[caption id="attachment_182" align="alignright" width="200" caption="The Old Tarr Building in the Distillery District"]
The New Buster's
Buster’s, now officially Buster’s Billiards & Backroom, is finding new life in the Lexington Distillery District – an area of former bourbon distilleries and warehouses that is being revitalized and transformed into an entertainment destination. The Old Tarr Distillery Warehouse, Buster’s new home, was built in 1860, and was part of the Ashland/Old Tarr Distillery (the first registered distillery in Lexington). The Lexington Distillery and the James E. Pepper Distillery (originally Henry Clay Distillery) were also part of this thriving commercial area. At their zenith in the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s, these distilleries produced more than 36,000 barrels of bourbon per year, and the bonded warehouses within this 60-acre distillery area, including the Old Tarr Distillery Warehouse, housed over 180,000 barrels of bourbon.
At 11,000 square feet the building has given Buster’s new owners, Jessica and Clark Case, the opportunity to combine their favorite billiards hall with something Lexington has needed for a long time – a mid-sized music venue. The space is divided between a billiards lounge, which seeks to carry-on the Buster’s vibe, and the Backroom, a state-of-the-art concert hall. The ability to host regional and national musical acts, and to provide a venue for art and performances of all types, adds dimension and excitement to Lexington’s thriving arts scene, and gives Lexingtonians the opportunity to keep their entertainment dollars local. Buster’s Billiards & Backroom is proud to be a part of the Lexington Distillery District, which celebrates Kentucky’s heritage and culture, and hopes to contribute to the fabric of that culture for years to come.
The Old Buster's
[caption id="attachment_84" align="alignright" width="185" caption="Buster's Old Building"]
Buster’s began on Lexington’s Main Street in the early 1990’s as a pool hall with a mission – to have a jukebox full of music that fans of punk and alternative music styles could not find anywhere else. Over the years, the dark, atmospheric space became a Lexington nightlife institution. Playing pool, darts, Burger Time, or air-hockey, leaving messages or recording victories on the black walls with chalk, checking out local bands who stopped in for short, packed performances, challenging friends to a game of chess or Connect Four, drinking PBR Tallboys, or just sitting at the tables watching the night go by were all favorite pastimes. The essence of Buster’s was that it was a place you could go to just be yourself – a place without hype or pretension.
In the summer of 2008, the entire block on which Buster’s was located was slated for demolition by a group of developers planning to replace the buildings (several of which were deemed to have significant historical value), with a high-rise. Despite local outcry and attempts to save the buildings through negotiations, the demolition permit was approved, and the entire block was demolished. Today, over a year later, the block still sits empty.
[caption id="attachment_225" align="alignleft" width="230" caption="The Old Busters"]
The Buster’s building was a prime example of the history that was lost when the block at the heart of Lexington’s downtown was demolished. The two-story, Art Deco style building was constructed during the 1920s or 1930s. It was clad with a blonde brick exterior, and featured raised friezes along the front façade and side windows. The façade was later covered with streamlined, fluted ceramic tiles. The building at one time served as a drug store and as the Lexington Chamber of Commerce. Alongside the other historic buildings at the corner of Main and Mill Streets, Buster’s helped maintain a sense of place and time, and its presence is sorely missed.
Buster’s Billiards & Backroom
899 Manchester St
Lexington-Fayette, KY 40508
Friends of Buster's
Buster’s is a Member of :
Local First Lexington:
The Lexington Distillery District:
Barrel House Distillery:
Actors Guild of Lexington:
Lexington Art League:
Lexington Living Arts and Science Center
Stella’s Kentucky Deli:
Third Street Stuff:
The Lexington Herald-Leader:
The Lexington Project:
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