Castlewood Park

 

Castlewood Park, located in the center of the Loudon-Meadows subdivision just north of Loudon Avenue, is a 32-acre public park, and is one of the oldest in the city of Lexington.  The park is a small remnant of the family farm owned by the Hunts, mercantilists that made a fortune in the hemp and textile industry in 19th Century Lexington. The land was sold to the city of Lexington in the 1920s. Castlewood Park is currently surrounded on all four sides by residential properties built in the 1920s - 1950s.

Loudoun House - 1932. Courtesy: National Park Service

In the middle of the park sits the iconic Loudoun House. Designed by famed New York architect Alexander Jackson Davis, the Loudoun House was built in 1851 for Francis Key Hunt and is one of the largest and finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the state of Kentucky. The house cost around $40,000 to construct and is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building’s name came from Hunt’s wife’s favorite song, the Bells of Loudoun.

Loudoun House - 2015 courtesy: Jayoung Koo

The Loudoun House is home to the Lexington Art League, one of Lexington’s premiere visual arts organizations. Operated with the community in mind, the Art League’s gallery in the Loudoun House is open to the public during weekdays, and they also operate a summer program for neighborhood youth in partnership with the Castlewood Community Center, located directly behind the Loudoun House. The Loudoun House is also home to North Limestone MusicWorks. Both of these groups are profiled in the Arts section of this document.

Castlewood Park - Original Design courtesy: Kentucky Digital Library

Castlewood Park was originally designed as a sprawling, Victorian-inspired park, with varied recreational programming opportunities. Today’s Castlewood Park, seen on the right hand image, has several amenities amidst a vast greenspace, including a large aquatic center, a recently installed playground, five tennis courts, a basketball court, and three baseball fields. Almost all of these facilities are regularly occupied during summer months, according to a passive survey by the North Limestone CDC. The sole exception to that would be the tennis courts - rarely occupied - which were constructed during the Tennis Boom of the 1970s. 

Castlewood Park - Current Aerial Image courtesy: Google Maps

In a series of community walks and interviews, North End residents discussed what they value about Castlewood Park. The “bucolic” open spaces in the park, which allow for a variety of self-selected activities from pickup soccer to picnics, and the large, historic trees in the park were some of the main draws for residents to the park. Residents also mentioned the high-quailty playground equipment and sports facilities as being essential to the park - especially the aquatic center. The Loudoun House - both the architecture and the presence of the Lexington Art League - was also mentioned as a major asset to the park.

Residents, however, also detailed many things they would like to see improved in and around the park. Pedestrian access to the park was mentioned as being incredibly dangerous for children and families - especially coming from the direction of Arlington Elementary and Embrace Church. There is only one crosswalk to get across Bryan Ave for the entire quarter-mile stretch. Residents felt that the chained-down picnic tables and the lack of proper lighting made the park feel unsafe. Programming was also mentioned as a need for the park - specifically public, outdoor events that are free for the community were specifically mentioned. Residents identified the need for more trees in the park and better walkways as well.