First, I want to thank everyone who joined us Saturday for the SoUP event. We had over 60 people turn out, coming from more than 26 different neighborhoods across the city as well as from as far away as Indianapolis. Special thanks to our Field Guides on this tour: Kathryn Curtis, John Gonder, Terry & Rachel Zink, Stephen Kertis, Nate Hammitt, Kyle Jahn, and Jody Dahmer.

The Society of Urban Perambulators was created to get people out to explore different parts of our community, hearing about these places from the people who live, work, and/or are trying to improve their corner of the city, all while getting a bit of exercise and meeting new people along the way.

Logan Street Market

Fueling up with some Safai Coffee at Logan Street Market before the perambulation

We always try to meet up at a local business to get some caffeine or other late morning beverage, so we stopped at Safai’s Coffee in the Logan Street Market. Supporting the local shops in the neighborhoods we explore is an important component to SoUP events.

The public market is one of the first in the city in a long time with a host of local vendors that creates a community meeting place, hosts events, has multiple food options and a bar.

We try to end our events at a local bar to provide a place for participants to continue the conversations with new and familiar faces, so during this event the tour loops back to Logan Street Market. Though I knew a lot of people were planning on joining us, I hadn’t realized that we were going to potentially overrun the space. I'll have to keep that in mind for future events.

Kicked of the walk outside Logan Street Market with an overview of the route (Photo by Chris Harrell)
SoUP Route Map

As we headed out, I brought the large group just outside the market to give a quick rundown of the route we were about to take and talk a little bit about SoUP for many of the new folks in the crowd.

1131 Logan Street

Kathryn tells the group about the plans for 1131 Logan Street (Photo by Chris Harrell)
SoUPers checking out 1131 Logan Street

The first stop on the walk was about a half-block from Logan Street Market at 1131 Logan Street, a former dry goods store built in 1879 that was most recently renovated 20-30 years ago for office use. Kathryn Curtis of WorK Architecture + Design was our Field Guide for this project, explaining that the building has been stripped back to its bones, including removing the exterior stucco, restoring third floor windows, a few fireplaces, first floor glass storefront, and decades of history. In its new life, it will showcase an art gallery on the first floor with an adjacent landscaped courtyard, as well as new open offices on the second and third floors with a second floor rooftop deck.

Steve Magre Alley

Walking along Steve Magre Alley
Left: Water tower in Germantown along Kentucky Street, Right: Water tower in Memphis

We walked along Steve Magre Alley beside the railroad tracks to avoid overwhelming people on the sidewalk in front of Logan Street Market, and to get a different view of the industrial nature of the area. Though not part of the tour, I've always loved the water town on a building next to Hope Mills. It always reminds me of a great trip I had to Memphis with my good friend Tommy Pacello touring me around his city. We checked out a revitalizing area called Broad Avenue Arts District where the water tower became a sculptural icon and beacon. I've always thought whoever takes over the building should do something similar in Germantown.

Hope Worsted Mills

Hope Worsted Mills (Photo by Ramona Vasta)
Steve Gonder gives a little history on Hope Worsted Mills

Around the corner from the Logan Street Market on Kentucky Avenue is one of several historic mills in Germantown that took advantage of the access to rail lines in the area to move goods. Our next Field Guide and owner of Hope Worsted Mills, John Gonder, talked a bit about the history of the building and some of the current uses of the main floor, including Kore Gallery and Booker Design Collaborative as well as many artists and others who have studio spaces throughout the massive building.

Kore Gallery in Hope Mills

During the tour we had a chance to stop by Kore Gallery's 5700 sq/foot exhibit space and see the art currently on display and hear a bit about the gallery.

Second floor of Hope Worsted Mills
Indoor pickleball court

Each of Hope Worsted Mills floor plates span more than 32,000 sq/ft. The enormity of the space doesn't truly become clear until you walk up to the second floor where a majority of the space is completely open with immense windows flooding the room with light. The windows offer amazing views of the city and the beautiful surrounding residential neighborhood. The tall ceilings and wide open room accommodates basketball and pickleball, barely scratching the surface of usable space.

Beargrass Creek 01

Channelized section of Beargrass Creek along Swan Street (Photo by Chris Harrell)

Though mostly hidden from view, the South Fork of Beargrass Creek, with its concrete channel, winds through the area of our walk. The lack of rain over the past few weeks rendered the creek to a narrow ribbon stream and revealed the gallery of graffiti on the massive linear concrete canvas walls.

Paristown Pointe

Regrouping in the shade at Christy's Garden in Paristown Pointe

As we headed north to our next destination we had to walk along a long, brutal stretch of Swan Street, about 2600 feet or the length of 8 football fields, that offered no solace from the sun. With the work the UofL Envirome Institute's Urban Design Studio is doing to figure out how to make cities healthier and more comfortable, the need for trees was the only thing I was thinking about until we arrived at Christy's Garden, a covered outdoor space in the recently redeveloped Paristown Pointe Arts & Entertainment District. We took a moment to regroup in the shade as the rest of the folks caught up.

Beargrass Creek 02

View of channelized Beargrass Creek from Broadway looking south

After a quick cool-down we continued on towards our next stop passing another section of the South Fork of Beargrass Creek that runs along the rail line and crosses under Broadway as it heads another 2-plus miles towards the Ohio River.

Just after crossing the creek heading west along the south side of East Broadway, the first thing that hits you is just how wide the sidewalks are at more than 24 feet. Next you realize we were staring at another treeless, shadeless stretch of the route with a sea of concrete and asphalt to intensify the heat. This is a section of Broadway before you reach downtown that doesn't have buried utility lines, which is an unfortunate deterrent for the planting of large canopy street trees. The multitude of curb cuts also makes this section of Broadway less than optimal for a good pedestrian experience... but I digress.

Epping District

Terry and Rachel Zink give some background on the Epping District outside the historic Broadway Theatre

We arrived at the Epping District, a cluster of seven historic buildings along the 800 block of East Broadway between Logan Street and Shelby Street. Terry and Rachel Zink served as our Field Guides for this portion of the tour to talk about the history of the place and the vision for the new district which was named after the historic Epping Bottling Works that was housed there for over 150 years. Standing outside the old Broadway Theatre building the group learned the structure had an intent to demolish notice on it in the 1980s which prompted a group to save it. From that point the building was used as an office furniture company until recently, occupying the main floor of the building, but basically mothballing much of the theatre space.

East Broadway Theatre from 1915 (Source: UofL Photographic Archives)
East Broadway Theatre from 1915 (Source: UofL Photographic Archives)
View of the theatre today looking down on the top of the drop ceiling of the old office furniture space. (Photo by Ramona Vasta)
Crowd gathered in the mezzanine area of the theatre
One of two old movie projectors in the projection booth

810/812 East Broadway

A few doors down from the theater is the 810/812 East Broadway building and part of the Epping District, which is undergoing extensive remodeling. As the soon-to-be-home of Kertis Creative, Stephen Kertis took the group on a behind-the-scenes tour of the beautiful first and second floors.

Stephen Kertis gives a tour of the future Kertis Creative offices

The unfinished third floor, with its high ceilings provided the group with a look at how far the first two floors had come, and an opportunity to imagine what could be.

3rd floor space of 810 East Broadway... behind the mansard roof

801 Logan Street

Walking towards 801 Logan's historic cold storage facility (Photo by Chris Harrell)

For the final leg of our tour we walked south on Logan Street towards the towering "Ice House" building, built in 1921, that rises above the surrounding landscape like a medieval windowless skyscraper. The 801 Logan development will not only adaptively reuse the tower, but also encompasses several acres of historic buildings between Lampton Street and Breckinridge Street, from Logan Street to Beargrass Creek.

Historic view of 801 Logan property from 1963 looking northwest from the train overpass at Breckinridge Street (Source: UofL Photographic Archives)
Nate Hammitt describing the redevelopment project (Photo by Ramona Vasta)

Nate Hammitt of WorK Architecture + Design guided the group, offering the history of the site and vision for the future. During our stop Nate talked about a variety of projects already underway with a brewery under construction, a future distillery and a greenway along the back side of the property next to Beargrass Creek that will hopefully be the first part of a much needed, and pleaded for, multi-use path along one of our largest urban waterways.

Historic brewery to become a distillery and other structures behind the tower at 801 Logan (Photo by Chris Harrell)

One of the more recent structures on the site is a large cinder block building surrounded by stacks of reclaimed bricks that will become Trellis Brewing. One of the owners, Kyle Jahn, took the group on a tour of the building currently being framed out. The brewery will be the first project completed in the new development.

Kyle Jahn, one of the owners of Trellis Brewing discusses the plans for the brewery (Photo by Ramona Vasta)
Kyle Jahn shows the renderings of Trellis Brewing (Photo by Chris Harrell)

The last stop of the tour and of 801 Logan was next to the brewery in a group of buildings that will become a new distillery. The first building we entered served as a pump house for the cooling system that circulated throughout the 13-story cold storage tower next door. Some of the old pumps still grace the space.

Patrick Piuma talks to the group about the pump house building (Photo by Chris Greenlee)

Probably one of the most awe inspiring spaces, of a tour with many, was the cold storage facility that predates the 13-story tower. As you approach the space there are no indications of what you are about to experience. Walking through the fairly unassuming doorway, the ceiling soars above you. The light from openings in the ceiling illuminate the walls and floors like a cathedral or underground art scene installation. I can only imagine what this space will be like when renovated, but it certainly will be one of the most unique places in the city.

Cold storage building and future distillery space

As we wrapped up the tour, we headed back to Logan Street Market. Over a beer, I was encouraged to hear of how people on the walk had met some new folks and some old friends. We talked about some of the great things we saw along the way and how you can pass these places for years and never realize what interesting spaces are just out of sight.

There are many more people to meet, places to explore, and spaces to be inspired by. Looking forward to seeing you at a future SoUP event.

The Society of Urban Perambulators is a program by the Urban Design Studio at the University of Louisville. The events are free and open to the public. There is a SoUP Facebook Group if you are interested in joining the more than 240 people on there, or you can email me, the director of the Urban Design Studio (Patrick Piuma), to be added to our SoUP list.