Historic Preservation District
HISTORIC AND ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE
The Clifton neighborhood is located in eastern Louisville, and is composed of approximately 423 acres of land
bounded by Brownsboro
Road to the
north, Interstate 64 to the south, Ewing Avenue to the east and Mellwood Avenue to the west. It is
a compact and cohesive neighborhood that effectively displays the evolution of
the area from a sparsely populated rural community to a densely settled urban Louisville neighborhood. It
has been evaluated for this proposed Local Landmark District designation within
the context of community planning and development. This Local Landmark
designation report chronicles Clifton’s historic and architectural evolution by examining the
following phases of the area’s development:
transportation-related development; the emergence of gentleman farms and
truck farms; the proliferation of industry, subdivision of land, and
residential development; and finally, Clifton’s commercial development.
This Local Landmark District designation identifies __ buildings as
historically and architecturally contributing and ___ as non-contributing. ___ structures and
sites contribute as well.
boundaries chosen for the Clifton District are based on the original lots
historically associated with those buildings and sites which share a common architectural
style, physical characteristics representing established and familiar visual
features, historic development, and function and reflect the neighborhood’s
Previous National Register
The Clifton Neighborhood
District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983
based on the area’s significance related to architecture, education, and
industry between the years 1870 and 1930. At the time of listing, 623 buildings
were listed as contributing historically and architecturally to the district
and approximately 40 buildings were included as non-contributing.
In 1994 the original National
Register District was expanded based on
community planning and historic development contexts. This expansion included
an additional 200 acres, and added 332 contributing and 129 non-contributing
sites and two contributing and no non-contributing structures to Clifton’s inventory of resources.
buildings within the boundaries proposed for Local Landmark District
designation have been individually listed on the National Register of Historic
- The Albert A. Stoll Firehouse/Hook and Ladder
Company #3 (listed in 1980 as a contributor to the thematic
“Firehouses of Louisville”
National Register nomination) at 1761 Frankfort
- Widman’s Saloon
and Grocery/Irish Rover Pub (listed in 1990) at 2319
- Clifton’s Three Mile Tollhouse/Ray Parella’s, (listed in 1990) at 2311
Frankfort Avenue; and
- St. Frances of Rome School/Clifton Center,
(listed in 1987) at 2117 Payne Street.
Historic and Architectural Continuum
The Clifton area stands apart from nearby neighborhoods in terms of
its historical development, commercial and residential building stock and
feeling of time, place, and association.
The Butchertown National Register District (1976) is located
immediately to the west of the district while the Crescent Hill National
Register District (1982) adjoins it to the east.
like Clifton, is a working class neighborhood composed of a residential
mix. However, its major period of development is slightly older that that of Clifton. Therefore, its building stock reflects earlier
architectural trends and technologies.
Butchertown reflects a historically mixed-use character with residential
and industrial buildings standing side-by-side, whereas Clifton reflects a more exclusively residential character.
Hill, to the east of Clifton, experienced its major period of growth between 1890 and
1920 making and its building stock slightly newer than Clifton’s. It too has a mixture of residential and commercial uses, however, little industry historically existed there.
Crescent Hill has always attracted solidly middle to upper-class residents who
could afford the fine homes (some designed by architects) built upon generously
sized lots. Middle-class residents whose homes were modest in size and built on
lots that were small, by contrast, have historically populated Clifton.
Transportation Related Developments in Clifton
Records indicate that in the
years before the 1830s Clifton was primarily a rural community near Louisville. Its location
approximately five miles east of Louisville’s center, meant it was accessible
only by foot, horse, or carriage.
nineteenth century transportation-related developments, which had a major
impact on the neighborhood in terms of later development, were the construction
of a toll road and the construction of a railroad. Both shaped the Clifton neighborhood’s physical expansion and commercial
toll road, officially called the Louisville and Shelbyville Turnpike,
follows the path of what is presently known as Frankfort Avenue. By 1830 it passed
through rural farms whose acreage was carved from the original land grant
parcels issued to soldiers for their service in the French and Indian War of
1773. The toll road was built upon a
high ridge that ran through present-day Clifton on a trail originally formed by migrating buffalo and
second major development, which occurred in the late 1840s, was the
establishment of the Louisville and Frankfort Railroad. This railroad, which was intended to
facilitate the movement of goods and people to and from Louisville, converged in what would become the heart of Clifton with the already existing turnpike road at a point known
as Bowles’ Station. There it followed a
path parallel to the turnpike road.
turnpike road and the rail line made areas east of the city more accessible, an
increasing number of people moved out to the country. With the City of Louisville as the hub, streets and highways radiated from it like the
spokes of a wheel. Traveling in an
eastward direction from the heart of the city, Phoenix Hill and Butchertown were settled first (circa 1840 to 1880),
followed by Clifton, and later, Crescent Hill (circa 1860 to 1920). Therefore, Clifton’s development straddles the historic and architectural
continuum in Louisville’s development outward from west to east.
The earliest remnant of Clifton’s building stock that can be definitely traced to its
turnpike origins is the Federal vernacular style Three Mile Tollhouse
(National Register listed, 1990). It was
constructed circa 1830 at about the same time the toll road was completed. Its placement on the lot close to the road
and its simplicity of design denote a building intended to be functional. It was here that the tollgate keeper and his
family lived while collecting tolls and maintaining their five-mile stretch of
road. Its construction in brick implies
it was to be durable as well. Indeed, after the turnpike system was
discontinued in 1901 the tollhouse continued to be used for the public
good. City Directories indicate that
around 1910 it was used as a police substation/jail.
common for certain types of businesses to sprout up near tollhouses and
tollgates. Saloons, taverns, grocery stores, inns, livery stables, blacksmith
shops and the like were logically located near transportation systems. Turnpike travelers, who were tired, hungry
and thirsty, would stop to get a bite to eat, perhaps something to drink, and
could allow their horses to rest, and cool down. For the thirsty and hungry
traveler, there were several saloons and groceries nearby. Widman’s
Saloon and Grocery/Irish Rover Pub (2317 Frankfort Avenue), which dates from 1858, and Spect’s
built in 1887, were typical of bars and eateries in Clifton that operated along the Louisville and Shelbyville Turnpike. Located approximately one block
away from each other, they are remarkably similar in design. Both are two story brick structures with
storefronts on the ground level and living quarter above. Each was constructed in the Italianate style
and are sited close to the street. Their façade arrangement, style, setback, and
massing are quite typical of commercial structures found throughout Louisville from the 1850s time period. Several similar commercial buildings
constructed along the turnpike road are still standing in Clifton as well.
Phase II: The Emergence of Gentleman Farms and Truck Farms
Before the 1850s large
landowners in Clifton fell into two categories:
Gentleman farmers and truck farmers.
Gentleman farmers grew a limited amount of crops. Goods harvested by such farmers were
generally intended for household consumption rather than for retail sale or
trade. The primary means of support for
gentleman farmers was from a source other than farm based (ie.
business, government or manufacturing).
Gentleman farmers earned enough money in these outside endeavors to
purchase houses and other means of conveyance (usually a carriage or horses)
that would enable them to travel from their rural home into the city where they
customarily conducted business. Truck farmers,
on the other hand, grew crops intended for sale or barter to outside
markets. Trucks farmers in Clifton generally sold their goods to neighbors or to city
dwellers by transporting them by wagon to Louisville market houses.
Clifton’s earliest and most influential settler was gentleman
farmer, Colonel Joshua B. Bowles, who built an estate east of town between 1817
and 1842, and named it “Clifton”. It is from the Bowles/Clifton
estate that the surrounding neighborhood derives its name. The Bowles estate
(demolished circa 1970) is believed to have been the only gentleman farm sited
in what is now the Clifton neighborhood. Other
gentleman farms outside of the proposed Clifton Local Historic Preservation
District but located close by in the eastern quadrant of Louisville include the
Colonial Revival style mansion of Chatsworth, built by manufacturer
Joshua B. Speed circa 1820 (demolished); Greek Revival style Selema Hall, built circa 1838 – 1842, by
David Hall a dry goods merchant; and finally, Beechland,
a Greek Revival style home built circa 1838 – 1842 for a steamboat captain
named Anders. Both Selema
Hall and Beechland have been individually listed in
the National Register.
are records of at least three truck farming families who owned land and had
homes in Clifton before 1860: The Rastetters, the Westermans
and the Raymonds.
Only one home has survived to the present day: the Thomas Rastetter
House. In 1843, Rastetter purchase a
fifteen-acre tract of land in Jefferson
County south of the Louisville and Shelbyville Turnpike.
The 1858 Bergmann map confirms its location between Frankfort Avenue and Payne Street. By 1859, Thomas Rastetter, along with son Joseph
Rastetter, were listed in city directories as
gardeners. Census records from 1860 indicate
typical ownership patterns common to Clifton. Thomas Rastetter
owned 15 acres of land valued at $4,600 as well as two horses, two dairy cows,
10 bushels of peas and beans, 250 bushels of potatoes, 50 bushels of sweet
potatoes, truck and garden produce valued at $600, and 100 pounds of
butter. The Rastetter House is the
oldest farm house still standing in Clifton. As originally
constructed, it faced the Louisville and Shelbyville Turnpike and had a deep setback to the
street. The Rastetter House is a two
story brick “I” house with five bays on both the primary and secondary
facades. Its most unusual feature is a
two-story wooden gallery, set between two brick end walls that runs the entire
length of the original rear of the house.
Unfortunately, all traces of the Rastetter House, which reflect
antebellum farmhouse building styles, have been compromised by extensive porch
additions on the Frankfort
facade. However, Victorian architectural
trends are still evident on its Payne Street façade. At some
point after 1884, the year Payne Street first appears on the City of Louisville Atlas, the main door to Rastetter house was re-oriented away
from the Louisville and Shelbyville Turnpike and instead faced Payne Street. In later years,
perhaps circa 1890, Victorian embellishments were added to the porch and even
later, circa 1960, the center bay of the gallery was in-filled with wooden
lapped siding. The house remained in the
Rastetter family until 1923.
the historic farms known to have been in the present Clifton neighborhood, including the Rastetter house, reflect
settlement patterns typical of the mid 1800s.
In each instance the houses were sited a great distance away from the
turnpike road, the primary means of access onto their property. This building placement differs from
subdivision patterns that would emerge in later years and would often
distinguish these earlier farm estates from the uniformity of later subdivision
Phase III: The Proliferation of
Industry, Subdivision of Land, and Residential Development
from the gentleman farms and truck farms that dotted Clifton’s countryside in the mid-1800s, very little planned
residential development had occurred.
However, industries were emerging toward the southern boundary of the Clifton neighborhood. The
employment opportunities these businesses provided had a profound impact on the
residential development in the area. Several naturally occurring features
contributed to the area’s industrial development. Entrepreneurs took advantage of the constant
water supply provided by the middle fork of the Beargrass
Creek for distilling spirits and for the slaughtering and processing of
meats, while the abundance of limestone attracted quarry men who slowly
carved away huge chunks of hillside.
Traces of the quarry industry are still visible, particularly in
the area’s southeastern quadrant, near present day Crescent Springs
Condominiums, along the Interstate 64 corridor, and along Brownsboro Road at Kenilworth Avenue (now the site of a strip shopping mall). The City Workhouse, destroyed by fire in
1968, was another notable remnant of quarrying activity located in the adjacent
Irish Hill neighborhood.
workers who found employment in these nearby slaughterhouses, quarries, and
distilleries were the logical target for the marketing pitches of land
speculators who geared their sales, and the prices of available homes, to these
working class employees during Clifton’s subdivision boom in the latter half of the nineteenth
century. Additionally, by the 1880s,
city provided services such as police and fire protection, schools, and the
availability of water, sewers and electricity, provided important amenities
that would enhance the quality of life for potential homebuyers.
Subdivision of Land
development occurred in the Clifton
neighborhood as early as the 1850s but it started out slowly. It wasn’t until after the Civil War that the
division of land and subsequent home building proliferated. Land subdivision in Clifton, following trends typical in Louisville, occurred first in the areas closest to the center
city. In Clifton this meant the area to the west developed before areas to
the east. The earliest residential
development patterns migrated along the two original 1830s turnpike roads: the Louisville and Shelbyville Pike and the Louisville and Brownsboro Pike. Payne Street, located south of these two turnpike road, was laid out
around 1880 (it first appears on the 1884 city atlas) almost fifty years after
these two turnpikes. Generally speaking,
the earliest houses built in Clifton were the most modest in scale. As time went on, the housing stock gradually
increased in size, scale, and durability.
Clifton is a product of development over a long time period and
reflects a diversity of architectural styles. Pockets of houses that are
obviously the result of rapid development by a single developer are
characterized by identically sized lots upon which were built houses of nearly
identical building size, scale, massing, and placement. Often, it is only signature details such as
sunburst designs or fish scale shingles that distinguish one house from
another. Wood is by far the most
prevalent building material but brick, stone, and stucco can be found in Clifton as well.
Annexation and the Formation of the Township of Clifton (mid to late
Clifton was sparsely settled by the mid 1800s, the City of Louisville sought to annex portions of it so it would fall under
municipal jurisdiction. Successful
annexation of the western tip of Clifton first occurred in 1856. Perhaps in reaction to this 1856 annexation
and borne out of a desire by the residents to remain autonomous, a group of
civic minded Clifton residents in 1876 petitioned the State Legislature
to grant a charter to the township of Clifton.
The population of Clifton at that time totaled 75 people. The 1856 annexation was
centered around the Bowles Estate/Clifton (near
the point where the turnpike and railroad intersected) and to the north, across
the Brownsboro Turnpike. Later annexations occurred in 1895, and 1897.
Construction of Institutions, Schools, and
population of Clifton increased so did the number of institutions, schools, and
churches. The Kentucky School for the
Blind (1853 and 1899), The Printing House for the Blind (1858 and
1883, with later additions), The Vernon Avenue School (1891 – 1919), Franklin
Elementary School (1892, 1966), the Hook and Ladder Company #3 (___-
____), The Sacred Heart Convalescent Home (1892), the German
Evangelical Church/Clifton Unitarian Church (circa 1900), and St.
Francis of Rome Catholic Church (1887 and 1910) and St. Francis of Rome
Catholic School (1930) are all located within the boundaries of the Clifton
Neighborhood. All were built in an
attempt to provide a positive educational, spiritual, and social atmosphere for
buildings in Clifton are, for the most part, sited along the Frankfort Avenue corridor. Frankfort Avenue was never exclusively commercial or residential. In its early years commercial and residential
development co-existed on Frankfort Avenue. Typical two-story
brick and frame buildings with commercial ground level storefronts topped by
storage or residential uses on the second floor were side-by-side with shotgun
Avenue was the
most traveled of all of Clifton’s transportation routes and thus was the most highly
visible to shopkeepers who attracted customers directly from the neighborhood
as well as those just passing through on the toll road. All commercial buildings in Clifton are of modest scale.
None exceeds two stories in height.
trend moved away from residential uses along Frankfort Avenue, circa 1910, many former homes were converted outright to
commercial uses with little or no change to the building’s main façade. In other instances, homes were altered at the
ground floor level with new storefronts, additions were constructed where the
front yard had been, or wholesale sheathing of all or part of the primary
façade with a new “commercial-looking” skin occurred. The dates of these changes run the gamut from
the late 1800s up to the present day.
Those that were constructed between 1830 and 1953 have achieved
significance because their architecture reflects historical changes in use and
design. Thus, these buildings contribute
to the district by showing the importance of Frankfort Avenue as a focus of commercial activity.
Clifton conveys a sense of historic transition in a way that few
other areas in Louisville can. Geographically
it sits between areas that developed earlier and later: Butchertown and Crescent Hill. The architecture of Clifton conveys the transition between the period
of development of Louisville’s large farms to the city’s more intensive industrial
developments of the late nineteenth century.
The ambience of this Victorian community is still evident in its diverse
architecture and unusual topography. It remains
as one of the most interesting of the working-to-middle class Victorian
neighborhoods in Louisville.
OF HISTORIC RESOURCES
Resources in Clifton are categorized as structures, sites, objects, and
as defined by the National Register of Historic Places, “…are a functional
construction made for purposes other than creating shelter, such as a
Clifton is home to five major transportation routes or structures all
of which have a roughly east/west orientation:
- The old Louisville and Shelbyville Turnpike
road (now Frankfort Avenue)
was laid out between 1818 and 1830. It runs along a
ridge top, forms the spine of the district, and has served Up to
the present as a conduit for a commercial and residential mix of
- Mixed-use buildings also historically flanked Brownsboro
Road, another nineteenth century
turnpike, but it is now almost exclusively late-twentieth century
commercial in character. Much of
its original historic character has been compromised.
- Payne Street
is south of Frankfort Avenue
and runs parallel to it. Historically it was the least traveled of these
east/west arteries. It has always been primarily residential in character.
- The Louisville
Railroad line, now owned by CSX, intersects Frankfort
Avenue. Its presence in the neighborhood,
beginning circa 1840, lured industries such as coal processing, stone
quarries, distilling, and manufacturing to Clifton, all of which had a
major impact on residential and commercial development patterns.
- Interstate 64, a mid-twentieth century
expressway, defines the southern boundary of the Clifton
streets intersect all of these major thoroughfares except I-64 in a pattern
roughly reflecting a grid. However, in a number of instances, secondary streets
are cut off by man-made barriers such as the railroad tracks of the CSX line
which are above grade in some parts or by natural barriers such as gullies,
ravines, cliffs and the like.
Standards Related to Structures Present
Based on the information
described above and detailed in the historic overview section, the following
major transportation resources within the Clifton Neighborhood contribute to
establishing the district’s sense of time and place: the Louisville and
Shelbyville Turnpike (now Frankfort Avenue), Brownsboro Road, Payne Street, and
the Louisville Frankfort Railroad (now CSX Railroad).
Natural Site Features
addition to the building types mentioned that establish the feeling of
association in the district, there are several natural features of note which
contribute to Clifton’s sense of time and place: natural rock formations,
gullies, ravines, cliffs and earth berms, and open
the Clifton neighborhood’s most character-defining features is its
unusual topography. The terrain ranges from sheer cliffs to the south created
by quarrying activities (and later by the Interstate 64 Expressway
cut-through), to deep ravines and sinkholes (the site of Angora Heights, Billy
Goat Hill and Fritz Whalen’s goat farm), to gently rolling hills (Albany
Street), steep inclines (Saunders Avenue), and substantial earth berms (Payne Street). These natural features affected how
nineteenth century builders and land subdividers
approached construction on a given plot of land. Since land reconfiguration was
impractical for real estate speculators during the period of significance they
made the most of these naturally occurring features by working around them.
Therefore, building placement in the Clifton Neighborhood is given a high
priority when evaluating integrity because it conveys the required historic
associations. Retention of natural
terrain is encouraged.
natural site of particular note is Billy Goat Hill. It is situated at the south
end of the district, in the 1700-1900 blocks of Payne Street, on high ground just above the cliffs adjacent to
Interstate-64. It was here that Fritz
Whalen grazed over 200 goats since before the turn of the century. Records as
far back as 1884 document this use, as do written accounts, most notably the
St. Frances of Rome 65th Anniversary Booklet, published in 1964.
This pastureland was historically characterized by an open meadow upon which
the goats roamed freely. According to
the Encyclopedia of Louisville,
“…to honor the goat farm owned by Ed Whalen, a subdivision
named Angora Heights was created [in Clifton] in the late nineteenth century. Feeling that the name was too highbrow for their neighborhood, the residents changed the
name to Billy Goat Hill. The goats,
largely unrestrained and free to roam the streets and climb the rocky cliffs,
inspired the street names of Angora Court, and Angora Avenue, along with the Billy Goat Hill Democratic Club [demolished
by Interstate 64 construction]. By the
mid-twentieth century, most of the goats had either fled the area or had been
shot by hunters. The street names are
the only reminders of the area’s origins.”
the Billy Goat Hill site was a public spring and the old Osborne estate
(demolished). Since 1892 a portion of the site has been owned as passive green
space by the Sacred Heart Home, an infirmary for the aged, and owned by the
Sisters of Charity. In as much as it retains its open meadow appearance, upon
which few new buildings have been constructed, it is deemed to contribute to
establishing a sense of Clifton’s very early agricultural character.
Made Site Features
made features contribute to Clifton’s sense
of time and place as well. Contributing
man made features include: quarries, brick streets and sidewalks, limestone
curbs, iron fences and stone walls, the “Chicken Steps”, a horse watering
trough, and a the hitching post.
mentioned previously there were several quarries in the Clifton vicinity. One of
the most notable was the Henry Bickle Quarry on the
site of present day Crescent Springs Condominiums. While quarrying was an important industry to
the neighborhood in that it provided jobs to area residents, none of the
quarries active in the late 1800s and early 1900s are currently used for their
original purpose. While the quarry walls
are still visible, many of the larger quarry tracts have been in-filled with
housing complexes, new industries, or commercial developments. Quarry walls, in as much as they contribute
to Clifton’s historic past, should be retained whenever possible, to reflect
past industrial activities of the area.
Sidewalks, Fences, Walls and Stairs
to the patina of the Clifton neighborhood is a variety of textures related to street
and sidewalk improvements and land ownership.
These include brick streets and sidewalks, limestone curbs, iron fences
and stone walls, and the Chicken Steps.
As the tiny enclave of Clifton was subdivided and developed, and later came under
municipal jurisdiction through annexations, the City of Louisville improved unpaved roadways by installing brick streets and
alleys. Limestone curbs defined the
edges of these roadways. In turn
property owners, in an attempt to enhance the appearance of their property and
to visually define public from private spaces installed iron fences and stone
walls around the perimeter of their property.
Materials used reflect not only the abundance of iron and stone in the Louisville area, but the taste and financial status of the individual
property owners. Original wooden fences
from the late nineteenth century have long since disappeared or been replaced
while many of the more durable (and expensive) iron and stone fences are still
visible in Clifton to this day. One of
the most unusual pedestrian accommodations to survive to the present day is the
so-called “Chicken Steps” located on the hillside north of Vernon Avenue. Neighborhood lore
points to these concrete steps as a type of sidewalk extension constructed to
enable pedestrians to more easily traverse the steep hillside from Vernon Avenue down toward Brownsboro Road. The name “Chicken
Steps” likely came about from the days when area residents raised chickens,
some of which chose this hilltop site upon which to roost. The date of installation of the steps is not
known, nor is the original construction material. The steps as they stand today are constructed
of formed concrete and are maintained by Louisville Metro government.
should be taken to retain historic site improvements such as brick streets and
sidewalks, limestone curbs, iron fences and stone walls, and the Chicken Steps.
Clifton is home to two
municipal parks: Clifton Park and Bingham Park. Clifton Park, a one acre park
at Arlington Avenue and Charleton Street, was created in
the late 1960s by a remnant of land left over from land acquisition for the
construction of Interstate 64 (the interstate was formally dedicated in
1970). It is a rectangularly shaped, relatively flat vest pocket
park with fixed playground equipment and passive recreational space. The famed Olmsted Brothers landscape firm
designed Bingham Park in 1915 with
money donated by the Robert Worth Bingham family. It is located at Brownsboro Road and Coral Avenue and comprises
four acres of land. Triangular in shape,
with steep hills on two of its three sides, it likely was deemed suitable only
for parkland because it was subject to episodic flooding and rainwater
washes. It too has fixed playground
equipment and passive recreational space.
Both parks are under the jurisdiction of the Louisville Metro Parks
Department. Proposed changes to land
contour, landscaping, placement of recreation equipment, or construction or
alterations to structures should be coordinated with the Louisville Metro Parks
Department and the Landmarks Commission.
Additionally, the Olmsted Conservancy and the Friends of Olmsted Parks
should be consulted if any changes are proposed to Bingham Park.
Structures are related to their
surrounding environment. Archeology
provides insights into an environment’s past uses, and occupants that are often
unobtainable through other forms of research. Archaeological investigations
conducted throughout the city in the past have yielded mixed results depending
on the level of disturbance present at each site. Successful investigations have occurred at
the following urban sites: the Point Neighborhood 15JF592- 15JF599 (Esarey
1992; McKelway 1995), the Portland Warf (## Jf ), the
Convention Center 15JF 646( Stottman 1995a), Highland Park 15JF607 (Stottman and Granger 1993), and the Russell Neighborhood
15JF 600-15JF 606 and 15JF624-15JF626
(McBride 1993;Stottman and Watts-Roy 1995). Investigations may involve survey,
excavation, incidental discovery and/or monitoring of activities taking place
at a site.
have not yet been conducted in the Clifton neighborhood. The neighborhood’s first extant structure
was built in1830, and construction continued beyond 1953, the end date for the
period of significance. In between there
were numerous constructions and reconstructions in the area that may have
disturbed the historical context.
Archeology can be an effective tool in revealing information on the
location of demolished buildings, privies, wells, cisterns, foundations,
walkways, fences, and trash pits. It can
be a valuable tool in the research of the suggested areas of future study, and
provide additional direct knowledge into the transitional periods of Clifton’s development. Archaeological remains should be considered
in any development of this property. If,
in the course of work, it becomes evident that the site might reveal archaeological
information, it is recommended that work cease and the appropriate KHC staff be
Street objects reflecting the pre-automobile, horse
and buggy era are rare objects citywide.
The Clifton neighborhood has
two such artifacts: a horse watering trough at 2036 Frankfort
Avenue and a horse hitching post at 2212 Payne
Street. The watering
trough, a simple iron post topped by a round iron water basin embedded in the
sidewalk, was strategically located in front of Liebert’s
Clifton Market, a mercantile store and saloon.
Here a horse could quench his thirst outside after a long journey, while
his rider could quench his thirst inside the saloon. The horse hitching post, consisting of a
simple iron post embedded in the sidewalk and topped by a ring, was used to tie
up horses. Both the horse-watering
trough and the hitching post are rare and irreplaceable treasures of the late
nineteenth century and should be retained.
types in Clifton can be grouped into
five primary categories: residential, commercial, industrial, institutional and
1. Residential Buildings
Residential structures are by
far the most prevalent of Clifton’s building types. The earliest residences were constructed
in the 1800s as farmhouses or rural retreats for the wealthy and thus pre-date
any formal grid street pattern, setback, or subdivision. Houses constructed in
later years (circa 1870 to 1930) conform to land plats drawn at the time the
subdivisions were laid out and thus share consistent lot size, building type
and style, setback, massing, and materials with adjacent houses constructed by
the subdivision developer or developers during the period of greatest
expansion. Residential buildings can be found on all major and minor streets in
Clifton. Their character as far as scale, type, setback and
orientation all reflect their date of construction and subdivision patterns (or
lack thereof) at the time of construction.
The Clifton neighborhood developed slowly in its early years. The
first houses were built on gentleman farms like the Bowles Estate/Clifton
constructed between 1817 and 1842 near present day Vernon Avenue and Sycamore
Streets (demolished) and the Rastetter House (JFEG 704), built circa
1843-58 for Joseph Rastetter, a truck farmer.
The formation of the Louisville and
Shelbyville Turnpike Company in 1818 and the later construction of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad circa 1840 made this area east of
the city accessible and eventually led to more intense development in the years
after the Civil War.
2. Commercial Buildings
buildings in Clifton, the earliest of which dates to circa 1830, run the
spectrum of commercial architectural types and styles popular between the years
1830 to 1953. The earliest structures that have survived to the present day are
brick and date from the early to mid-1800’s. The
oldest frame commercial buildings date from about the 1880s. Commercial
structures in the district built before the 1920s have very shallow setbacks
from the street. This placement allowed for maximum visibility to passersby
traveling at pre-auto speeds. Starting in the 1920s that setback pattern
changed as the increased popularity of the automobile affected building
patterns. From the 1920s until the 1940s, and continuing to the present day,
buildings have deep street setbacks to allow for “front yard parking”. In
instances where an older commercial building had a zero street setback,
business owners would either rely on street parking for their customers or
would demolish existing adjacent buildings and pave the site to accommodate
automobiles. This accounts for the presence of parking lots in the district and
displays the evolution of the Frankfort Avenue corridor from a pedestrian-oriented street to an
automobile-oriented corridor. Commercial buildings located in the district are
categorized by their dates of construction and/or alteration (ie. pre-1900 commercial buildings, post-1900 commercial
building, and pre-1900 commercial building with post-1900 additions to their
Building materials and building
styles of commercial structures in Clifton followed popular trends both locally and nationally; most
were vernacular in nature. In other words, few high style, architect designed
commercial buildings were constructed in the Clifton neighborhood. Most were owner or contractors built and,
thus, were quite simple in design and articulation. As new building materials
and styles become popular, these materials were used when new commercial
buildings were constructed. Often, overlays of new materials were applied to
older structures in an attempt to create a more contemporary appearance. Such
is the case in instances where glass block, structural tile, and Carrara glass were employed. An example of this treatment is
visible at Clifton’s Pizza Company (2226-2230 Frankfort Avenue) where Carrara glass was used circa 1930 to update a circa 1900 building.
In other instances, previously constructed commercial structures on a given
site were simply ignored as new commercial structures were built in front of,
or attached to, previously constructed buildings. This method was used at 2341 Frankfort Avenue where a late nineteenth century residence has a circa 1940
3. Industrial Buildings
Industrial buildings in Clifton historically were constructed of brick, were sited close
enough to the Louisville and Frankfort Railroad to facilitate shipping of raw and
finished material, and were generally one to five stories in height. Most were
modest in design and lacked significant architectural detail or fenestration,
especially those industrial concerns that were visible only from the railroad
tracks. Those that were sited on Frankfort Avenue (most notably the now demolished late nineteenth century, Richardsonian Romanesque style Mellwood
Distillery) generally had a higher degree of design detail. For an
industrial building in the Clifton Historic District to have integrity it must
be sited by the railroad, tracks or close enough to the rail lines for the easy
transportation of goods, the building or group of buildings must have been
built before 1953, and it must retain enough architectural and historic
integrity to convey that it is a product of the years 1830 to 1953, the period of
significance upon which this Local Landmark designation is based. The existing
National Register District has several industrial concerns: The American
Printing House for the Blind (manufacturers of large print and Braille
literature), Recordings for the Blind (talking books and taped
recordings), and the Industries for the Blind (brooms and handicrafts).
Their presence in the neighborhood dates to the mid and late 1800s. Historically and architecturally contributing
buildings still extant in the district include the former Industries for the
Blind building at Frankfort and Bellaire Avenues and the Louisville Gas and Electric
sub-station at on Bellaire
Payne and East Main Streets.
4. Institutional and Ecclesiastical Buildings
The proliferation of subdivision
development in Clifton and the people that were housed in the neighborhood soon
brought both churches and institutions to the area.
The most notable institution is
the Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB), a state-supported grade and high
school for the visually impaired. It is one of three extant school buildings
sited in the Clifton Neighborhood. Elias
E. Williams (and not by architect Francis Costigan, a
previous attribution) designed KSB. It
was constructed in 1855 and was razed in 1967. The Colored School for the
Blind was constructed in 1886 based on plans by local architect Charles J.
Clarke and demolished in 19__. The Sacred
Heart Home, built in 1892 as a home for the aged and infirmed, and
originally operated by the Sisters of Mercy, and the St. Frances of Rome
School built in 1930, and designed by Thomas Nolan are also noteworthy
Churches in the neighborhood
include: the St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church (1887); the German
Evangelical/Clifton Unitarian Church (circa 1900); James Lees
Presbyterian Church (1914), Third Lutheran Church (1931); Clifton
Baptist Church (1923, 1934); Clifton Christian Church (1891, 1972)
and the Beargrass Baptist Church (built
circa 1900, demolished and replaced in 1966).
All but Beargrass Baptist are housed in
buildings that historically and architecturally contribute to the district.
All of the institutional and
ecclesiastical buildings constructed in Clifton during the 1830 to 1953 period of significance exhibit high
style architectural characteristics. Although assignment of an architect to
each individual building is difficult because of the lack of available
historical accounts and records, the degree of sophistication of each building
design suggests each was conceived by an architect, or at the very least, a
well schooled contractor-builder with access to architectural books.
Institutional and ecclesiastical buildings in Clifton are generally formal in
appearance (well balanced and/or symmetrical), of solid masonry construction,
although some were of frame construction, stand one to three stories in height,
exhibit some level of sophistication in detail, and were constructed before
1953. Both the St. Frances of Rome School (Italian Renaissance Revival
in style and designed by local architect Thomas Nolan) and the St. Frances
of Rome church (Gothic
Revival in style, architect unknown) fit these criteria as does Clifton
Unitarian Church (Gothic Revival in style, architect if any, unknown).
There is one non-contributing institution in Clifton: the Sacred Heart Home. It does not meet the
integrity standards established for the district. Portions of the 1892 Sacred
Heart Home still stand but have been totally enveloped by mid-twentieth
century additions that obscure the original building.
Evaluation of Historic and
Evaluation of the architectural
integrity for buildings in the Clifton Neighborhood is based on the overall
historical character of the district. The
basis for decision-making with regards to historic and architectural integrity
are based on the National Register of Historic Places integrity standards which
building’s contribution to the district has been evaluated in relation to the
relevant context and integrity standards for the larger district. The following
integrity guidelines establish which factors are most important in showing the
district’s and individual property’s importance. They should be used as the
basis for decision-making with regard to future renovation and restoration
projects (including Investment Tax Credit Rehabilitation projects) or for other
federally funded renovation or rehabilitation projects that impact historic
establishing integrity standards for buildings in the Clifton Local Landmark
District, a strong emphasis must be placed on the historic evolution of the
neighborhood and how it represents the broad patterns of Clifton’s past within
the context of community planning and development over the years. Therefore,
evaluation of the individual architectural characteristics of each building in
the district is most effectively conveyed by the following basic design
elements: overall scale and massing; street setback; orientation to the street
conveyed by building placement, and rhythm; and texture and the relationships
of solids and voids to the overall appearance of building in the district.
preferable that each building in the district be sited in its original location
and be an intact building unit as originally constructed (ie: no major demolition of all or part of the
front or rear facades) in as much as this aids in establishing the context and
boundaries for the district. However, retention of the building or structure on
the original location, while preferable is not mandatory. Those wishing to move
an historic building should consult with the Landmarks Commission and other appropriate
local and state historic preservation professionals well in advance of any
anticipated move in order to ensure National Register eligibility after the
move has taken place. There are no
buildings in this proposed district expansion that have been evaluated as
contributing that have been moved.
Materials and Workmanship
Residential buildings in Clifton
range in height from one to three stories. The basic building types present in
the district convey distinct characteristics of scale and massing: the area’s
shotgun houses are three to four times as deep as they are wide which makes for
very narrow buildings (both in the single story and camelback examples): the
American Four Square houses are four cell, two-story structures which often
times have roof or wall dormers; and the bungalow plans are one or two-story
houses that have widely projecting eaves and cornices and truncated elements
such as columns and porches that give a sprawling horizontal emphasis to these
buildings. Residential building styles in Clifton include the Federal,
Italianate, Queen Anne, Princess Anne, Tudor Gothic and Bungalow Craftsman,
each of which conveys a distinct scale and massing as identifying features of
their respective designs. All except the
Federal, Bungalow, and occasionally the Italianate style examples, have
asymmetrical massing. The basic design
forms as outlined above should be retained for a building to be considered a
contributing element to the Clifton Historic District.
Orientation To the Street, and Rhythm
buildings in Clifton in most instances are set back a substantial distance from
the street they face. This allows for a
front yard between the house and the sidewalk and street it faces. Numerous blocks with this consistent
configuration convey a sense of unity and continuity that is the result of
concentrated development during the period of significance established for the
district. The rhythm created by this
consistency of building placement in each block is, for the most part, not
varied even when a mixture of building styles is present in a given block. Thus, the entire range of building styles
outlined above still effectively conveys the sense of community planning and
development. The relationships
characterized by buildings of this period convey the proper associations for
buildings to contribute to the Clifton Local Landmark District. In instances
when a building interrupts the established pattern, that building may be
assigned a non-contributing status.
and the Relationship of Solids to Voids
given block face in the Clifton Historic District a pattern can be identified
by each building’s basic components (doors, windows, rooflines, chimneys,
porches, steps and the like) and by the building materials present. Their consistency from street to street forms
an easily identifiable pattern that should be present for a building to
contribute to Clifton’s sense of time, place, and the required historic
associations. Parking lots, or vacant
lots that historically do not pre-date 1953, and contemporary construction
(1953 and after) have a great impact on the overall character of the
district. Therefore, these deviations
from the norm may be considered non-contributing for the purpose of this
Commercial and Industrial Architectural Styles
late Victorian and early twentieth century building styles such as Federal,
Italianate, Queen Anne, Princess Anne, Tudor/Gothic, Bungalow as well as vernacular
building types are present in the neighborhood.
In the instances where an identifiable historic style is present, its
characteristics should be retained whenever possible, because it contributes to
the overall character of the neighborhood.
primary facades of commercial buildings in the Clifton Local Landmarks District
should, at the ground level, exhibit their original configuration and historic
fabric, including entrances, commercial display windows and transoms, and structural
elements such as load bearing brick walls.
Wholesale replacement and/or sheathing of the original ground level
storefront in a non-historic manner, while not particularly desirable, is
acceptable if the alterations are easily distinguished from the original
storefront (i.e. windows in-filled) and if the majority of the upper stories of
the façade retain integrity. Above the
ground level on the upper floors of the facade, each building must retain its
original window placement and light configuration. Changes in light configuration or obstruction
of windows, while not desirable, is acceptable if the change is easily
identifiable and retains intact window surrounds including sill, fascia,
lintels, hoods, pediment, and other decorative details. Infill of the windows is acceptable only if
this treatment is recessed so that it is easily distinguished from the
original. Decorative parapets should remain intact although enveloping them in
a non-historic material is acceptable if non-historic material duplicates
historic ornamentation from the same time period or if the historic fabric
remains intact under the added non-historic fabric. Although the secondary facades and especially
the rear alley facades will not be subject to the same standard as the primary
facades, their design, workmanship, and materials are recognized to be
important in assessing significance and should be honored. In those instances when later additions have
been made to an earlier commercial building, those later additions shall be
evaluated for their integrity as it relates to the larger period of
significance, established for the district (up to 1953). In some instances, these later additions may
have achieved significance in their own right.
Building additions will result in an assignment of non-contributing if
the addition was made after 1953 and it obscures more than half of the historic
primary façade of the building.
Building placement and
conditions specified under the integrity discussion of design, workmanship, and
materials, will communicate the required feeling and association of an historic
district from the defined period.
for Future Study: African-Americans in Clifton
the recorded history of Clifton indicates that whites of European ancestry have
historically occupied the Clifton community, there are indications that a small
number of African Americans historically lived and worked in Clifton. While the number of this ethnic group formed
a small minority and records of their settlement patterns, occupations, and
social affiliations are scant when compared to their white counterparts, their
presence in Clifton is significant and warrants additional study. Topics that
might be examined included study of census records from the antebellum period
which would indicate slave ownership; the social and religious affiliations
between area residents and the predominantly black Beargrass
Baptist Church; the relationship between industries and residential settlement
patterns; the influence of W.A. Brown, a Negro physician in the 1700 block of
the Frankfort Avenue; the “Negro Shanties” that once stood adjacent to the Mellwood Distillery in the 1700 block of Frankfort; the
presence of the Colored Department of the School for the Blind on the campus of
the Kentucky School for the Blind from 1886 up to court ordered desegregation;
and the overt or subtle social factors that lead to tiny enclaves of blacks
residing in several concentrated areas of Clifton (specifically on Jane Street
and in the 1700 Block of Frankfort Avenue).
While the number of blacks in the Clifton area historically and
contemporarily is quite small, the study of this ethnic group, their patterns
and histories, has long been over looked.
Print Sources Consulted
Directory of the City of Louisville.
Louisville: Caron Directory Company, 1884-1992.
Clifton Community Council Archives.
Heiman, Lee. “The Great Turnpike
Turnabout.” The Courier Journal,
Louisville Historic Landmarks and Preservation
Commission. National Register File. Louisville, 1974-1992.
_________________. Louisville Survey East Report. Louisville:
Louisville Community Development Cabinet, 1979.
“The Passing of the Tollgate.” The Courier Journal. February
17, 1901, pp.3
St. Frances of Rome Parish: Story of Seventy Five-Years (1887-1962). Louisville: circa 1962.
W., Crescent Hill Revisited. Louisville: George Rogers Clark Press, Inc.
Yater, George H. Two Hundred Years at the Falls of the
Ohio: A History of Louisville and Jefferson County. Louisville: Heritage Corporation of Louisville and
Jefferson County, 1979.
Archaeology Sources Consulted
Esarey, Mark E.
Phase I Cultural Resource survey of Twelve City Block in
the 50-Acre Municipal Harbor/ Thurston Park Section of the Proposed Waterfront
Redevelopment Project, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. Archaeological Report 275. Program for Cultural Resources
Assessment, University of Kentucky, Lexington.
McBride, W. Stephen
Test Excavations at Ten Sites in the Russell Neighborhood, Louisville, Kentucky. Archeological Report 362. Program for Cultural Resources Assessment,
University of Kentucky, Lexington.
McKelway, Henry S.
Historic and Prehistoric Archaeology at Falls Harbor,
Jefferson County, Kentucky. Contract
Publication Series 95-63. Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc. Lexington, Kentucky.
Stottman, M. Jay
Phase I/II Testing at the Site of the New Louisville
Convention Center, Jefferson County, and Kentucky. Kentucky
Archaeological Survey, Lexington.
Stottman, M. Jay and Joseph E. Granger
The Archaeology of Louisville’s Highland Park Neighborhood:
Jefferson County Kentucky. Archaeological
Resources Consultant Services. Louisville, Kentucky.
Stottman, M. Jay and Jeffrey L. Watts-Roy
Archaeology in Louisville’s Russell Neighborhood, Jefferson
County Kentucky. Archaeological Resources
Consultant Services. Louisville, Kentucky.
design/landmarks/Clifton district designation/designation report to Metro