University of Kentucky Walking Tour
Learn about the growth of UK and a variety of aspects of the school's history as you walk from north campus to south campus.
Scovell Hall has stood on the University of Kentucky campus since 1905. With a colonial style, the building was the largest structure on campus for many years. The hall takes its name from Melville A. Scovell who headed up the university’s Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station when it first opened. Scovell helped transform the KAES into a model for other agricultural research institutions. The hall still stands today and is now home to Human Resources for UK. There is a historical marker in front of the hall.
This historical marker stands in honor of Lyman T. Johnson and the 1948 suit that would eventually lead to the desegregation of the University of Kentucky. Johnson‘s lawyers used the precedent of Plessy v. Ferguson to argue for the admission of black students to UK. The first African American students on UK’s campus experienced racism throughout their time at the university as they received death threats and crosses were burnt across campus.
This historical marker informs passersby of the founding of the University of Kentucky’s student newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel. The Kentucky Kernel published its first edition in 1915 and has since become an independent paper with a focus on UK events and Lexington-area news. The historical marker was placed in front of the Grehan Building in 2005.
Completed in 1934, the Memorial Hall Mural has been a point of contention on the University of Kentucky’s campus for decades. The mural was designed by artist Ann O’Hanlon who intended to show the history of Kentucky up to the 1930s. Students protested the mural in 2019 with a hunger strike and a sit-in resulting in an announcement that the mural would be covered. In 2020 President Capiluto announced that the mural would be removed, but the process to do so has been stalled by a suit against the university which alleges the school has no right to destroy the fresco.
Made in honor of the University of Kentucky’s first president James K. Patterson, this statue has stood on the campus’s grounds since 1934. The Scotland native oversaw the transformation of the three local colleges into the state university we see today. Patterson served several colleges as a professor of Latin and administrator in addition to working occasionally as a writer for local papers. Patterson was known among his colleagues for having studied sciences in addition to the classics and showed a passion for education throughout his life. The statue has sat at its current location at the base of the Patterson Office Tower since 2003 but had been relocated several times prior to this.
Home to the University of Kentucky’s Special Collections Resource Center, the Margaret I. King Library was the university’s main library for 67 years. The structure’s namesake was the school’s first librarian. King served in this position in addition to working as a Library Science and English professor and was able to work alongside the university’s first president, James K. Patterson. Today the structure features an exhibit on Women’s Suffrage in Kentucky and an oral history collection focused on the history and development of the region. A historical marker with a summary of the structure’s significance has stood outside of the library since 2009.
The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky is located in the Singletary Center for the Arts building. It was founded in 1976 and contains 4,500 works of art that range from pre-Columbian to modern and contemporary art. It houses numerous works by famous artists such as Goya, Rodin, Durer, Ansel Adams, and Lichtenstein. It also contains a collection of 160 works created with the support of the Works Progress Administration, which was one of the New Deal programs run by the federal government during the Great Depression. The museum presents six traveling exhibits per year.
Built to house the University of Kentucky’s men’s basketball team in 1950, the Memorial Coliseum saw two of the team's championship wins. UK basketball icons Adolph Rupp and Pat Riley were a part of the structure’s history among other athletes who would go on to play in the NBA. The team has relocated to Rupp Arena for games since 1976, but the Memorial Coliseum still hosts a variety of other sports and events and is the practice facility for UK’s men’s basketball team. The facility has undergone a series of renovations since it opened which have expanded the services offered to include tutoring.