Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Christmas in Louisville

 I was surprised to be welcomed by a beefeater at the Frazier Museum downtown Louisville. Here the history depicting the evolution of weapons and warfare throughout the ages is presented in the chronological sequence but ends with a display with old cars and dresses from the “gilded age.”  There are dioramas of some famous historical battles such as the battle of Culloden.  It also offers impersonation of historical people and the day I was there Annie Oakley, a famous sharpshooter of the late XIX century who performed with Buffalo Bill’s Circus was featured.

 Old Louisville is a neighborhood that was developed in the in the grounds where the 1883 Southern Exposition took place. After the closure and removal of the buildings of the exposition the land was sold and the Belgravia and St. James Courts developed.  Most of the mansions have survived and among the most prominent is the Conrad-Caldwell House located at 1402 St. James Court, also known as Louisville Castle. It included electrical and internal plumbing systems, the latest innovations of the era.  One interesting item was the design of the lamps in places such as the living and dining rooms were designed both with electrical and gas supplies in case on failed.  The mansion is furnished with items of the age and one in particular attracted my attention—the Baby Daisy Vacuum Cleaner.  It was man-powered and required two persons to operate. It came also as an electric powered version but appears that former unit was more popular.  It was invented in France but mostly fabricated in England. Behind the Baby Daisy there are other dust removal artifacts such as the carpet beater resting against the corner.  I have visited many of these mansions but this one is the only one that will deserve a second visit.

 The Pink House at 1473 St. James Court is the second most appealing to me, not just because of its color but because of it was built as a casino and later used by the Women’s Temperance Union …if the walls could talk. It has the most beautiful door.

 There are other homes of varied styles in the Old town trying to imitate those of the original Belgravia and St. James neighborhoods in London, England.  The mansion below located at 1424 St James St. is in the Venetian gothic style and those who have visited the real Venice in Italy, will recognize the style except for the colors.  The home at 424 Belgravia Court has an interesting double set of stairs. By the way, when I arrived in Louisville, I went to the Old Louisville Chamber of Commerce at 1217 South and 4th Street to look for guides and it was closed…the building was empty and no directions as to where it was moved to.

 A visit to Louisville is not complete unless one crosses the river and visit Clarksville.  Here at the “Falls of the Ohio” Meriwether Lewis met William Clark before commencing their famous expedition west after Louisiana Purchase by Thomas Jefferson from Napoleon in 1803; the greatest real estate deal in history.  Interestingly Roger Clark a Revolutionary War hero and the founder of Louisville was the father of William Clark. There is a river drive that begins where the monument to the explorers is located and driving up river there is the walking bridge and an old house that now operates as an ice cream shop.  It was closed because who wants ice creams outdoor in the winter…it was already freezing. Another point of interest at the end of the road is Steamboat Museum.

 Back in Louisville driving around saw the Goose Creek Dinner, I cannot pass one; they are a welcome relief from the chain eateries.  The country style meal was excellent and the prices…a travel back in time when a buck was worth a dollar. And as bonus, I found this graffiti in the wall of the garage next door. So with this blog I finish 2014.  Next for 2015, a return to the wild places…stay tuned.