Hanover Towers was built in the early 1960s, when Lexington's boundaries didn't extend much farther than Ashland Park and Idle Hour.
When the $2.3 million building opened — as a luxury nine-story apartment building — residents collected deliveries of milk, bread and eggs in the "milk room." There was a 24-hour doorman, covered parking and a first-floor beauty shop.
These days, the "milk room," as it's still widely called, houses residents' recycling. There is still a first-floor beauty shop and daytime doorman service, although it's supplemented with a swipe-card security system for residents.
On Sunday, residents and guests will celebrate Hanover Towers' turning 50. There will be an open house for the public and a ceremony during which the Blue Grass Trust will award a historical designation.
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In 1967, developers Don Poole and Frank Trimble sold the building to a trust set up for Joan Kincaid and Jane K. Johnson, daughters of the late Lexington financier Garvice Kincaid.
By that time, the building's tenant list was like a Who's Who in Lexington: Helen King, first permanent director of the UK Alumni Association; Tommy Rose, widow of Transylvania president Frank Rose; and Dunster Foster Pettit, mother of former Mayor Foster Pettit. Former Vice President Al Gore's father, Sen. Albert Gore of Tennessee, rented a unit when he worked for Island Creek Coal in Lexington.
The building became a condominium complex in 1987, selling all units in a three-hour auction in 1989.
Many people in the area know the fountain outside Hanover Towers' front door, which features four dancing cherubs. Current residents say the complex is an oasis of quiet and carefree living — without the need to mow, shovel snow or clear gutters — right on the edge of an active downtown.
Resident Carolyn Siegel said much of the newer downtown housing is built to appeal to younger buyers who prefer the look of an urban loft. The 99 units of Hanover Tower don't subscribe to the unfinished-urban aesthetic, she said.
"The only time our pipes are exposed is when there's a leak," she said.
Siegel is a retired Eastern Kentucky University marketing professor; her husband, Malcolm Siegel, is a retired plant pathology professor at the University of Kentucky and a former president of the Central Kentucky Orchid Society. The couple have lived in a large unit on the ninth floor for nearly three years, having bought after they sold their three-level house on a three-quarter-acre lot on Lakeside Drive.
"When your house becomes a burden and not a pleasure, you get to a point in life when you just can't maintain it," Carolyn Siegel said. "This has been a delightful place to be. ... It's a really social group if you want to be social. If not, you can just say hello to people."
Every Thursday evening, residents hold a potluck social to catch up on the week's news.
Siegel said there are a lot of retired professors living in the building, perhaps explaining why the laundry room doubles as a library with comfy chairs. While you refresh your wardrobe, you can also reinvigorate your mind.
About 30 percent of the building's population is younger people, Siegel said. Some residents use their condominiums as occasional housing — a pied-à-terre — for Lexington events such as basketball games.
Marie Tychonievich spent 30 years in Frankfort, where she raised a family and worked for the state as a social worker. She discovered Hanover Towers when she went condo shopping with a friend and remembers thinking at the time that she could live there.
"Two years later, I was," Tychonievich said. "I had no idea how easy life could be."
Tychonievich is gathering information about the building, its residents and history for an album for residents and visitors. As a resident, she said, she enjoys walking in the nearby neighborhoods and eating at the nearby restaurants. She couldn't be more pleased with her condominium purchase.
"I tell young people there are two ways to retire: to save a lot of money or to learn to live cheap," she said. "This is less than I was paying on my house. ... It's very family-like. There's a guy going to college living next to me."