Local News

Proposal for Downtown Historic District Takes First Steps

The preservation group Neighborhood Planning and Preservation is now drafting boundaries it plans to propose as the new Downtown Preservation District.

NPP said the boundaries are fair, but there is some concern.

“I think the proposal for the downtown zone that was described is much, much, much too large,” said Councilman Tom Owen, whose district falls in the drafted boundaries.

Those boundaries are between Ninth Street and I-65 and Kentucky Street to the Ohio River, excluding the West Main District.

Owens supports a Downtown Preservation District but is concerned with the size of the proposal, he said.

“I don’t want the preservation community to bite off more than they can chew because there will be push back I can assure you,” said Owen.

NPP President Martina Kunneke says she’s not prepared to make any changes this early.

“I don’t want to start out with compromise. I’m not going to say compromise is impossible. Let’s just see how it develops,” she said.

Kunneke said she wants to expedite the approval process through the Metro Council and says NPP will start by gaining support from city lawmakers.

“Nothing is really impossible if the mayor and/or Metro Council put their weight behind it,” said Kunneke.

She said the next step will be to reach out to council members who may help to waive some of the administration cost and effort.

NPP has also reached out to other preservation groups in Louisville. Kunneke says some have expressed interest. While Preservation Louisville hasn’t announced its involvement with a Downtown Historic District, it has asked Metro government to have more dialog with the public and to conduct a public forum regarding past surveys of downtown preservation.

The Louisville Metro Landmarks Commission will make the final decision on whether to create a historic district.

In-Depth News Local News Next Louisville Politics

Effort Underway To Preserve Louisville’s Iconic Shotgun Houses

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Early next month, a panel of preservationists will select a house in Louisville to be rehabilitated under a new project called Preservation S.O.S.—Save Our Shotguns.

It’s a style of house that symbolizes many of Louisville’s older neighborhoods.

There are many variations, but shotgun houses typically have a long, rectangular floor plan: one room wide, three to five rooms in a row with doorways often on the same side of the house.

One common belief is that the name shotgun house refers to the ability to fire a shotgun cleanly from the front through the back door.

The shotgun style likely made its way into the U.S. from the West Indies and became popular in the South during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, offering affordable housing in working class areas.

In Louisville, they’re a part of the fabric of neighborhoods like Germantown, Butchertown, Smoketown and Portland, but some are showing their age, and Portland in particular has a significant number of houses in distress (top two photos).

“In this area, you’re seeing a lot of blight when it comes to vacant properties, many of which are the shotgun houses, and I think that’s what inspired me to try to come forward and do something and start a program that would really make an impact,” said Marianne Zickhur, executive director of Preservation Louisville, which is spearheading the S.O.S. program. Zickhur grew up in the Portland neighborhood.

Zickhur and says shotguns are popular as starter homes for many young buyers. Others like how their simple design lends itself to fix-up and addition projects.

Local News

Preservation Group Makes Last Stand at The Old Elmo’s Bar Building

A small group of preservationists made a last stand today outside of the old Elmo’s Bar building on Main Street.  The building is scheduled to be torn down and as WFPL’s Dalton Main reports, owner and developer Todd Blue officially has permission to demolish it as of Thursday.

The 30-day waiting period mandated for the demolition of historical buildings has ended and members of the organization Neighborhood Planning and Preservation, Inc made a last-minute stand.

Four people held brightly colored signs that read “this building matters”.  They joked about chaining themselves to the structure, but seemed resigned to the fact that the demolition is a foregone conclusion.

As Cherise Williams puts it, the group is frustrated with what they called a lack of transparency in the city’s dealings with Blue.

Local News

Preservation Louisville Unveils Top 10 Lists

Preservation Louisville revealed their annual top ten lists Thursday and announced the removal of the Whiskey Row buildings from 105-119 W. Main St from the endangered buildings list.

Executive Director Marianne Zickuhr says Whiskey Row has been an important achievement for the organization.

“Knowing that we had both entities the preservation successes list and the endangered list that had entries from whiskey row it was obviously a controversial time,” she says “but we’re standing here full of smiles and wonderful, wonderful happiness because of what a great deal has been reached between the developer and the city.”

Local News Next Louisville Politics

Preservation Louisville Encourages Followers To Attend City Budget Hearings

Whiskey Row/Iron Quarter (photo by Sheila Ash)Preservation Louisville is asking members and followers to take their concerns over the possible destruction of a strip of downtown buildings to the mayor’s public budget hearings.

The mayor’s office has agreed to let developer Todd Blue destroy the buildings at First and Main streets to make room for a parking lot and later a new development. The mayor has also agreed to set aside $450,000 in the new budget to help Blue preserve or recreate the facades.

Preservation groups have criticized the deal. They want it to go through the local landmarks commission, and hope the facades will be saved or that the buildings will be kept intact. Preservation Louisville director Marianne Zickuhr says she hopes like-minded Louisvillians will ask the mayor about the issue at the budget hearings.

“I’m hoping that in these open, community meetings, I feel like that would be the reason for having these types of meeting and I’m hoping we’ll get some productive resolution out of them,” she says. “I know there are others who are not, but I am extremely optimistic that we have a mayor who is open to hearing our views and definitely is going to allow us to express how we feel and what the facts are.”

The Metro Council could pull the $450,000 allocation out of the budget. The chair of the budget committee says the council has not been fully briefed on the issue, but adds that on the surface, it looks like a hard sell.

Blue and the city contend that the buildings are unsafe and cannot be preserved. For more on this story, see our previous coverage.

Local News

Preservation Louisville on Iron Quarter Settlement

Members of Preservation Louisville are reviewing the settlement over the Iron Quarter buildings and will release a statement today.

Louisville Metro Government and developer Todd Blue reached an agreement over the future of the historic but dilapidated buildings along east Main Street yesterday.

Blue wanted to destroy the buildings at First and Main to make room for a hotel and restaurant development. Metro Government officials wanted to preserve at least part of the buildings.

On Monday, Blue agreed to drop his lawsuit against the city over the matter in exchange for help preserving the facades.

The agreement gives Blue permission to demolish the buildings in 90 days. During that time, Blue and city officials will research the best method of either preserving the existing facades or building replicas of them.

Preservation Louisville supports saving the buildings in their entirety, not just the facades.

Local News

Whiskey Row Block Dominates Preservation Louisville Lists

by Gabe Bullard

Preservation Louisville has released its annual lists of the ten most endangered historic places and top ten preservation successes.

Topping the list of successes was Patrick O’Shea’s at 2nd and Main Streets. Topping the endangered list was the as-yet undeveloped Iron Quarter, directly to the east.

Many of the most endangered buildings have histories similar to the Iron Quarter—they were purchased, but not developed and have fallen into a state of disrepair.

Preservation Louisville executive director Marianne Zickuhr says she hopes the lists will spur the owners of endangered properties to seek funding to preserve their buildings.

“There are several programs like Metro Louisville’s façade loan program, like the Kentucky historic preservation tax credit, there are also a federal historic preservation tax credits for commercial projects, many of which are being used,” she says.

Preservation groups have released lists of endangered sites Louisville for years.  This is the third year for the list of successes.

Top Ten Most Endangered Historic Places

  1. Whiskey Row 105-119 W. Main (Iron Quarter)
  2. Historic properties in the proposed bridge route
  3. Victorian house on Frankfort
  4. Shotgun houses
  5. Park Hill District
  6. Colonial Gardens
  7. Water Co. Block buildings
  8. Corner store fronts
  9. Ouerbacker House
  10. Art Deco Buildings

Top Ten Preservation Successes

  1. Patrick O’Sheas (Whiskey Row)
  2. Riverside – The Farnsley Moormen Landing – Chapel
  3. Thomas Edison House
  4. SAR – Fulton Conway
  5. Locust Grove
  6. The Blind Pig
  7. Firehouse – Shelby and Main streets
  8. Howard Steamboat Museum
  9. GQ Unlimited
  10. Trolley barns
Arts and Humanities Local News

Group Lists City's Most Endangered Historic Places

endangered-01-shoutgun1A Louisville group identified the city’s 10 most endangered historic places along with some positive news. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

Preservation Louisville released the list today along with the city’s top 10 preservation successes. The group praises the renovation of the US Marine Hospital in the Portland neighborhood and Corbett’s, an eastern Louisville restaurant housed in a mansion that was part of a dairy farm.

Both lists reference Louisville’s shotgun houses. The successes include Habitat for Humanity’s rehabilitation of such a house in the city’s west end and the endangered list includes all the city’s shotgun houses, says Preservation Louisville’s executive director Marianne Zickuhr.

“They’re a very big part of our heritage and our history,” Zickuhr says. “And the fact of the matter is that they’re being torn down all over the city at a rapid pace.”

Zickuhr says Louisville has the most shotgun houses just after New Orleans and that this is the first time a local preservation group has released a list of successes.

“The successes are really a way for us to help the community understand that you can be a good steward to these buildings,” she says, “and you can be a part of to helping to keep that historic fabric of our community intact.”

Also among Louisville’ 10 most endangered historic places are structures in Iron Quarter of West Main Street and historic buildings in the Water Company block, which is to be developed by the Cordish Company as Center City District. The company also built Fourth Street Live.

Zickuhr says that preserving historical properties does not inhibit obstruct property development.

“It’s a protection,” she says. “It’s something that will help the developers in the future to keep the property values going up because of the how important the historical significance of their property is.”

Zickuhr says developments like downtown’s Henry Clay building are good examples. It houses apartments, a restaurant, a theater and offices.


Louisvilles Top 10 Most Endangered Historic Places List
Shotgun Houses
Water Co. Block Historic Buildings
Victorian House on Frankfort Avenue
Historic Firehouses
Old Dental School at Brook and Broadway
Park Hill district
Corner Store Fronts
Historic Properties within the Proposed New Bridge Route
Iron Quarter
Ouerbacker House

Louisvilles Top 10 Preservation Success
US Marine Hospital
Wayside Buildings
Vogt Building
Henry Clay
Reynolds Building
American Standard
1254 S. Brook St.
Howard Hardy House
Corbetts Restaurant
1702 Prentice St. (Habitat for Humanity House)

Criteria used to determine if a property is added to these lists:
1. On the National Register of Historic Places or be eligible
2. Within the metro Louisville region (Jefferson County; Floyd and Clark counties of southern Indiana)
3. For most endangered list – in imminent threat of demolition or in severely deteriorated condition