Historic Preservation on Main Street
During the holiday season many of us who grew up in Louisville remember seeing A Christmas Carol performed at Actors Theatre or hearing the carolers with Dickens on Main. As you entered the theatre, history was all around.
A Christmas Carol was published in 1843. Six years earlier, the columned portion of the Actors Theatre building on Main Street was constructed in 1837. That same year, the Greek Revival Farnsley-Moremen House was built along the Ohio River in Southwest Louisville.
Several other buildings on Main Street were there in 1842 when Charles Dickens visited Louisville. After staying in the Galt House, he wrote, “a splendid hotel; and were as handsomely lodged as though we had been in Paris, rather than hundreds of miles beyond the Alleghenies.” On his way to Portland to embark on a paddleboat to Cincinnati, he must have passed the St. Charles and Ft. Nelson buildings.
The retention of history and authenticity commemorates the past along with the craftsmanship and materials oftentimes not readily available. For structural engineers, historic preservation means finding practical and creative solutions for rehabilitating the bones of older structures and complying with municipal guidelines. In Louisville, the Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission designates landmark buildings and preservation districts, while overseeing alterations to the exterior of landmarks and buildings within the preservation districts.
Leonard Engineering helps project owners with preservation to maintain, stabilize and repair a building to retain a property’s form and contextual significance. When the use of building changes or continued use requires alterations, we focus on rehabilitation while retaining the property’s historic character.
Leonard Engineering is proud of our work to preserve and rehabilitate buildings and our history. We are privileged to have been a part of many of Louisville’s historic preservation projects. The Opera Building is one such project up Main Street from Actors Theatre. Leonard Engineering provided structural engineering services for the renovation of the five story 1886 warehouse that is now office space.
Even saving part of a building can be important to a community and history. Just east of Actors Theatre is Whiskey Row, which is part of Louisville’s collection of cast-iron facades. Only New York’s SoHo district has more cast-iron facade architecture than Louisville. In 2013, Leonard Engineering worked to stabilize and preserve the facades of several of the buildings on the north side of that block that date back from 1852 to 1905, and originally housed the beginnings of the Commonwealth’s bourbon industry.
After decades a neglect, this block now is experiencing a rebirth as part of the Bourbon Trail. Brown-Forman occupied two builds on Whiskey Row between 1900 and 1919. They will be returning to the block in 2016 when the Old Forrester distillery is moved to its rehabilitated location.