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What's This?

Three corners on the intersection of Third Street and Ormsby Avenue in Old Louisville look a lot like they did a century ago. On the west side, two stately Victorian houses watch over wide tree-lined sidewalks. On the southeast corner, the First Church Christ Scientist takes the form of a Classical stone temple.

But on the northeast corner, there’s nothing. A lot of nothing. In fact, roughly half the entire block is dedicated to surface level parking lots surrounding a somewhat-out-of-place slab residential tower built sometime in the 1970s. Today’s Hillebrand House senior housing stands 16-stories tall—about 210 feet—and contains 238 apartments. That’s a big dose of density but it’s a tower in a parking lot, which serves to deaden the urban experience.

(Montage by Broken Sidewalk)
(Montage by Broken Sidewalk)

That, of course, wasn’t always the case. This stretch of parking lots facing Third Street was once lined with a variety of stately houses and ornate commercial buildings typical of the area. The two-and-a-half story building we’re looking at today—originally Imorde Brothers’ Grocery in the late 19th century and later Imorde’s Restaurant—sits on another parking lot today owned by the Filson Historical Society.

[beforeafter]third-and-ormsby-louisville-05 third-and-ormsby-louisville-04[/beforeafter]

We spotted the building on the Back in the Good Old Days Facebook page, where many recalled the old restaurant as a neighborhood staple serving Louisville’s own Benedictine sandwiches. Among the comments:

  • “It always had wonderful aromas coming out when I walked by there with my Mom.”
  • “We used to stop there on our way to our after school jobs and I usually got a Benedictine sandwich.”
  • “The sandwiches were made to order and one of the guys would always get Turtle Soup.”

third-and-ormsby-louisville-02

Another commenter noted that the building burned in 1973, but I couldn’t find any more information on why the structure was torn down. Please share your memories or additional info in the comments below. The Old Louisville Guide website had this to say about the building:

This was later the site of Imorde’s Restaurant (pronounced Ah-mord-ee), a popular deli-style restaurant which finally closed in 1973. It was especially known for its Sunday brunch. The restaurant was also famous for its soups and known for serving the best Benedictine in town (no doubt the family knew Jennie Benedict personally as she lived only a couple of doors down).

(Courtesy Back in the Good Old Days)
(Courtesy Back in the Good Old Days)

To the north, where other parking lots and the tower today stand were a variety of other mansions and the Marquette Terrace motel, which operated in the 1940s out of several old houses. That motel had its own parking lot where other houses once stood. Check out old postcard views here and here and here and here.

Another notable house at 1323 South Third Street was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style popular in the 1870s. Take a look at that longgone-structure below:

(Courtesy Old Louisville Guide)
(Courtesy Old Louisville Guide)

 

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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

8 COMMENTS

  1. Imorde’s was a popular place serving great soups, sandwiches and other fare. First place I had bouillabaisse. ‘Twas sad to lose it.

  2. In the summer of 1966 I worked next door to Imordes at the old Photographic Associates operated by the great commercial photographer Leroy Anderson. Every morning at 10 a.m. I was sent next door to pick up Danish pastries from Imordes. The best in town.

    Nearly 50 years later I still recall the kindness of the Imorde family and the flavor of their pastries.

  3. My Dad was George Imorde. So happy to know he is remembered by his kindness as well as his good food! Love seeing the picture of the building on 3rd and Ormsby. I cannot to begin to tell you memories that flooded my mind! Thank you!

  4. I frequently ate lunch at Imorde’s after I began teaching at UofL in 1970. I would love to have the recipe for my favorite sandwich…it was called something like Westminster or Kensington…something English. I had my first lunch date with my future husband there…

  5. Wonderful to read about the Imordes in Louisville. My grandmother was Julia Louise Imorde Lane. There were 2 generations of Imordes who ran the general store and restaurant for well over one-hundred years in Louisville – it was a beloved location for many. And truly, a gorgeous building!

  6. (pronounced Ah-mord-ee) I never heard it said that way…the Im was always pronounced just that way,. Im.

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