The Old Louisville neighborhood is home to the third largest historic preservation district in the United States and the largest of such featuring solely Victorian homes. Though the neighborhood once saw a fierce decline in care and interest, its recent gentrification has made it one of the most desirable places to live in Louisville, especially among college students and young professionals.
Old Louisville History
By the late 1800s, Old Louisville had become the most popular district among the wealthy who were building Victorian-style mansions all along the neighborhood’s streets. Eventually, however, the mansions were abandoned because of the high number of servants that were required in order to maintain them. In the early 1900s, many of the mansions were transformed into boarding houses, and more were converted into apartments during World War II. Today, many of the Victorian homes that line Old Louisville’s streets are still kept as apartments, appealing to the high number of college students in the area, but there is a renewed interest in restoring the buildings. Some are returning the mansions to single homes.
What Are the Boundaries of the Old Louisville Neighborhood
The Old Louisville neighborhood encompasses 48 blocks located south of Kentucky Street, north of Avery Street, west of I-65, and east of the CSX railroad tracks.
Old Louisville Demographics
Old Louisville is home to a large number of college students. Old Louisville is just north of the University of Louisville and just south of Spalding University. Parts of Old Louisville is also a very crowded district due to its high number of apartments and low number of single-family homes, but desirable areas of the neighborhood, especially the walking courts, are being renewed.
Nightlife in Old Louisville
Due to its large college population, Old Louisville's nightlife scene is one of the most prominent in Louisville. Some of Old Louisville's most popular bars include:
- The Rudyard Kipling - One of the most popular hangouts among the city's artistic individuals. There is often live music and food is available for purchase, even healthy options like hummus."The Rud," as it is affectionately called is located at 422 W Oak St.
- Magnolia Bar and Grill - A hole-in-the-wall type establishment that is popular among college students and rockers. It is one of the Top 5 Dive Bars in Louisville. "The Mag Bar" is located at 1398 S 2nd St. But don't let the name fool you, this isn't a restaurant. Thankfully, pizza is available by the slice next door if you get hungry.
- Granville Inn Bar and Grill - A major nighttime hangout among students of the University of Louisville and sports fans. The staff is friendly and the food is fried. Granville is at 1601 S 3rd St.
While the architecture is the main attraction in Old Louisville, the neighborhood is home to the third largest historic preservation district in the U.S., there are also popular festivals and locations drawing residents from other areas to the neighborhood:
- St. James Court Art Show - One of Louisville's largest festivals where nearly 1000 artists gather in St. James Court to sell and display their pieces. People attend every year to shop, eat, and socialize.
- Kentucky Shakespeare Festival - A showcase of Shakespeare's plays in Central Park held annually in summer.
- The Filson Historical Society - A historic preservation museum that collects historical manuscripts, photographs, art, and artifacts that are relevant to the area.
Old Louisville is home to one of the best high schools in the nation as well as many other well-known schools. Some of the most popular are:
- DuPont Manual High School - Local high school that is consistently ranked among the top high schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
- Presentation Academy - One of the oldest, all-female Catholic high schools in the state.
- Spalding University - One of Louisville's two major four-year Catholic universities.
- University of Louisville - The University of Louisville offers Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral degree programs and is possibly best known for its research department and athletics.
Note: Jessica Elliott's article was updated by a current expert in June, 2016.