Old Louisville Walking Tour

From the Old Louisville Information Center building, head south and cross Magnolia Avenue to the West side of St James Court, which is where our tour Begins.   Continue south on St. James Court to Belgravia Court.  See area map.

The Southern Exposition  of 1883 (picture) covered approximately 40 acres, which included what is now Central Park and St. James, Belgravia, and Fountain Courts.  William H. Slaughter bought the area south of Central Park after the exposition closed in 1887 and formed the Victoria Land Company, which sold the property lots.  Slaughter designed the center greens and ordered the fountain and lions.  The two resting lions at each end of the Court were to "guard" Magnolia (then called Victoria Place) at Sixth Street.   Picture, early St. James Court
     It is 1903 and the evening is warm for October.  The premiere of "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch" has been a smashing success.  Mrs. Rice made a lovely speech afterward.  Now it's time to end an already unforgettable evening by attending the reception at the Conrad's.
      There's Sarah Henning from Fourth Avenue going up the walk, and here come the Moxleys from Belgravia Court.  Do you have your invitation?   The Butler is opening the door.  Let's go in!


1. 1402 St. James Court   (1894)
Conrad-Caldwell House
Richardsonian Romanesque
Theophilus Conrad, tanner

Also known as "Conrad's Castle," this is one of the most magnificent of Old Louisville's houses and defines Richardsonian Romanesque architecture.  The building price was $35,000.  Walk around it and enjoy its gargoyles, swags, massive arches and fleur-de-lis.  The Caldwell family purchased it in 1905 after Mr. Conrad's death.    They lived there for 35 years.  It next served as the Rose Anna Hughes Presbyterian (nursing) Home for 40 years.  The St. James Court Association purchased it in 1987.  It is open from noon-4 PM Sunday through Wednesday (from 10 on Saturday)  at a minimal charge (phone 636-5032).  Some period furnishings are original to the house.    
More info with picture


2. 1412 St. James Court  (1898)
Neo-Colonial Revival with Arts and Crafts motifs
John P. Starks, haberdasher

The stairwell is burled tiger maple, and the woodwork in the house is mahogany.   Architectural features are it's compact, massive, hipped roof and central entry with a portico.


3. 1418 St. James Court (1837)
DuPont Cottage
Vernacular Cottage
Cuthbert Bullitt

The oldest known building in Old Louisville was originally a summer house and was moved from its original location in Central Park.  A private garden of trees and wild flowers shields this quaint building from the Court traffic.


4. 1424 St. James Court    (1901)
Venetian Gothic
Hindman Briscoe, insurance agent

The Venetian Gothic influence is evident here.  The painted terra-cotta façade was first made into molds and then baked.  Note the treatment at the roof, the unusual scroll around the third floor windows, and the handsome leaded glass window on the south side.
Mary Alice Hadley began making her famous pottery in the hayloft of the carriage house.   Hadley Pottery is now located at 1570 Story Avenue. picture


5. The St. James Fountain

Since the late 1800's, this Victorian landmark has been a favorite with both neighborhood residents and visitors.  The original fountain was cast iron.  After several efforts to halt deterioration, the residents of the Court decided to have the fountain dismantled and recast in bronze.  After 3 years, the Fine Arts Sculpture Center in Michigan returned the fountain, and a special dedication ceremony was held in 1975.  Picture


6. 1436 St. James Court (1901)
Georgian Revival
Charles Compton, L&N Traffic Manager

This 2½ story brick house has a round entry portico set beneath a rounded bay.  It was purchased in 1907 by Madison Cawein, Kentucky's first poet laureate.  Cawein was a member of the thriving artistic and literary community in the area and was often called the Audubon of Poetry because of his many poems about nature.


7. 1440 St. James Court (1892)
Queen Anne
Frank M. Lampton, oil and lamp manufacturer

In later years the house was owned by the Mormon Church, and regular services were held here.  The current owner has long been a leader in historic preservation in Old Louisville and helped establish the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival.


8. 1444 St. James Court (1910)
Neo-Colonial Revival
Cale Young Rice, poet

Cale Young Rice was a successful poet and dramatist.  His wife was Alice Hegan Rice (1870-1942), author of the turn-of-the-century best seller, Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch.  The book was made into a play, which opened in 1903 at the Macauley Theater.  Shirley Temple starred in one movie version.


9. 1468 St. James Court (1891)
Arts & Crafts
Charles W. Buck, attorney and author

Originally built by the Victoria Land Company, it is one of three joined houses.   Above the portico rises a polyonat turret.  Note the patterns in the front brick walk.


At the intersection of Belgravia Court, turn east and continue along the south side of Belgravia.  As you walk down Belgravia Court, observe it's charm.  Walking courts are unique to Louisville, and Belgravia was the City's first walking Court


10. 1473 St. James Court    (1891)
"The Pink Palace" or "The Casino"
Eclectic with Chateauesque detail
George C. Avery, President, B.F. Avery Farm Equipment

This was built as the St. James Club Casino, a private club for residents of St. James and Belgravia.  There were tennis courts in the rear.  It was later owned by the Women's Christian Temperance Union.  One of its more colorful residents was George H. "Eardrum" Wilson, so nicknamed for his invention of an early hearing device.   "Eardrum" was also the first person on the Court to own an automobile.   Renovation added an in-ground pool, brick wall, and leaded glass in the turret.   Picture


11. 422 Belgravia Court      (1892-1893)
Eclectic with Neo-Classical motif
John H. Pearson, renter, and City of Louisville engineer

A terra-cotta panel with relief work centers the façade at the second story.  An open, recessed loggia at the third floor has small Ionic columns.


12. 420 Belgravia Court      (1892-1893)
Eclectic with Romanesque details
Edward F. Goodwin, renter, and clerk for Standard Oil

Note the brick terra-cotta trim and the second story diamond pane windows with brick infilling.  This is one of three row houses.


13. 402 Belgravia Court (1897)
French Renaissance Chateauesque
Dr. William Wathen, renter, physician, distiller, University of Louisville Professor

One of Louisville's finest copies of the Chateauesque mansions of New York, it is currently divided into several apartments.


At the end of Belgravia Court, exit south onto Fourth Street.


14. 1468 South 4th Street (1897)
William M. Botto, renter, artist

The entry is on the right and has an elaborate openwork, gabled hood in a stylized Gothic motif, with piers rising on either side


15. 1470  South 4th Street (1897)
Allen R. Hite, renter, attorney

A low section on the left is pierced by two rectangular windows in stained glass transoms.   Mr. Hite endowed the Fine Arts Department at the University of Louisville.


16. 1472  South 4th Street (1897)
Oscar Fenley, renter, President, National Bank of Louisville

The entry is sheltered by a porch supported by piers with a Gothic triangular motif.   The oriel window is on the left of the façade, with two window openings having stained glass transoms.

(402 Belgravia Court and 1468-1472  South 4th Street were built as rental properties by Joseph Werne, owner of a jewelry store)

 picture of this row of houses

At the Hill Street intersection, cross over Fourth Street and walk north along the east side of Fourth Street for two blocks.


17.  1479  South 4th Street  (1908)
Belgravia Apartments
Classical Revival

The second floor balcony provided a cool place for tenants to socialize on warm evenings.


18. 1469 South 4th Street (1904)
Classical Revival
Rebecca Culbertson, widow

This is an example of one of the fine homes in the area adapted for commercial reuse.   The imposing Ionic columns frame the handsome entry and the unusual windows on the second floor.


19. 1461 South 4th Street (1904)
Charles H. Wintersmith, Wintersmith Medicine Company

This 2½ Story brick residence has an irregularly patterned, Bedford limestone veneer (not original) on the façade only.  A classic porch wraps the north side of the house.


20. 1449 South 4th Street (1905)
Graham Vreeland, Managing Editor, The Courier-Journal

The beautiful design in the door's stained glass is emphasized by its repetition in the window on the left.  The gabled dormer has a Palladian window with leaded glass.


21. 1445 South 4th Street  (1902)
Classical Revival
Daniel Altsheler, wholesale grocer

The sculpted stone around the windows is of particular interest.  The paint gives the house a warm, textured appearance.


22. 1423 South 4th Street   (1893)
Augustus E. Wilson, travel agent and later 38th Governor of Kentucky

Notice the terra-cotta detailing around the sides of the house.


23. 1419 South 4th Street   (1880)
Victorian Vernacular
Alexis I. DuPont, gunpowder and paper manufacturer

The turret is the most significant feature.  It is said to be one of the oldest structures in Old Louisville, having been built before the Southern Exposition.  The tiny square glasses in the window were popular in the 1880's.


24. 1415 South 4th Street   (1893)
H. H. Wolfe, wholesale clothing

On the right side of the dwelling, the wall and windows are designed so each room receives sunlight.


25. 1411 South 4th Street  (1887)
Victorian Town House
Herman Beckers, owner of Anderson and Nelson Distillers

Outstanding features are the arched windows on all three floors and the stained glass window on the south side.  The interior has a redwood Jacuzzi on the first floor.   Once divided into 12 apartments, the house is once again a single-family dwelling.


26. 1401 South 4th Street   (1886)
R. H. Higgins, wholesale whiskey

The courtyard is beautifully landscaped and includes a swimming pool.


27. 1387 South 4th Street   (1872)
Landward House
Italian Renaissance Revival
Dr. Stuart Robinson, minister

The home is patterned after the urban palaces of Italy.  In the early 1900's, the side porch  and brick walls were added.  The garden was designed in 1910 by the renowned firm of Frederick Law Olmsted.  Dr. Stuart Robinson was an important minister, and a Presbyterian church at Sixth St. and Magnolia Ave. was named for him.


28. 1381 South 4th Street   (1897)
Classical Revival
Sarah K. Henning, widow

The right section of the façade projects in a circular bay with two windows on each floor and has the same decorative treatment as the left section.


29. 1375 South 4th Street   (1894)
B. M. Allison, factory manager, and R. H. Young, attorney

One of the building's outstanding features is a whimsical, mustachioed face resting on a swag and topped by affronted scrolls bearing a torch.  Inside, there is a grand oak staircase and parquet floors edged in differing ribbon patterns.  The structure is a wonderful example of the exuberance of design found in the Victorian era.


30. 1371 South 4th Street   (1887)
Colonial Revival
Mary K Cummins, widow

A group of beautiful leaded glass windows rounds the corner of the building.  The three story enclosed porch and the first story bay window were added to this six-condominium dwelling during renovation.


31. 1353 South 4th Street   (1885)
Vernon D. Price, vinegar manufacturer and President of the Saturday Evening Post

Multi-colored tiles decorate the transom above the second floor windows. The cornice of the dormer is accented by medallions of pressed tin, which may have adorned the façade at one time.  Art glass is in the central roof gable.  The front porch has a marble ceiling.


32. 1349 South 4th Street   (1886)
Catherine M. Short, widow

A Queen Anne style is characterized by the decorative brick, varied roof line, and lack of symmetry.  The visual effectiveness of the home lies in the variety of planes used.


At the intersection of Park Avenue, cross over Fourth Street, then walk south back toward Belgravia Court.


33. 1400 South 4th Street   (1895)
St. Paul Episcopal Church
Gothic Revival

It is delicately detailed with numerous stained glass windows and a cloister-like porch on the façade.  Its architect, Arthur Loomis, also designed the Conrad-Caldwell House.   In 1991, it was purchased by the West End Baptist Church.


34. 1420 South 4th Street   (1896)
Jacob Gast, Gast and Bishop Brokers

This three story residence contains all of the  architectural elements of the High   Victorian Eclectic Style: Richardsonian, Queen Anne and Italianate.  Enjoy!


35. 1424 South 4th Street   (1898)
Graham Vreeland, Managing Editor of The Courier-Journal

Note the contrast of the different building materials and the center brickwork above the roof


Enter Belgravia Court on the north side and walk towards St. James Court.


36. 409 Belgravia Court   (1899-1900)
Delozier Moxley, speculator

A three story, buff brick with carved foliate trim, the second story windows have round arch tops with peacock's tail and leaded glass panes.


37. 415 Belgravia Court   (1893)
William C. Garland, partner in mill supply firm

This home has an attractive leaded glass bay window installed during renovation.  The ornate trim above the entry is sandstone, one of the easier stones to carve.


Upon reaching St. James Court, turn north and continue towards Magnolia Avenue


38. 1453 St. James Court   (1907)
Classical Revival
Emil S. Tachau, architect

Note the hearts on the window balcony, the sculpted keys and urns on each side of the walkway, and the Greek goddess faces in the architecture.  A later owner, Mrs. Kirtley Cleveland, then President of the St. James Court Association, solved the problem of people parking on the center greens by letting air out of their tires.  As a child, she wrote Oh Ye Jigs and Juleps, a collection of humorous essays.


39. 1445 St. James Court   (1892)
Thomas H. Slaughter

Marguerite Gifford, a well-known artist, lived here with her husband for many years.   In addition to her paintings, she was famous for her watermelon pickles recipe.   This is one of the earliest residences on the Court.


40. 1443 St. James Court   (1900)
R. B. Hickman

Extensive renovation has been done, with one result being the discovery of an early mural on the dining room wall.


41. 1439 St. James Court   (1900)
Russell M. Hughes, vinegar manufacturer

This dwelling has been returned to its original use as a town house duplex.


42. Fountain Court was originally called Fountain Place in reference to the St. James Fountain.  The walking court is near the site of the main entrance to the Southern Exposition.


43. 1433-1435 St. James Court  (1897)
Theophilus Conrad, Tanner

St. James Flats was originally six stories high and appeared a high rise compared to the elegant three story private homes on the Court.  Court residents sued Mr. Conrad when it was first built.  Conrad won because the judge ruled it was a residence, not a commercial building.  In 1912, a fire damaged the top floors so badly that they were removed and the roof line redesigned.


44. 1431 St. James Court  (1894)
Richardsonian Romanesque
Dr. Lewis S. McMurtry, physician

The terra-cotta trim compliments the red brick.  Extensive renovation began in 1978.   A later owner wrote several cookbooks for the Courier-Journal newspaper and for Southern Living magazine, and is the founder of Kentucky Bed and Breakfast.


45. 1419 St. James Court    (1896)
Neo-Colonial Revival
Edmond Trabue, attorney and judge

The Trabue's daughter, Lucinda Brent, was a later resident of this home.  She was known for her parties and was called the "Queen of St. James Court."


46. 1415 St. James Court  (1905)
The Milton Apartments
Colonial with Arts & Crafts
John Milton, Secretary of  The Courier Journal

This is a fine example of an early twentieth-century apartment house.  The central staircase, viewed through the Palladian window, is breathtaking.  Five mayors resided in St. James Court, one of whom lived here.


The tour ends at the intersection of St. James Court and Magnolia Avenue


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