Pour out a little mint julep on Saturday for a bit of Prairie Village Kentucky Derby history that looks likely to disappear.
In the 1920s, Herbert Woolf, part of the family that owned the successful Woolf Brothers clothing store, purchased the land where Corinth Square and surrounding residential neighborhoods now stand and turned it into a horse farm he dubbed Woolford Farms.
At first, Woolf focused on raising show horses. But by the early 1930s, he’d hired Ben Jones, one of the best known trainers in the country, and shifted the operation’s focus to thoroughbred racing.
In 1938, Lawrin, one of the Woolford Farms horses mounted a come-from-behind victory at the Kentucky Derby, becoming the first-and-only Kansas-raised winner in Derby history.
After being put out to stud, Lawrin passed away in 1955 at the age of 20. (Lawrin is buried next to his father Insco in a plot tucked away in the Corinth Downs gated community). Woolf sold the farm to J.C. Nichols a few months later, and he began to transform it into a shopping center and residential subdivisions.
The old barn that had housed the Woolford Farms horses, however, remained intact. Eventually it was added on to and turned into a commercial property. Since 1994, the building has been home to the Mission Road Antique Mall.
“The original…horse stalls are now filled with antiques and vintage treasures,” said Mission Road Antique Mall owner Casey Ward. “We still refer to this area of the mall as ‘the stables.'”
But this could be the last year the Kentucky Derby runs with the old Woolford Farms building still standing.
Property owner First Washington Realty has indicated to the city of Prairie Village that it intends to redevelop the Corinth Square South site, including razing the former barn building.
“Lawrin was raised and trained in our very building, by notable trainer Ben Jones, whose living quarters are still intact upstairs,” Ward said. “This history will disappear forever next year, when this building is razed to make way for a new development.”
Ward said the mall will close in the Corinth Square South space by January 2019. The mall, which features antiques merchandised by more than 300 vendors, is looking for a new location.