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There was a nail-biter of a preservation problem in Phoenix Hill closing out 2016. A wrong-way driver hit another motorist, creating an uncontrolled crash at East Broadway and Shelby Street. By the news photos at the time last December, it sure looks like speed played a big part as well. “He was going so fast. I couldn’t even try to steer,” Linda Porter, a crash victim, told the Courier-Journal. The wrong-way driver faces no charges.

When the dust settled, a good chunk of a historic three-story building at 743 East Broadway was resting on the street.

Authorities called the building, most easily recognized as home of the UPS Store, “structurally unsafe.” And in Louisville, that typically means it’s a goner. A truck smashed off the corner pillar, removing support for bricks above. The effect looked like a sort of Corbel arch had been crudely carved into the facade.

We crossed our fingers and crept past the crash site every couple weeks to keep tabs on the structure. And what do you know? Scaffolding appeared, and then masons began adding new bricks. A new iron column props up the corner entry to the UPS Store. Now, the wall is complete, and the building saved. What a success story for preservation in Louisville!

The building’s current owner is listed as Forza Properties LLC, with Chris Cottongim and Stephen Tracy as officers. Cottongim and Tracy are both architects, running 5253 Design Group and Forza Architecture, respectively. And as it turns out, their offices are both on the upper floors of this building at 654 South Shelby Street. Congrats to both for such a remarkable rebuild of their building and offices on a prominent corner of Phoenix Hill.

We put in a call to for more information from Stephen Tracy, and will update this article when we hear back.

Historic photo references: one, two, three, four.

While watching over the corner, we also dug into the building’s past to see what had been in there before. And the business lineup is eclectic. The First National Bank anchored the corner with an enormous clock suspended over its entry. Next door, R & B Hardware Co. operated in another retail bay. First National later relocated to Fifth Street between Jefferson and Market, taking its clock along with it.

Other tenants over the years include offices of Dr. Lee J. Ernstberger and later the General Appliance Co. in the 1940s. At some point in the ’50s, a restaurant around on the Shelby Street side ran a segregated operation and a bar called Mace Goss sold “food and drink in a pleasant atmosphere” in 1935. Redd’s Auto Parts also had a long stay on the corner in the 1970s. The corner then became a Mail Boxes Etc. in the ’90s and finally a UPS Store.

Stephen Zink and David Kamer operating under East Broadway Inc. renovated the property and demolished a building to enlarge its parking lot almost two decades ago. Today, as we mentioned, the corner is owned by Forza Properties, and appears under good stewardship.

Do you know more about the building’s history? Please share with us in the comments below.

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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

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