Old Louisville Walking Tour

From the Old Louisville Information Center building in Central Park, exit east onto Magnolia Avenue.  Turn North onto Fourth Street for two blocks, then east onto Ormsby.  Turn south onto Third Street.   On your right is the Filson Club where parking is normally available. The walking tour begins at the Filson Club.  See area map.


It is the early 1900s, and the Ferguson home is ablaze with lights as it is being readied for the "coming out" party of Miss Margaret Fullerton Ferguson.  Miss Margaret made her debut with 29 other "flowers of society" at the Galt House last Saturday night.

The orchestra is tuning.   Miss Jennie C. Benedict, the caterer, and her staff have just finished placing the Waterford crystal on the Belgian lace covered tables.  Miss Gloyer is mounting the back stairs with her latest silk creation for Miss Margaret. 

Meanwhile, fair-skinned Margaret is rubbing her face and arms as hard as she can with water from St. Patrick's Well.  Yesterday, she returned home in an open carriage from the races at Churchill Downs, and the freckles are already beginning to appear.

The orchestra is beginning to play "Juanita."  Mr. Edward Hite Ferguson is standing at the top of the flower laden grand staircase ready to escort his daughter down.  Smooth your skirt or adjust your bow tie.  Please have your calling card ready.  It's time to go in.


1. 1310 S. Third Street    (1905)
Ferguson Mansion
Beaux Arts
Edwin H. Ferguson, owner Kentucky Oil Refinery

The house is modeled after a French chateau.  The windows have intricate carvings, elaborate roof trim and heavy quoining.  Walk around and view all sides of the house and carriage house.  It is one of the most architecturally significant houses in the area.

It is now occupied by The Filson Club, which houses local and state history, genealogy documents, art and rare Kentucky artifacts.  A museum of Louisville memorabilia is located in the carriage house.  A tour of the main house and the carriage house is free.  Enter through the side door off the drive.  Hours are 9 AM to 5 PM Monday-Friday and 9 AM to 12 noon Saturday.  The museum is open from 10 AM to 4 PM Monday-Friday (phone 635-5083).
See also The Filson Club Home Page                          Picture

After the Filson Club, go south along the west side of Third Street


2. 1324 and 1326 S. Third Street    (1890)
Queen Anne
E. H. Bower, wholesale produce merchant

An example of an early duplex, this residence was built for two sisters as a gift from their father.  Each side had a private entrance with an offset front porch, supposedly so the sisters could sit outside without looking at each other.


3. 1330 S. Third Street    (1893)
C. L. Robinson, planter

Outstanding features are the pattern over the doorway, the second floor Palladian windows, and the beveled, stained, colored, and geometric glass.  The fireplace has elaborate millwork and rare marble


4. 1346 S. Third Street    (1900)
Fannie Gauman, widow

The lancet windows reflect Gothic influences, with Victorian egg and dart trim.  This building won a preservation rehabilitation award.


5. 1348 S. Third Street    (1870)
Rev. John J. Cooke, Presbyterian minister

The structure has been enlarged over the years, but was a one family dwelling until 1979.   There is still a working elevator at the rear of the building.  Many interesting residents have occupied the house, including a Kentucky pioneer, Dr. Christopher Columbus Graham.  He was a scientist, author, adventurer, and crack rifle shot.
The fašade consists of five bays; the three left bays are recessed and sheltered by a one story classical porch


6. 1366 S. Third Street    (1892)
French Renaissance Revival/Richardsonian Romanesque
Beverly P. Grigsby, President, Fulton-Conway Company carriage works

There is a nice contrast between the smooth white limestone and the red brick.  The Romanesque architecture is evident in the rounded arch over the door and the oriel turret above and to the north side of the arch.  Notice the details carved in the stone.


7. 1382 S. Third Street    (1887)
Wellspring House
Italianate/Renaissance Revival
Charles Bremaker, Moody & Bremaker

This has been a personal care home since 1950.  St. Patrick's is an artesian well located in the rear of the house.  It was named this when, on St. Patrick's Day in 1886, a worker drilling for natural gas found mineral water instead.  The water was bottled and sold until 1960.  The well is now inoperable and private.


8. 1408 S. Third Street    (1881)
John William Green, land broker

The two intercepting rectangular blocks with pitched roofs meet with the rectangular tower at the intersection.  An Eastlake porch visually connects the two blocks and the tower.


9. 1416 S. Third Street    (1893)
Richardsonian Romanesque
W. W. Hite, President, Railroad Supply Company

A one story porch located on the fašade protects the entry.  The building's features are stylized columns, wide arches with wide voussoirs, and medallions of bearded men.


10. 1432 S. Third Street    (1897)
Renaissance Classical Revival
Samuel A. Culbertson, banker

Outstanding architectural details are the wreaths and garlands.  Inside, there is a finely crafted staircase and a huge parlor-library the length of the house.  Another Victorian Culbertson Family mansion is at 914 E. Main Street in New Albany, Indiana, and is open for tours.
See the Culbertson Mansion Home Page for more details and an extensive history of this house.  Other pictures of this house: 1897 view, autumn 1998


11. 1442 S. Third Street    (1897-1900)
Italianate Renaissance
Samuel Grabfelder, distillery owner

The great entry hall has a carved mahogany ceiling, the many parquet floors have different patterns, one bedroom mantle has a secret jewelry compartment.  Horse stalls are still intact in the carriage house. picture


12. 1450 S. Third Street    (1890)
Princess Anne
John F. Sheckler, merchant/

The house was heated by eight coal-burning fireplaces until 1948 when a furnace was first installed.  This house and the one to the south were built as rental properties.


13. 1458 S. Third Street    (1903)
Oscar Fenley, bank president

As in most of these large homes a back staircase existed for the use of servants.   The family never went into any part of the house, yard, or carriage house where the servants worked or lived.  Interior features were wallpaper from France and red curtains sewn with real gold thread.


14. 1482 S. Third Street   (1927)
Mid-Continent Petroleum Corporation

Burton's DX Filling Station began several decades of operation on this site in 1944.   It is currently an auto service and repair shop.


To continue the tour cross Third Street at the intersection and head north along the east side of Third Street.  Although not covered on this tour, the mansions extend many more blocks to the south, to the Confederate Monument seen in the distance.  Near the monument are also the J.B. Speed Art Museum and the Belknap Playhouse on the campus of the University of Louisville.   An exploration of all of these areas is very worthwhile for those who have the time.


15. 1477 S. Third Street    (1901)
Classical Revival
A. M. Dick, manufacturing representative

The right bay contains a recessed entry capped by a crenellated parapet.  The left section consists of a series of paired piers resting on a balustrade.  Three windows are coupled between each pier group.  Notice how the pattern is repeated on all three stories.


16. 1449 S. Third Street    (1896)
Eclectic/Classical Revival with Beaux Arts
Charles L. Nelson, insurance company manager

This home has decorative brick around the windows on the first and second floors.  A terra-cotta wreath completes the design of the second floor window.


17. 1433 S. Third Street    (1897)
William Thalheimer, wholesale shoes

A central, single story porch is topped by a balcony with an intricate ironwork railing.   In the upper portions of the pavilion, a projecting concave gable contains a pair of windows capped by fan-like panels bearing a sunburst motif. picture of this area


18. 1421 S. Third Street    (1898)
Victorian Vernacular
W. W. Morris, insurance

This three story brick structure has a one story classical porch spanning its fašade.   To the north is a door with multi-light panels and side lights surmounted by a fan-light transom.


19. 1417 S. Third Street    (1901)
Classical Revival
Henry Wolff, distillery owner

The angling of the windows on the north and south sides is an innovative way to bring additional light into the house.  Note the terra-cotta decorations above the windows on the first and second floors.


20. 1415 S. Third Street    (1890)
Richardsonian Romanesque
William W. Morris, secretary of insurance company

See how many different stone carvings you can discover on this beautiful fašade.  As with many buildings from this period, all the fancy stone carving is on the front of the house, and it becomes plainer as you look toward the side.


21. 1397 S. Third Street    (1897)
P. F. Walsh, merchant/tailor

This corner house presents a face to both Third Street and Magnolia.  A careful look will reveal brackets and lentils under the eaves.  Note the elaborate terra-cotta decoration around the windows.  On the third floor there is evidence of pollution damage to the sandstone.


22. 1381  S. Third Street    (1901)
Classical Revival
C. P. Robinson, wholesale hardware

The tile porch was added in 1920.  A Palladian window is on the left bay of the second floor in a terra-cotta surround.  The right bay is curved and has two windows.


23. 1369  S. Third Street    (1895)
Romanesque Revival
Ewing Eaches, statistical clerk, Louisville Board of Trade

The most spectacular feature of this house is the glass canopy


24. 1365  S. Third Street    (1897)
G. W. Lewman, general contractor

The entry on the left is sheltered by an outstanding porch with terra-cotta trim and arched openings.  Above the entry on the second and third stories are paired windows set between pilasters.  The pilasters form pinnacles that flank a gothic gable face.


25. 1359  S. Third Street    (1901)
Old Louisville Inn
Beaux Arts
John Armstrong, President, Louisville Home Telephone Company

This building has several ceilings with murals that tell stories and is decorated in period furniture with many original fixtures.  It is open from 9 AM to 9 PM for free tours.  It is now a bed and breakfast inn.  (635-1574)      Picture 


26. 1341 S. Third Street    (1886)
David Davis, hides and wool

The octagonal turret on the north side is connected to a gabled section by a rectangle.   Notice the semicircular arch above the third floor window.


27. 1329 S. Third Street    (1895)
J. J. Otter

The second floor is a fine example of an oriel window.  Observe the interesting contrast between the flat limestone and narrow yellow brick.


28.. 1325  S. Third Street    (1885)
Beaux Arts
Col. C. C. Mengel, President, Mengel Furniture Company

The facade is accented by a one story porch with ionic columns capped by a balustrade.   Note the windows on the north side.  picture


29. 1323  S. Third Street    (1889)
Richardsonian Romanesque
(Carriage House)
George Conway, manufacturer of wagons and carriages

The main house at 1323 was demolished and replaced by the Carleton Apartments, but the original carriage house remains and is now divided into six apartments.  You may walk around the outside of this exemplary carriage house.


30. 1315  S. Third Street    (1927)
Southland Apartments

This four story, red brick building contains 41 apartments.  The front is designed to look like an English mansion.


31. 1311  S. Third Street    (1892)
Richardsonian Romanesque
E. V. Thompson

Although Henry Hobson Richardson did not design any buildings in Louisville, this rusticated limestone structure seems influenced by him.  You can see this influence in the castle appearance of its Roman arch over the front door and a small turret just off center on the third floor.  The intricate stone carvings are most interesting. picture


32. 1305  S. Third Street    (1917)
Neoclassical Revival
First Church of Christ Scientist

Each limestone column in front of the church was carved in one piece and transported from Bowling Green, Kentucky to Louisville. 


The tour ends at the Ormsby Avenue intersection

Webmaster's note:  It seems the author of this tour may have confused the ubiquitous red sandstone found as architectural elements in Old Louisville with terra-cotta.  The sandstone is local, and when it was used, architects assumed that it was the same durable variety of hard red sandstone used heavily throughout central Europe.  It is not. In fact, this soft sandstone deteriorates very badly under local climate conditions.  You will see a large amount of damaged ornaments; some are even missing altogether.  Much of this stone has been painted by homeowners attempting to arrest the deterioration.  Some homes display a mixture of the hard and soft sandstone varieties (e.g. 1432 which is, alas, also painted.)  The hard stone is recognizable by its fine detail and state of preservation.


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