Neighborhood Guide: Original Highlands

In Louisville, Kentucky, the historic neighborhood, The Original Highlands' boundaries are East Broadway on the north, Rufer Avenue on the south, Bardstown Road/Baxter Avenue on the east, and Barret Avenue on the west.

The history that built this neighborhood begins when it was built on land surveyed in 1774. The land was granted to surveyor Colonial William Preston of Fincastle County, Virginia. After he passed away in 1781, his son, Major William Preston and his wife made their residency there in 1814 and set up a plantation which they named 'Briar Patch”. What is now known as Bardstown Road was constructed in 1819 and originally called Louisville and Bardstown Turnpike and in time, people began to move to the area. Prior to the American Civil war, the area was known as New Hamburg and was inhibited by German immigrants who were drawn to the agricultural benefits the land offered.

Christy Avenue was named for Colonel Preston's daughter, Susan Preston Christy, who inherited the land and a formal subdivision was formed. In 1869 Hepburn Avenue was subdivided between Barrett and Baxter by Sydney J. Rogers. In 18971, increase in the neighborhood began when a horse-drawn streetcar line to Highland Avenue. Hughes Addition was the next subdivision built in 1875 with a great deal of the land being subdivided by 1891 at the hands of William Preston Johnson  and the final subdivision created in 1896, The Barr Subdivision.

With the establishment of Cherokee Park in 1891, popularity increased even more which resulted in the nearly all of the land being developed by 1895. Between 1860 and 1895, the bulk of the houses of the Original Highlands were built with the last 11 years being the peak of construction with 600 houses. The homes before 1884 were mostly situated on Breckinridge, Christy, Baxter and Barret.

The area was named the Highlands as it is on a ridge between the middle and south forks of Beargrass Creek above the flood plain of the Ohio River. Along the same ridge today, there are eight other neighborhoods jointly called The Highlands being named so as to distinguish between the Original Highlands and the Highlands.

With a mixture of large, wood framed and brick Victorian homes and working class shotgun homes, the architecture and convenience to the downtown area, draws the attention of professionals today. In addition to it proximity to the Baxter Avenue, Bardstown Road and Barret Avenue areas that consist of art galleries, eclectic shopping and events such as the Original Highlands Art and Music Festival each September. Between Highland Avenue and Broadway, the stretch of Baxter Avenue is recognized as a popular destination of Louisville consisting of a bars, restaurants, galleries and shops. The commercial area of The Barrett Avenue is gaining awareness as an art zone due to the growth in art galleries. A small factory that produces the most disco balls in the world, National Products, is located at the corner of Breckenridge Street and Baxter Avenue.

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