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The paddock of Theseus
The two tall spires at churchill downs against a blue sky
The iconic twin spires predate the name Churchill Downs by almost 40 years. | Photo by LOUtoday
As the 150th Kentucky Derby gets close to the starting gate, Churchill Downs is putting the finishing touches on a $200 million renovation project to the paddock area — a move that brings the track forward, while also looking to the past.

Historic preservation was a major priority of the renovation. When asked about working within the guidelines for historic places, a foreman said “there’s things we couldn’t touch, but we wouldn’t want to.”

But with a site as old as Churchill Downs, it’s not as simple as keeping things original.

History worth preserving

The first Kentucky Derby was held in 1875, but the original lodge, grandstand, clubhouse, and stables were all gone by 1896. The Twin Spires were constructed in 1895 as part of the second grandstand, but the building looks significantly different today than it did then.

a black and white image of the second grandstand at churchill downs looming over the racetrack.

Architect Joseph Baldez added the spires late in the design process to give the building a “striking appearance.”


Photo from the Detroit Publishing Co. via Library of Congress

As the Derby grew, so did Churchill Downs. The grandstand was extended with a clubhouse in 1902 and with more seating around the first curve in the 1940s. By the 1960s, VIP skyboxes had replaced the original clubhouse. Much of the current structure was added during the early 2000s.

Bringing the past into the future

The latest round of renovations pays homage to many different phases of Churchill Downs history. As seen in the image above, the second grandstand featured an exposed red brick foundation. But by the 1940s, that had been painted over to give the track it’s now-famous green-and-whitewash color scheme.

During this round of paddock renovations, the team chose to keep the best of both worlds. The exterior of the grandstand retains its pristine white brick finish, while the inside corridor was stripped back to exposed brick to honor the building’s original design.

A view of the two spires above churchill downs from the paddock area

The newly-renovated paddock area is familiar but undeniably modern.


Photo by LOUtoday

Here are a few other new features:
  • Two new paddock-side clubs sponsored by Woodford Reserve and Sports Illustrated
  • Balcony seating with covered outdoor dining
  • A new terrace with 360-degree views of the paddock and track
How old was Louisville architect Joseph Baldez when he designed the second grandstand?

A. 49
B. 24
C. 39
D. 71
Friday, April 19
  • Ashley McBryde: The Devil I Know Tour | Friday, April 19 | 8 p.m. | Louisville Palace, 625 S. 4th St., Louisville | $39-$63.50 | Catch the singer-songwriter’s tour promoting her new album.
  • Boot Scootin’ Boogie Nights | Friday, April 19 | Headliners Music Hall, 1386 Lexington Rd., Louisville | $9-$14 | Enjoy line dancing, boot stomping, and of course, cold beer at this 1990s country music night.
Saturday, April 20
  • Monarchs & Mimosas | Saturday, April 20 | 8:30-10 a.m. | Louisville Zoo, 1100 Trevilian Way, Louisville | $40 | Start your day with a refreshing cocktail and learn how to create your own pollinator garden.
  • Party in the Yard: Thunder Day Event | Saturday, April 20 | 12-4 p.m. | Copper & Kings Distillery, 1121 E. Washington St., Louisville | Free | Listen to live vinyl spinning while you sip on cocktails and watch the air show.
  • ThunderBlast | Saturday, April 20 | 2-10 p.m. | Kentucky Science Center, 727 W. Main St., Louisville | $50-$135 | Watch the air show and fireworks while exploring the Science Center + enjoying food and drinks from local vendors.
  • Thunder at Goodbounce Pickleball Yard | Saturday, April 20 | 2-11 p.m. | 1515 River Shore Dr., Louisville | Enjoy live music, food trucks, and a kid zone while you watch the air show and fireworks.
  • Racing Louisville vs. Utah Royals | Saturday, April 20 | 5 p.m. | Lynn Family Stadium, 350 Adams St., Louisville | $19-$153 | For the first time, enjoy the Thunder Over Louisville air show and fireworks along with a pro soccer game.*
Sunday, April 21
  • Louisville Leopards Big Gig 2024 | Sunday, April 21 | 2 p.m. | The Brown Theatre, 315 W. Broadway, Louisville | $17.55 | Watch over 170 kids perform music from a variety of genres, including new works composed specifically for The Leopards.
Monday, April 22
  • Bad Bunny - Most Wanted Tour | Monday, April 22 | 8 p.m. | KFC YUM! Center, 1 Arena Plaza, Louisville | $106.95-$748.95 | Catch the “King of Latin Trap” live in concert.
Tuesday, April 23
  • Full “Frog” Moon Hike | Tuesday, April 23 | 8:15-10:15 p.m. | Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, 2075 Clermont Rd., Clermont | $12-$15 | Explore the forest after dark while you listen to the spring sounds.
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502 Hemp Wellness Center
🎤 Radical speaker added to LeadingBetter Summit
a person stands in the middle of the stage in front of an audience of people
Summit attendees will experience a full day of leadership training, inspiration, and networking with hundreds of leaders. | Photo provided by Leadership Louisville Center
The LeadingBetter Summit keeps getting better.

The communication and collaboration event — happening at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, May 22 — just announced an addition to its stellar lineup of global leaders.

Kim Scott, a former Google and Apple executive + bestselling author of “Radical Candor,” will present. She joins the other keynote speakers including Matt Abrahams, Stanford’s communication expert, and Rosalind Wiseman, the author who inspired “Mean Girls.
News Notes
  • Fry Daddy’s is now open at 1039 Ash St. in Germantown. The french fry food truck’s permanent location serves chicken, shrimp, pork, steak, lobster, and snow crab on fries with cheese + 12 different sauces.
  • The former Hub Department Store at 1701 W. Market St. will soon be home to the Russell Station Tech and Learning Center. The nonprofit Amped is opening the center to help prepare adults for jobs in the tech sector. Construction is set to begin next month + finish in 2026. (Courier Journal)
  • Get those feeders ready, LOU. Hummingbirds have been spotted in Louisville as part of their spring migration north from Mexico + Central America. Hummingbird Central has released its 2024 spring migration map, and you can report your own sightings. (WHAS11)
  • 2000+. That’s how many nurses, volunteers, and emergency physicians will be on-hand during Thunder Over Louisville this weekend as over 100,000 people gather along the Ohio River to watch the air show and fireworks display. Stay safe, LOU. (WDRB)
  • The hip-hop festival LouiEvolve is coming to the MAMMOTH Art Space starting today and running through Saturday. Live music + painting demonstrations will be held alongside interactive art installations and vendors. Tickets are available now starting at $20. (Leo Weekly)
Fun Fact
  • Fans of the new “Fallout” TV show on Amazon Prime have mapped the locations of the show’s fictional vaults — including one near LOU. The map indicates one of the show’s many experimental fallout shelters sits about 50 miles east of town, just outside of Lexington. (Courier Journal)
  • Earlier this week, we asked LOUtoday readers their favorite native KY plant. The resounding winner was the Eastern Redbud with 44% of the votes. Black-Eyed Susans came in with 24%, followed by Purple Coneflower with 15%, Carolina Rose with 9%, and Coral Honeysuckle with 7%.
  • Colorado transfer J’Vonne Hadley has joined the growing list of new Cards basketball players. Get game coverage, analysis, insights, interviews, and more from local experts of the Cardinals with Locked On’s daily podcasts.
    • If you’re catching a flight out of Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) soon, consider adding extra time to navigate the airport during the busy travel season. SDF suggests arriving at least two hours before your flight’s departure to allow plenty of time to navigate the airport.*
    • Did you know you could finance your fixer-upper with home equity? You could get up to $50K with a HELOC — calculate your payment.*
    The minimum investment for a financial advisor
    Man wearing blue shirt and green jacket sits on bench, facing camera
    Considering hiring a financial advisor? Here’s what you need to know beforehand. | Photo provided by SmartAsset
    A financial advisor could help you best determine if you’re on track to meet your long-term financial goals. This expert could help you establish a plan that factors your assets and taxes into your overall retirement and estate-planning goals.

    How much money should you have before hiring a financial advisor? Find out the level of liquid assets at which an advisor’s benefits potentially outweigh the costs.
    The Buy
    Four neutral throw pillow covers, all for $24.99. We love: The price point + how you can choose which neutral tones best suit your living space — gold-neutral, cream-neutral, or navy-neutral.
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    The Wrap
    Declan Lowthian.jpg Today’s edition by:
    From the editor
    Lexington might be closer to the fictional vault in the new “Fallout” show, but did you know that state officials had plans to use Louisville’s mega caverns as a shelter during the Cuban missile crisis?
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