(Courtesy Google)
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What's This?

Some of Louisville’s architectural history has been hiding in plain sight on the corner of Barret Avenue and East Broadway. A false facade covering a set of three historic structures has been peeled away, revealing the original two-story brick facade and storefront.

(Michael Schnuerle)
(Michael Schnuerle)

The building at 1020 East Broadway was once Grimes Vacuum Service and had been covered in a patchwork of eclectic tin signs advertising vacuum-related goods. Much of the building was covered up, including the second floor behind some absurd 1970s version of a Mansard roof.

The building went up for sale and First National Acceptance Company of East Lansing, Michigan is listed as the new owner. That company is a subsidiary of First National Bank of America and is involved in the real estate note buying industry, so we’re not sure if they are actually the developers behind the project or just holding the mortgage.

According to permits filed with Metro Louisville, the building is getting entirely new electrical and HVAC systems in what appears to be a pretty extensive renovation. The building contains three apartments above the ground floor commercial space.

We’d guess that the building’s date to sometime in the 1870s, with additions over the years. Insurance maps from 1905 show the building is actually made up of three distinct structures, which are still discernable today if you look closely.

The building also appears in some photos of the 1937 flood, where a pontoon bridge built of bourbon barrels and designed by local architect William Arrasmith once stood. Those photos show the top of the building as a standing seam metal pitch roof. We couldn’t track down any full on photos of just this building, but it falls within the style of Louisville vernacular commercial architecture, which was once prolific throughout the city. Sadly, many of these buildings have been torn down through the years.

The buildings appear on a 1905 map of the area. (Courtesy KYVL)
The buildings appear on a 1905 map of the area. (Courtesy KYVL)
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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

4 COMMENTS

  1. Great corner commercial that flies in the face of recent approvals westward …. Or value of context connectivity and potential vs Carthage. Not every historic building need meet the ideals of high style to matter. Urban diversity begins with a host of structures great and small that reinforce a sense of place.

  2. This is exciting. Great corner. I knew that something with potential was under than mansard, if only I’d had the money to buy it. What a deal!

  3. Is construction shamming a thing? I had passed by the corner of East Broadway and Barrett Ave. over the weekend only to see this poor renovation or remuddling in full swing. Should someone tell All-Trade that good design and appropriate materials add value to a building…. I would have preferred that they not invest so poorly in what could have been a good project. #putdownthehammer

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