Old Louisville: America's Victorian Neighborhood

Fans of Victorian architecture, don't miss a visit to Old Louisville in Kentucky.
By: Robin Garr
Related To:

Old Louisville is one of the largest preserved districts of Victorian architecture in the United States. The neighborhood extends more than a mile south from downtown to the University of Louisville's Belknap Campus and contains three distinct National Register Districts. Most of its classic homes are brick, many of them in the Romanesque, Queen Anne, Italianate and Craftsman architectural styles, and the neighborhood boasts the highest concentration of residential homes with stained-glass windows in the U.S.

Old Louisville came into existence in the 1870s as "the Southern Extension," one of the city's first suburbs. As many as 260 homes were built between 1883 and 1886 to house the city's wealthiest families. This flurry of building activity was associated with the city's role as host of the Southern Exposition. Much like a World's Fair, the Exposition featured the first public display of Thomas Edison's light bulb in what was billed as the largest artificial lighting display in history, with 4,600 lamps briefly turning the Victorian-era Louisville neighborhood's night into day.

At its peak in the late 1800s, Old Louisville was the center of the city's social life. Its Central Park was a 17-acre patch named not for the New York landmark but for the Central Street Railway line that brought people out from town to the park land. In that day, the prominent Dumesnil family's botanical gardens, just west of Central Park, displayed rows of rare and ornamental shrubs and flowers.

Forty years later the area was in decline, the grand mansions broken up into apartments and rooming houses for immigrants and the poor. In the 1960s the city began revitalization efforts with the help of Federal Community Development dollars and the neighborhood regained some of its former glory. Central Park is again a place for urban relaxation, picnics, weddings and weekend concerts. Since 1960, the park has been home to the summer tradition of free theater formerly called Shakespeare in Central Park and today known as the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. Floral Terrace, the former botanical garden, is one of the quiet residential oases that can be found within the neighborhood.

Next Up

Brookhaven, GA: What It's Like to Live Here

This affluent Atlanta suburb may be a new city, but you can still find beautiful historic homes.

Grant Park, GA: What It's Like to Live Here

This historic neighborhood reflects the beauty and character of its namesake park.

Brookhaven, GA: Apartments and Real Estate

Known for its beautiful mansions, Brookhaven also offers family homes, townhomes and apartments in more modest price ranges.

6 Great Neighborhoods in Nashville

Explore neighborhoods in and around Nashville, Tennessee.

Vinings, GA: Apartments and Real Estate

From small condos to mansions, this Atlanta suburb offers a range of housing options.

Inman Park, Atlanta: What It's Like to Live Here

The Inman Park neighborhood captures the beauty of a Victorian past.

Cabbagetown Apartments and Real Estate

Trendy lofts and condos are emerging from this Atlanta neighborhood's renaissance.

5 Great Neighborhoods in Sarasota

Get to know these sought-after communities on the west coast of Florida.

5 Great Neighborhoods in Orlando

North, south, east, west—all directions point to intriguing neighborhoods in Orlando. Take a tour with Great American Country.

Things to do in Norcross, GA

You'll find no shortage of things to do in this Atlanta suburb.

On TV

Lakefront Bargain Hunt

10:30am | 9:30c

Lakefront Bargain Hunt

11:30am | 10:30c

Lakefront Bargain Hunt

12:30pm | 11:30c

Lakefront Bargain Hunt

1:30pm | 12:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Lakefront Bargain Hunt

8pm | 7c

Lakefront Bargain Hunt

10:30pm | 9:30c

Lakefront Bargain Hunt

11:30pm | 10:30c

Lakefront Bargain Hunt

12:30am | 11:30c

Lakefront Bargain Hunt

1:30am | 12:30c

Top GAC Shows

Flea Market Flip

Sundays at 8|7c

Living Alaska

Mondays at 9|8c

Top 20 Countdown

Consult Program Guide

Flippin' RVs

Wednesdays 9|8c

Get Social With Us

Let's explore this country together.