The Capitol Plaza complex, a twenty-two-acre government, business, and civic mall adjacent to the Kentucky River covers an area of North Frankfort once referred to as the "Craw" or the "Bottom." Following the Civil War an integrated, working-class neighborhood developed in this swampy, low-lying section of the city. At its height it encompassed approximately fifty acres and housed between 1,500 and 2,000 people. To those residing outside the "Craw," "dance and drink" joints like the Blue Moon, Tiptoe Inn, and the Peach Tree Inn represented the vice, moral corruption, and unsanitary conditions supposedly rampant in the district.
In reality, most of the residents were law-abiding folk who enjoyed their neighborhood schools, churches, and friendships.
During the 1950s the North Franklin Slum Clearance and Redevelopment Agency, an urban-renewal initiative, began the effort to "revitalize the area." By the mid-1960s urban renewal had scattered the "Craw's" families and destroyed such local landmarks as the Mayo-Underwood School (1929-1963) and the American Legion Building.
This 1940 view of the residential section of Wilkinson Street shows the former People's Mission, second from the left. Kentucky Historical Society Collection.
Mayo-Underwood School (ca. 1930) named in honor of Professor William H. Mayo and Dr. E.E. Underwood, served Frankfort's African American community for over thirty years. The Capital Plaza Tower, at Wilkinson and Mero Streets, now occupies the corner where Mayo-Underwood once stood. Kentucky Historical Society Collection.
Constructed at the turn of the century, this three-story, cut-stone American Legion Building (ca. 1917), located at 429 Washington Street, served as a social and business center for the African American community. Kentucky Historical Society Collection.