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The Twin Spires of Churchill Downs

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The Twin Spires at Churchill Downs

The Twin Spires at Churchill Downs before the expansion for the Jockey Club Suites.

© Cindy Pierson Dulay

The Twin Spires are easily recognized by any racing fan and are symbolic of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. They are such a famous landmark that they were even used to create the logo for Churchill Downs Inc.

The Spires were designed by a 24-year-old draftsman, Joseph Dominic Baldez, who was asked to draw the plans for Churchill Downs' new grandstand and were built in 1895. Originally the plans did not include the Spires, but as Baldez continued work on his design, he felt the structure needed something to give it a striking appearance.

Described as towers in the original drawing, the hexagonal spires exemplify late nineteenth century architecture, in which symmetry and balance took precedence over function. Although Baldez designed many other structures in Louisville, the Twin Spires remain as an everlasting reminder of the architect. Former Churchill Downs President Matt J. Winn is reported to have told Baldez, "Joe when you die there's one monument that will never be taken down, the Twin Spires."

Baldez died in 1957, but over a century after they were built his Twin Spires still overlook the stretch at Churchill Downs. In 2005, construction of a new expansion on the Churchill Downs clubhouse and grandstand was completed, pushing both to new heights. The Twin Spires were left alone, nestled between the new monoliths on each side.

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