As the demolition proceeds on Lexington landmark The Springs Inn, the Herald-Leader invited readers to share their tales of the hotel that has marked a corner of Harrodsburg Road since 1948. Here's a selection of the responses:
Debbie Walker Cooper of Versailles: "My father, Doyle Walker, managed and was part-owner of 'The Springs' from 1958 to 1984. He returned from Florida in 1987 and stayed until his final retirement in 1989. ...
I was just 6 years old when he began working at The Springs Motel, then located on the outskirts of Lexington. ... I'll never forget walking into the dining room one afternoon only to find Adolph Rupp and Bobby Knight having lunch together."
Tim Chinn, who moved to Lexington in 1969: "In summer 1973, some friends of my parents from Ashland were coming down to see them. (They) had always wanted to stay there and invited us over to swim.
"Not that I wanted to hang out with my parents, but I could not resist the chance to swim in the pool.
"After swimming and diving off the low board for about an hour, my dad got the idea he could do just about anything off the diving board. ... On one attempt he needed a good board spring to do 'his best dive.' After about three good bounces, the board broke and took him with it.
"As soon as it happened, a young girl got out of the pool and yelled, 'I'm going to tell.' She runs into the office, never to be seen again. We were all laughing our heads off as to what kind of excuse my dad was going to have.
"The other funny part is that he was willing to pay for the damage, but no one came out."
Barbara Hanna of Lexington: "It was the summer of 1959. My family (of six) was moving to Lexington and building a house in the Lansdowne area. ... As Lexington was a much smaller town in those days, there was a lack of rental houses that would accept our family for only a six-month period.
"The Springs Motel solved our temporary housing problem. We moved in the back building on Mitchell Avenue into two adjoining efficiency apartments.
"How my mother coped with housing two adults and four children and a dog in such small quarters boggles my imagination.
"We stayed there for two months and then moved to the luxurious manager's apartment ... that consisted of three bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen (sort of), and two baths. The unusual thing about the kitchen was it was also a bathroom, complete with tub and toilet along with the expected stove and refrigerator.
"As children, we thought it was very practical use of the space: ... consume and purge in the same place, and many jokes were made to that effect."
Hanna's sister, Nancy James of Louisville, adds: "The waitresses in the restaurant ... were so kind to me. I couldn't wait to get home from school so I could go to the restaurant to help fold napkins and set the tables for dinner. Occasionally, they would let me take a customer's order, write it on a cool tablet (I was just learning script), and keep the tip. What nice ladies they were. And getting to play waitress in a real restaurant was magical for a 7-year-old."
Mount Sterling's Robin Carrington, who enjoyed Mother's Day and Daughters of the American Revolution dinners at the restaurant: "Their fried chicken, corn pudding, biscuits and ham evoked flavors of old Kentucky.
"My mother, my two daughters and I had just finished one of those fabulous feasts when 8-year-old Amy asked why there was a faucet placed next to the restroom floor.
"As she asked the question, she touched it — really just touched it — and water spouted like a geyser all over us and all over the room.
"As you can imagine we beat a hasty retreat but will always laugh when remembering the aptly named Springs Inn."
Suzanne Dorsey of Advance, N.C., began staying at The Springs Inn in 1992, when she visited Lexington on horse business. She has since stayed there more than 50 times: "It was the first place I stayed, and the only place I ever stayed. It was like my home away from home. ... I came to be good friends with Alma Cain, one of the old-time waitresses there. We even kept in touch until she sadly passed away about two years ago.
"I also took family and friends there many times. We celebrated the sale of my first yearling there in 1993, a joyous occasion. ... I don't know where I will stay now. It makes me so sad."
Don Starsinic and his wife, Margaret, always chose the hotel as the site for banquets for the local chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees: "The hotel always gave us a good meal, well-served and very reasonably priced, as we found out when they closed and we searched for a replacement."
Compiled by Scott Sloan