The design for the Isaac Murphy Memorial Garden weaves several historical themes and activities into a contemporary downtown urban space. It is first a suitable memorial for the most successful jockey of all time. Secondly, it is a space which honors the African American contribution to the Thoroughbred industry. It is also an opportunity to provide a cool island of shade in the urban environment. It is a place where visual and performing art can happen in an unbridled fashion and it is a place where the community can gather and connect to the land, the soil and the vegetation of a community rain garden.

Many missions, many opportunities, yet the design remains simple and direct. A “Winners Circle” at the most prominent corner becomes the introduction to the park and a gateway to the community.  Within the circle there is an ever changing video wall which tells the story of Isaac Murphy.

A “Ribbon” of granite weaving through the spaces sharing the story of this downtown community as a poem engraved into the stone. Walking along reading the poem, the visitor will move through all areas of the park.

Opportunities for special donation pavements are swirled through the main plaza creating a site line to the neighborhood beyond. This plaza is flanked by community gardens and art niches. These areas will utilize modern permeable pavements and rain garden technologies in order to become sustainable, useable and education spaces.

A second interactive video wall creates a “Curtain” along the main plaza. On this curtain the story of the African American contribution to the horse industry will be told. Information on many other famous jockeys and trainers will be shared along the wall as the granite ribbon passes along at your feet.

The "Waves" represent the bluegrass landscape. On these  waves the community can play, sit, watch concerts, frolic, fly kites, display art, and enjoy the tactile sensation of rolling in the grass. Just beyond, there is a plaza celebrating Isaac Murphy’s three Kentucky Derby victories. Several other park elements come in threes in order to reinforce this theme. This plaza anchors the west end of the park and serves as a gateway to the space for eastbound travelers along Third Street.

The park is designed to be SEEN, the park is designed to be USED and the park is designed to INFORM. Most importantly, the park is designed to be a place of ENJOYMENT.


A. Winner’s Circle Plaza

B.  History Video Mall

C. Isaac Murphy Statue

D.  Poetry Ribbon - Engraved Granite

E. Community Garden Spaces

F.  Interactive Art Spaces

G. Benches

H.  Planters

I.  Turf Waves Performance Area

J.  Derby Flag Plaza

NEW Revised Plan View

Original Plan View







IMMAG Board Members

Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden

c/o Blue Grass Community Foundation

250 West Main Street Suite 1220

Lexington, KY 40507

Help us commemorate the legacy of Isaac Murphy and others by making a donation of any size.


IMMAG board meets the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

at Urban League: 148 DeWeese

Open to the public.

Read More about the 
Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden


David Cozart

Vice President

Thomas Tolliver


Pat Gerhard 



Tim Guthrie



Dave Melanson

Emily Edgington

Graves Dickey

Jennifer Shah

Jim Embry

P.G. Peeples

Lee Helmers


1st District Councilman

Chris Ford / Tiffany A Tatum