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One of Louisville’s least-remembered large tear-down’s occupied a prominent site across the street from the old courthouse, now Metro Hall, on what was then known as Center Street (indicated above). There’s really very little I could find out about the building, but it does appear in several photos from my postcard collection. Now a park, Center Street once provided a terminated vista on the Doric columns of the old courthouse (along with the adjacent Willard Hotel, which I’ll cover later).

Postcards indicate the ten-story building was called the Realty Building, but this demolition photo lists the structure as the Center Building. Built in the Chicago-style by Louisville architect Henry Wolters, it looks to be clad in stone (Wolters also designed the demo’ed Tyler Block east on Jefferson and the Quinn Chapel Church on West Chestnut). While it does feature decorated spandrels between windows and an intricate cornice, it’s overall ornament is more austere than some of Louisville’s other tall historic buildings.

Realty Building from the Courthouse (Courtesy UL Photographic Archives)
Realty Building from the Courthouse, 1921 (Courtesy UL Photographic Archives)
The Realty Building (BS File Postcard)
The Realty Building (BS File Postcard)
Sanborn Map showing site of the Realty Building before construction (KYVL)
Sanborn Map showing site of the Realty Building before construction (KYVL)
The Realty Building looking east on Jefferson Street (BS File Postcard)
The Realty Building looking east on Jefferson Street (BS File Postcard)
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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

5 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for the article. I now realize why I couldn’t figure out where the Realty Building fit into the streetscape: the corner that it sat on is gone, buried underneath the PNC tower (which I guess is why the RB was torn down?). Sad to see yet another picturesque vista in Louisville that has since been lost.

  2. The postcard pix here also show how much of the context or urban fabric of downtown was lost. This was one prominent building. Probably 100s (thousands)of lesser buildings, and who knows how many square blocks, were levelled. The city we know today is just a shadow of what existed.

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