Demolition has begun on the iconic Lexington hotel The Springs Inn, as its owners opt to tear it down to prevent the need for further maintenance as they look to sell the land on Harrodsburg Road.
So far, Diversified Demolition, which also handled the demolition of the CentrePointe block downtown, has destroyed a series of efficiency apartments on the land. Now they're working on a building that housed suites, said Cheri McMullin, who worked at the Springs for 15 years and represents the owners. Over the course of at least another month, the crews will reach the final piece of the property — the main building that held hotel rooms and a restaurant and lounge that, during their heyday, drew hordes of Lexingtonians.
"The Springs was just a great Lexington hotel," said Councilman Doug Martin, who represents the district that's home to the inn at the corner of Harrodsburg and Lane Allen roads. "It's sad to see it go. It's an end of an era."
Owners Cynthia Mulvihill and her mother, Janet Jordan, closed the motel in November 2008 shortly before they expected to sell the property. But the deal fell through, McMullin said, as the potential buyer learned that a parking plan they had for the property wasn't possible. Citing confidentiality in the dealings, she declined to elaborate.
The property has been on the market for two years, but it has now been taken off until demolition is complete, McMullin said.
"We're getting phone calls about it every day, but they're not entertaining anything at the moment," McMullin said. "Though if the right deal came through the door, they may entertain that."
Without the buildings, the property might interest other buyers, McMullin said, though she said that the main impetus for the demolition was "to just not have to maintain the buildings."
They sit on more than 7 acres near neighborhoods, prompting curiosity from some nearby residents about how the demolition will proceed.
Martin said people in the neighborhood are planning to meet with McMullin on Monday to discuss the schedule for the demolition, as well as to voice concerns about how the demolition might increase noise in the neighborhood.
The demolition erases a landmark that has been at that property since 1948 when Tracy Neal and his wife, Hazel, built what was then called The Springs Motel. It was renamed The Springs Inn in the 1980s.
The Springs Inn always stressed what it calls "Southern hospitality," with an atmosphere and style suggesting an antebellum mansion or a stately horse farm.
It became popular with those in the Thoroughbred industry who came to attend Keeneland sales and racing. Its dining room was known for its hot Browns, prime rib, fried chicken and Southern-style green beans.
The property changed hands multiple times over the years.
Clubs of all kinds from Kiwanis to Lions met at the inn.
"We had lots of repeat customers," said McMullin, who worked at the hotel and helped manage it from 1993 until it closed.
But the end came, not because of a lack of business, but the owners' desire to move on, she said.
"The restaurant and motel business tie you down, especially the restaurant," Mulvihill told the Herald-Leader last year. Since the Springs closed, she said in December, "We get our weekends off. We can do some traveling. Yes, it's nice."