Colored Skating Rink and Summer Palm Garden (Lexington, KY)During the roller skating rink craze in the early 1900s, it was reported that the first Colored skating rink would be built in Lexington, KY, in 1907 [see "Lewis McClanahan," Interior Journal, 3/05/1907, p. 3]. It may have been the first Colored rink in Kentucky, but it was not the first in the United States.
The push for the rink in Lexington was led by Lewis McClanahan, from Hustonville, KY. (His name is spelled "Louis" in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census.) McClanahan was born in 1873 in Ohio. He had come to Kentucky when he was a child and most of his life had been a servant for the Weatherford family in Hustonville.
In 1907, McClanahan partnered with John Clay for the building of the skating rink. Clay is described as a wealthy Negro from Lexington, KY. Residents of East Third Street circulated a petition that was forwarded to the Mayor asking that the skating rink not be built in their neighborhood.
Just prior to the skating rink opening, the Bluegrass Amusement Company, made up of white businessmen, filed articles of incorporation as owners of the skating rink. The skating rink was completed March 1907. In April there was a complaint that white spectators had been admitted to the Colored skating rink, and McClanahan and Clay, the managers, were asked by the Lexington Leader newspaper to respond to the complaint.
The skating rink, estimated to have cost $10,000, was located on Third Street, just beyond the C. & O. Railway crossing on the old Ransom property. The rink was destroyed by fire in November 1908.
After the Lexington Colored skating rink was built, several smaller cities in Kentucky also built Colored skating rinks.
For more see the following Lexington Leader articles: "Skating rink," 2/28/1907, p. 9; "Skating rink," 3/17/1907, p. 15; "Petition," 3/20/07; "Colored skating rink," 3/28/1907, p. 1; the statement "The colored skating rink at Lexington was destroyed by fire this week," The Winchester News, 11/14/1908, Colored Column, p. 2; and "Skating rink burns," The Citizen, 11/19/1908, p. 7.