Isaac Murphy's success in racing enabled him and his wife, Lucy, to buy a grand house that stood on this site. The house, called a mansion in some accounts, was located off the present East Third Street. It was brick and had two stories and 10 rooms on seven acres, with a roof observatory that offered a view of the nearby Kentucky Association racetrack.
The Murphys purchased the house, which was likely built around 1850, for $10,000 in 1887. (It was their second Lexington residence after their marriage in 1883. They kept their first, on what is now Eastern Avenue, a few blocks from here, for several years as a rental property.) Their home became known in Lexington, and its African American community in particular, for the Murphys' fashionable social events. Area newspapers carried accounts of their all-day reception for jockey Anthony Hamilton and his fiancée and of their own 10th wedding anniversary party.
Isaac Murphy died in the house in 1896. Lucy sold it around 1903 and lived with family elsewhere in Lexington. She died in 1910. Over time, the house was lost to history; it was demolished in the 1930s and its precise location forgotten. There are no known photographs of it. Archaeological investigations in 2010 and 2011 discovered its foundation, a section of which has been preserved and incorporated
here into the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden.
More than 500 people, including black and white dignitaries, attended Isaac Murphy's funeral.