Kentucky Derby Twin Spires
Churchill Downs' Twin Spires
The Twin Spires are a recognized throughout the world as the symbol of Churchill Downs and its most famous race, the Kentucky Derby. They are so well known that a mere glance at those Twin Spires can inspire stories of big bets, mint juleps, famous horses and everything else surrounding "the most exciting 2 minutes in sports" to horse racing fans everywhere.
Churchill Downs formally opened May 17, 1875 with only four races scheduled. On November 24, 1894 William F. Schulte was appointed president who oversaw the construction of a new grandstand for a reported cost of $100,000.
The Twin Spires were constructed between the fall of 1894 & the spring of 1895 and were brought to life by a young draftsman named Joseph Dominic Baldez.
Baldez was asked to draft the design for the new for Churchill Downs' grandstand and in his original drawings, he referred to the Twin Spires as “Towers” which he included to give the new grandstand a more striking appearance. Horse racing fans would have to agree that he was successful in his mission!
The hexagonal spires are a great example of 19th century architecture that preferred buildings to have great presence, symmetry and balance rather than considering more practical use of space.
The Twin Spires continue to be the most recognizable aspect of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby.