A massive block-long series of warehouses along 8th Street in the Limerick / SoBro neighborhood is scheduled for demolition. The Cook Compression Company, a subsidiary of the multinational Dover Corporation, has applied to raze the buildings and the 30-day stay of demolition period is ticking. Individually, these buildings make up a varied streetscape between Kentucky and Breckinridge streets and date as far back as the late 1800s.
All but one small modern warehouse on the Cook / Dover site is scheduled to be destroyed in the area marked in red on the map below. Each segment of the property is unique, creating a pleasant streetscape along 8th Street that could have provided a backbone for a mixed use center for Limerick. Interestingly, the suburban-style apartments across the street from these warehouses was once home to Eclipse Field, the venue of big-time baseball in Louisville. A block-long street between 7th and 8th streets with a park-like median through its center actually dates to at least the turn of the century, but I’m not sure why it was built here.
Cook Compression was founded in Louisville as the C. Lee Cook Manufacturing Company on the same site as these warehouses (916 S. 8th St.) in 1888 by Charles Lee Cook when he was only 17. Cook was an inventor who made great advancements in train technology that are still in use today. Polio-stricken and bound to a wheelchair, he built a unique house in 1926 in Old Louisville at Sixth and Ormsby that is surely one of the first handicap-accessible buildings in the city. Today, Dover is headquartered in that vast morass of suburbs called Chicagoland and Louisville isn’t mentioned at all on the Cook Compression web site.
As the C. Lee Cook company grew, it acquired neighboring properties on the block, eventually stretching all the way to Kentucky Street where a one-story building at 970 South 8th St. marked Huber and Huber trucking company in stone above the door. Directly north of that is an old loading terminal set off the street slightly (below) that could have made a great farmers market. The rest of the buildings are more traditional one-two story buildings forming a distinct urban edge along the sidewalk.
There’s currently no protection for these buildings as they do not sit within a historic district, even though they are eligible for the National Register listing. Louisville’s industrial legacy has been under direct attack recently and there’s little reason to believe these buildings could be saved. Destruction of these early industrial structures is a tremendous loss for the city, especially en masse, as this typology is the most readily and affordably transformed into other vibrant uses. No word on what Cook / Dover plan for the site.