Jane's Walk is a global movement of citizen led walking tours. The tours focus on the legacy of Jane Jacobs by getting neighbors to tell stories about their communities, explore their cities, and connect with each other. The University of Louisville's Planning Student Organization recently hosted a Jane's Walk in Portland, which was led by Brenda Duffey. The tour started off at the Portland Library and some highlights from it are below.
The Portland Branch Library is a Carnegie Library built in the Beaux-Arts style. Built in 1912, it is the third oldest branch in the Louisville Free Public Library system. The two older branches are Crescent Hill and Western built in 1908. During the 1937 flood, the Red Cross set up a first aid relief center for flood refugees at the library.
At the end of the 20th Century, there was the threat of closing the library due to lack of accessibility. A campaign to save the library resulted in adding a side entrance that is handicap accessible. Today the library hosts the Lincoln Foundation Portland Reading Program, Computer Learning Lab, and is a "safe place" for children.
The Squire Earick House is believed to be the oldest wooden house in Jefferson County and the oldest known structure in Portland still standing. Lewis Shipman built the house in 1819. It is a heavy timber frame structure in the federal styles similar to My Old Kentucky Home. The Portland Museum is researching and restoring this important landmark.
As the city of Portland developed almost every corner had a store. The corner stores were well designed with big windows and doors to attract customers. The upper floors contained the family living quarters. The wide streets around the building are to allow horse and buggies to be able to turn around. Thomas Bannon commissioned the building of this store in 1888. Today, the building is divided into eight apartments.
The red box indicates the marker for the 1937 high water flood level.
The Church of Our Lady, or "Notre Dame du Port", was founded in 1839 by one of America's first priests, Father Stephen Theodore Badin. The earliest congregation was mostly French immigrants — the earliest citizens of Portland. After a fire destroyed much of the building, the current church was rebuilt in 1873. During the Great Flood of 1937, twenty-two feet of water stood in the building and the entire floor collapsed into the basement. It has been renamed twice since then. The first time was to the Church of our Lady's and in recent years, the Church of the Good Shepherd.
The Sisters of Loretto founded Cedar Grove in 1842. The school was named Mt. St. Benedict Academy but people called it Cedar Grove because of the trees around the site. A low wall surrounded the campus where the Sisters maintained gardens, grape arbors and large buildings. The school closed in 1925 and now the largest building has been converted into Cedar Grove Apartments.
The historic Portland Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Louisville with over 7,000 graves. The cemetery, opened in the 1830s, had separate sections for Catholics and Protestants. Many markers attest to the variety of nationalities in Louisville at the time – French, Irish, German and Italian. Mary Millicent Miller, the first female to acquire a steamboat master's license in 1884, is buried here. At the edge of the cemetery sits the site where Buchanan v. Warley took place. This case is where the U.S. Supreme Court declared Louisville's racial zoning, which sought to separate neighborhoods by race, unconstitutional.
Northwestern Parkway is part of a 26-mile system designed by Frederick Olmsted. The tree lined parkway and variety of housing structures provides strong visual interest. You can't help but to be taken aback by the beauty of Portland as you walk through the neighborhood.