Old Friends Breaks Ground on Abercrombie Center

The Josephine Abercromie Pin Oak Foundation will match up to $750,000 in donations for a new, state-of-the-art visitor center at its Georgetown, Kentucky location to be called The Ms. Josephine Abercrombie Center at Old Friends.

The structure, a renovation of an old tobacco barn will be named in honor of the horsewoman, philanthropist, and late owner of the renowned Pin Oak Stud in Versailles, Ky.

To date, $150,000 for the project has been raised, which includes a $50,000 donation by the Georgetown/Scott County Tourism board.

According to Old Friends President and Founder Michael Blowen, the President and CEO of Fasig-Tipton Boyd Browning was instrumental in introducing the Foundation to the idea of a structure to memorialize Ms. Abercrombie’s legacy.

“After watching the television coverage regarding Old Friends on Kentucky Derby day last year, where Michael discussed wanting to build a new visitors’ center, I called him and offered to help with the fundraising because I believed that it would fulfill a great need for the entire thoroughbred industry,” said Browning. “I can’t think of a better combination than Old Friends and Ms. Josephine Abercrombie, because they symbolize such a wonderful commitment to horse welfare.”

Pin Oak Stud’s Clifford Barry agreed that the concept of building such a facility at Old Friends is something Ms. Abercrombie would have truly liked.

“Ms. Abercrombie had entrusted us with some charitable endeavors, and after her passing, we felt like this was something that was very close to her heart and something she’d be very passionate about,” said Barry. “Through her whole life it had been about the care of the horse,” said Barry. “And this is a wonderful way to honor her name and her legacy here in the Bluegrass.

“Ms. Abercrombie was a part of the Bluegrass for a long, long time,” he continued. “She had a vision for philanthropy and did a lot of great things here locally, and I think this will just be one of those impactful contributions that would mean a lot to her. And, I think it would mean a lot to all of her friends, too.”

To help kick-start the project, Old Friends Board of Director’s member Corey Johnsen, former co-owner of Kentucky Downs, enlisted the services of Todd Gralla, Director of Equestrian Services at Populous, the architectural firm’s staff member responsible for the planning and design of the equestrian facilities at the 2012 London Olympics, among many other projects. According to Johnsen, Gralla, a longtime horse person, “stepped up to the plate, and we started working on the conceptual drawings and schematics.”

According to Blowen, when the renovation is complete, the climate-controlled center will be broken up into three big spaces. On one side there will be big-screen monitors for race viewing, while on the other side there’s going to be a little stage for things like handicapping seminars, symposiums, guest speakers, and more.

There will also be display space showcasing a collection of horseracing memorabilia, artwork, and racing trophies donated to Old Friends by the Bobby Frankel Estate.

“In this way, not only will it be a great space for events, but it will also give people a place to go in the event of a rain storm during their tour of the farm,” said Blowen. “They’ll be able to come inside and look at all the displays.

“We’re also going to have these giant big-screen monitors to show the races of Old Friends horses,” he continued. “And, they’ll not only get to watch the races, but G.D. Hieronymus, who does the video for Keeneland and for the Hall of Fame Inductions, is developing a kiosk, where a person can press a button on the name of any horse on the farm and watch their race.

“I want to thank everybody involved in Josephine Abercrombie’s Pin Oak Foundation, Inc. for this, including Clifford Barry and John Backer, because I think it’s certainly going to be, not only great for us, but it’s going to be a very nice testament to have Ms. Abercrombie’s name talked about on every tour we ever do,” Blowen said. “To have her name on the barn; it’s an honor and a privilege to name it after her.”

To donate to help in the construction of The Ms. Josephine Abercrombie Center at Old Friends, click here.

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