Metal facade stripped from New Albany building
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Metal facade stripped from New Albany building
Metal facade stripped from New Albany building. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

Back in the 20th century, folks didn’t appreciate historic architecture like we do today. There was something about intricately carved stone details that must have been off-putting to them. Many a building not demolished was covered from head to toe in a metal or tile anti-facade. Upper-story windows were made useless, but that was okay because cities weren’t for people… suburbs were for people. Today, we’re timidly peeling away these mistakes and crossing our fingers something of the historic facade still remains underneath. New Albany got lucky this time. A near-perfectly preserved three-story brick and stone building has emerged from under the iron curtain and is preparing for a facelift.

New Albanys old Fashion Shop before reclamation
New Albany’s old Fashion Shop before reclamation. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

This building on Pearl Street was once the home of a Fashion Shop who put up the metal facade. You can faintly make out the faded outlines of old neon letters running up the metal facade (pictured below). The only damage we spotted to the original building were on two skinny stone rows that had been chipped away. We had a chance to go inside this structure a while back before any restoration plans were announced. The ground level retail space is simply a large open shell, but climbing up to the upper levels was like stepping into a time machine. Fortunately for the building, it was sealed up and forgotten and every last detail from intricately carved wooden molding to the original 19th century wallpaper were still intact. There’s quite a bit of potential for this one.

A similar reveal on Fourth Street in Louisville at the site of the old Tiff’s Records and now home to the Bycks Lofts wasn’t so lucky. The original limestone face underneath a nondescript beige anti-facade was completely destroyed. A once intricate commercial building had its details chiseled away for mid-century banality. A new metal and terracotta tile facade was eventually installed for the loft project.

There is, however, some hope for another anti-facade on Louisville’s Fourth Street. There’s another old Fashion Shop just south of Bycks Lofts, now home to the Fashion Club store, that’s suffering from a sort of pink tile facade problem. We believe the building still has its brick and stone facade in place under the ugliness, and from what we hear there’s a beautiful four-story building under there. Unfortunately, the current owner of the property has no intentions to remove the facade or restore the building.

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Branden Klayko

Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

6 COMMENTS

  1. If you look at the photograph in this link (which sadly is of the old Post Office and Customs House being demolished) you can see the original facade of the covered up building on fourth street. It looks quite lovely, and would add a lot to the street scape if someone could take the time to restore it. If its still there, of course; fingers crossed!

    http://oldlouisville.com/Ruins/PO/POruins.htm

  2. I was poking around on google maps when I spotted another anti-facade near the corner of Shelby and Jefferson Street. Looks like a historic commercial building and a townhouse (judging from the small setback) covered with cheap corrugated metal siding. One of the panels is missing in the photo, and what seems to be a largely intact (but in need of some serious TLC) brick facade is peeking out. The buildings are right across the street from Liberty Green, and I was hoping that something had happened since the Google Street Map photo was taken. Any word?

  3. Yeah those are the very ones. But the townhouse doesn’t look to good; the upper right corner of the facade appears to be cracking and pulling away from the rest of the building.

  4. Apparently the “anti-facade” on 4th Street is hiding a very much intact historic face. There is in fact a 3-4 foot gap between the original building and the mid-century covering, and you can actually stick your head out the upper story windows into the space and admire the perfectly preserved brick and stone facade hidden from the street.

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