Today at 1:00p.m., the Louisville Metro Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss a proposal from the University of Louisville Foundation to rename a section of Warnock Street to University Boulevard near the school’s Belknap Campus. (The meeting takes place in the Old Jail Auditorium, 514 West Liberty Street, if you’d like to attend.)
We previously covered that proposal in detail here, where we explored the evolution of street names in the area and wondered, exactly, who was Warnock in the first place? Well, a diligent reader did some research and shared with us exactly who Warnock Street was named for. Let’s dig in.
Broken Sidewalk reader Deborah Andrew found several newspaper clippings dating to World War I that reveal veteran Roy S. Warnock is the street’s namesake. According to a Courier-Journal note published May 16, 1922, “Louisville’s sons who fell during the World War probably will be honored by having their names given to streets.”
Warnock was among the names recommended, and his street stretched from what was G Street east to Flat Rock Road (now Crittenden Drive). Past Crittenden today, East Warnock Street doglegs and turns into the St. Joseph neighborhood. This one-block stretch, pictured at top, would not change names under the UL Foundation proposal.
The move to rename streets around the city was due to some 188 streets and alleys across the city that carried duplicate names, not to mention continued growth on the outskirts of town. According to news reports at the time, the changes were slow to be enacted due to the volume of streets and concerned citizens not wanting to change address. Many soldiers who died in the war were also not able to be honored because existing streets already bore their family names.
Other veterans honored with street names at the time of Warnock included Lester Armes, Pierce Butler Atwood, M. Eigelbach, Robert E. Fleming, E.L. Garrett, Howard Gatewood, J.M.F. Humler, Thomas Netherton, P.S. Page, H.K. & R.E. Rethwick, Franklin Saunders, Miss Hazel Weller, Robert E. Winkler, and A.P. Humphrey, according to an August 1, 1922 Courier-Journal clipping. Many of those names can also be found in the same area today.
According to an obituary dated October 13, 1919 in the Courier-Journal, Private Warnock died at age 33 after serving overseas for nearly two years. He served with the Canadian Forces’ Royal Engineers and the Second Canadian Division and was wounded four times in that span, including being “riddled with machine gun bullets.”
Warnock received honors from two different countries for his bravery, including the French Croix de Guerre, the British Military Medal, and the King George Medal. He served with the Canadian forces after attempting to join the Illinois National Guard in Chicago, where he was turned down for active duty.
He died of heart disease due to gas exposure during the war at the home of his parents, Mr. & Mrs. William S. Henry, at 607 South 38th Street in Louisville’s Shawnee neighborhood. His funeral was overseen by soldiers from Louisville’s Camp Zachary Taylor. Warnock is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery.
“I am not related to Private Warnock,” Andrew wrote to Broken Sidewalk, “but the more I get to ‘know’ about him, the more I want to see him continued to be honored by having the street named for him.” She lamented that his history would be partially forgotten by the street name change.
What do you think? Should most of Warnock Street be renamed to University Boulevard? Should we continue to honor the name of Roy S. Warnock instead? Share your opinion in the poll and comments below. Following today’s Planning Commission meeting, the Metro Council will make the final decision on renaming the street.[total-poll id=28735]