Architecture and Opportunities for Reconciliation: an Exploration of One Culturally Significant Building's Potential for Healing a Community

Grants and Contracts Details


Architecture both reflects and influences the social, cultural and spiritual lives of people. In some cases, single buildings can carry significant historic and symbolic meaning for the communities they serve and the loss of such buildings can come to represent broader injustices experienced by a community. As a consequence, the renovation of historic or culturally significant structures can be a complex undertaking, but one that presents opportunities for healing or reconciliation for community members who have experienced marginalization, discrimination, historical trauma and/or micro-aggressions. The Lyric Theater in the East End community of Lexington, Kentucky, is one such example. Opened in 1948 as a movie house and music venue for the African-American community, the Lyric Theater became a social and cultural icon. As both a symbol and place, the Lyric remained the cultural heart of Lexington’s East End neighborhood until it’s closing in 1963. The building sat empty in a state of increasing disrepair for the next 35 years until a grassroots movement inspired city officials to invest in the building’s renovation—a process that proved to be both heartening and disappointing for various members of the community. This project involves interviewing or surveying community members who participated in the renovation of the theater, those involved in its current operations and interested residents of the East End community to understand more fully the relationship between architecture and community healing. The study includes a qualitative analysis of responses from key participants and community members affected by the renovation. Conclusions from the study will focus on the ways architecture presents opportunities for healing and growth in a community, the specific obstacles that emerged in the renovation of the Lyric Theater, and implications of this renovation as a case study for future projects aiming to achieve similar goals. The proposed grant is to support a lecture-based event to disseminate the study’s findings back to the community. It will also provide a forum for allowing community members to provide feedback on the results.
Effective start/end date8/1/141/31/15


  • Kentucky Humanities Council Incorporated: $1,500.00


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