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Davis Bottom

Site Name:
Site No.:
Resarch focus:
Davis Bottom
Historic (ca. 1860-1950s)
Public Community

Davis Bottom (foreground) in an aerial
photograph taken on November 19, 2010.


Davis Bottom is a residential community located just southwest of downtown Lexington. Established in the 1860s, Davis Bottom served as a portal community after the Civil War for African Americans, Appalachians and Europeans who migrated to urban centers in search of homes and jobs. The community of Davis Bottom is going through its greatest transition due to construction of the Newtown Pike Extension and the Southend Park Redevelopment Project.

The Davis Bottom History Preservation Project” is an effort to document, preserve and present the history of Davis Bottom. This project features three integrated components: a one-hour public television documentary; a companion website with resources and educational materials; and, a digital media archive that preserves original documents, images, oral histories and ethnographic research for local residents and community leaders, as well as scholars, viewers, teachers and students throughout Kentucky.

Special call for photos, images and documents of Davis Bottom

There are few archival images of Davis Bottom from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s. As part of this public media project, the Kentucky Archaeological Survey is seeking any photographs, images, documents or personal recollections about Davis Bottom from current and former residents and people who have worked in or near this community.

Please let us know if you have any family photographs, portraits, sketches, documents or your own writings to contribute to this public media project.

The production team will make arrangements to digitally scan your materials with free digital copies provided to donors. Or, come to the “Davis Bottom Block Party” on Saturday, July 30th from noon to 4:00 p.m. outside the Nathaniel United Methodist Mission, 616 DeRoode Street. Our production team will be there to conduct oral history interviews and digital scans of images you would like to donate to this public history preservation project (free copies of interviews and scans provided to donors on DVD or CD).

Freight Depot

Original Lexington Freight Station in
Davis Bottom, ca. 1914

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Kim McBride, Co-Director
Kentucky Archaeological Survey
(Jointly Administered by the University of Kentucky Department of Anthropology
and the Kentucky Heritage Council)
1020-A Export Street

Lexington, Kentucky 40506-9854

(859) 257-1944 (during business hours)
e-mail: Kim McBride

In Production

The production team and advisors are currently documenting the work of scholars in the fields of archaeology, history, historic preservation/architecture and anthropology who are researching and preserving the history of Davis Bottom. This public media project, including the launch of this companion website, is targeted for completion in the winter of 2012. Here is some of the research to be featured in the media project:


Dr. Tanya Faberson, Principal Investigator, Cultural Resource Analysts, describes the stratigraphy of a mid 1900s privy excavated behind a home on DeRoode Street.

Tanya Faberson excavating a privy

Jennifer Faberson, Historic Materials Specialist, Cultural Resource Analysts, examines one of over 38,000 artifacts recovered from Davis Bottom during archaeological fieldwork.

Jennifer Faberson in Laboratory


Ms. Yvonne Giles, Director, Isaac Scott Hathaway Museum, examines archival documents at the Lexington Public Library. The documentary features a profile of Isaac Hathaway, a nationally recognized African American artist who was born in Davis Bottom in 1872.

Yvonne Giles in Library
Historic Preservation/Architecture

A field survey team from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet - Amanda Abner, Rebecca Turner and Heather Dollins -  documents a shotgun home in Davis Bottom before construction of the Newtown Pike Extension. 

Amanda Abner and survey team document shotgun house
Anthropology/Oral Histories

Juliana McDonald, Ph.D., Lecturer, Anthropology Department, University of Kentucky, is conducting extensive oral history interviews with residents to preserving the living memories of Davis Bottom. 

Photograph of Davis Bottom


Last Updated 5/7/2013