Czar
Cheapside Park was the site of Juneteenth tributes in Lexington.

Lexington officials have taken the first step toward renaming Cheapside Park, a popular downtown venue that once served as a slave-trading market.

Credit Alan Lytle / WUKY

Situated next to the old courthouse in the heart of the city, Cheapside has often found itself at the center of the conversation about Lexington's relationship with race. In 2017, the removal of two Confederate statues from the area became the focal point of discussion. In 2020, amid nationwide racial justice protests, Cheapside again served as a rallying point and a space for reflection and tribute.

Now, the Parks Advisory Board has agreed to change its name to Henry A. Tandy Centennial Park, honoring a freed slave who moved to Lexington and helped form a masonry company that worked on the nearby courthouse.

The goal, according to Russell Allen with the group Take Back Cheapside, is "to honor Mr. Tandy's legacy as well as still make sure that the historical events that happened at Cheapside, with it being a slave auction block as well as honoring the Confederate generals with the monuments... we want to make sure that history is still told."

Mayor Linda Gorton said the renaming helps bridge the city's "past, present, and future."

"A lot of people associate black history with pain, and a lot of joy and a lot of great work, inventions, things that stand the test of time are also part of black culture," Allen explained.

The decision will need to go before the Urban County Council for final approval. If endorsed, the park will join nine existing Lexington parks named after prominent African Americans: George Washington Carver, Charles Young, Frederick Douglass, Paul L. Dunbar, Isaac Murphy, Lou Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Whitney Young and William Wells Brown.

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