Thanks to everyone who braved the cold but beautiful day on Saturday to join us for another Society of Urban Perambulator event, this time in the historic Butchertown Neighborhood. Special thanks to our Butchertown field guides, Andy Blieden and Gregg Rochman, as well as Bruce of Vernon Lanes and Kate of the Butcher Rose.
Given the initial freezing temperatures, we had a surprisingly good turnout of about 28 people. To kick the event off, the urban perambulators all met up at Cultured on Main Street to grab a quick espresso and soak up some heat in their very comfortable and accommodating space. Andy gave a little background on the Butcher Block development which included a number of dilapidated shotgun and other houses, which included the Cultured building. He likened the Butcher Block to his version of an urban strip center, with a good mix of different retail and commercial operators along a busy street. He likened Butchertown Market, that we would visit later in the tour, as his version of an urban shopping mall.
The Butchertown Bustle route was essentially a little more than a 2 mile loop. We did end up cutting out stopping by the new Main and Campbell development due to scheduling conflicts with our contact and will work that into a future SoUP event that covers NuLu and Phoenix Hill.
From Cultured we walked up Wenzel, passing Branden Klayko Alley and Ginny Reichard Park. The park is only .22 acres, but it represents an important aspect of urban neighborhoods, the access to pocket parks and greenspaces. The Urban Design Studio is exploring ways to dramatically increase greening downtown and adjacent areas, and small pocket parks like Ginny Reichard Park are great examples of how we can intentionally carve out small pieces of the city to improve access to nature and offer more places for solice and play.
The history of why the floodwall was run down the middle of Quincy Street is foggy, but there are a few speculations. One, their was some mention of it being an economic decision back in the 1952, which could mean that instead of purchasing private land to run the wall behind houses on Quincy that perhaps it was cheaper and more expediant to just run the wall in the middle of public right of way. Another idea is that it simply was where the surveyor decided, based on the lay of the land, that it should go. In any case, it is a pretty bizarre scene where houses on the north and south side of Quincy Street face a floodwall when once they could see their neighborhoods across the street. Thanks to Tom Owen for some background info on the topic.
We headed east on Story Avenue and traversed the gauntlet that is the I-64 on- and off-ramps. Truly a hazardous interface between pedestrian and motorist, particularly at the on-ramp. Vehicles approaching, from Frankfort Avenue and Brownsboro Road via the one-way Story Avenue, are typically accelerating before they reach the on-ramp in anticipation of the short merge distance to come.
Bruce, the General Manager of Vernon Lanes met with the group to talk about the recent renovations of the bowling alley and downstairs bar as well as ongoing remodeling of three upstairs units into residential rental spaces. Along with some of the interesting details was opening up the historic windows along the lanes, covered for decades. The natural light pouring in is a welcome change to typical bowling alley design.
We got a special, and unexpected, behind the scenes tour of the back of the alley to see the pin setting machines in action.
Kate, Butcher Rose's live-in caretaker, gave the group a tour of the more than 200 year old building and the new ladies first social club and modern Bed & Breakfast. The Butcher Rose offers five bedroom accommodations along with a unique venue for social events and gatherings.
We ventured across the street from the Butcher Rose to Hadley Pottery. Gregg Rochman gave the group a tour of the grounds which were just recently purchased to save the historic stoneware operation and breath new life into a prominent location in Butchertown and the city.
On the final leg of the perambulation, we stopped by Butchertown Market and heard from Andy about the interesting history of the building as well as the eclectic mix of tenants in the sprawling complex.
As always, we try to start our tours at a local place to get some coffee and end with a local bar or restaurant to wind down from the walk and continue the conversation about what was learned from the trip. The main goal of the Society of Urban Perambulators is to get folks who love cities out into different neighborhoods around Louisville to learn more about those areas with and from the people who live and work there. Together we can build networks of people trying to improve different parts of the city and learn from each other along the way.
Looking forward to future SoUP events. If you have ideas for walking routes, please email Patrick Piuma.