A brief history of the Lexington Laundry Company building in downtown Lexington

Learn about the historic downtown Lexington Laundry Company’s building’s survival + revival into a thriving arts center.

LEX Laundry Company building

The Pam Miller Downtown Arts Center offers all sorts of art exhibits + performances. | Photo by LEXtoday

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When driving or walking down Main Street, your eyes are so focused on the road ahead (or at least they should be) that you often forget to look up.

But if you safely take your eyes to the skies, you might realize there’s a lot of history + art to be seen in our city.

That’s exactly what we realized when we looked up at the Lexington Laundry Company building.

LEX Laundry Company 1919

The Lexington Laundry Company plant was actually on Short Street. | Photo courtesy of the Lexington Public Library

🏗️ History

The Laundry Company building, located at 141 E. Main St., was built around 1929 + features Art-Deco architecture — one of the few in the city. The facade is composed of golden-toned glazed tiles highlighted by unique floral patterns.

The Main Street side of the building served as the company’s office. The Lexington Laundry Company plant, where it actually did the dry cleaning, had been around as early as 1919 on East Short Street — the present-day courthouse.

Local historian Foster Ockerman, Jr. said that Lexington Laundry Company was an integral part of a traveling businessman’s stay in town. Its proximity to The Phoenix Hotel allowed travelers to “get a steam, a crease, and a shave” in one spot, as the first floor was home to a barbershop.

In 2012, the city saw the addition of the 15 giant steel cylinders on the roof, an art project by Dewitt Godfrey known as “Concordia.”

🖼️ Current day

The Lexington Laundry Company building is a great example of adaptive reuse as it is now home to the City Gallery, part of the Pam Miller Downtown Arts Center.

Address: 141 E. Main St.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5 p.m.
Exhibit: “Etiquette: A Common Misconception,” features the work of local artists Dafri, Lennon Michalski, and Mark Lenn Johnson + is available for viewing until Saturday, Dec. 3.

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