Lessons in architecture
Louisville bus tour
LOUISVILLE, Ky. Winding through the streets
of Louisville by tour bus, you soon begin to see how the city developed,
neighborhood by neighborhood, by simply studying its architecture. Tour
guide Joanne Weeter, the citys historic preservation officer,
brings this history to life as she conducts what has become a monthly
event since it was first conceived a year ago for the National Trust
for Historic Preservations National Conference, held in October
2004 in Louisville.
During the conference, local officials gave 15 such bus
tours for nearly 2,000 people from around the country, Weeter said.
She is an appropriate tour guide, considering that her job of 22 years
with the city is to consult with property owners about investment tax
credits and help them assess their houses for eligibility to the National
Register of Historic Places.
The tour explores Louisvilles rich heritage as a
pioneer village, bustling riverboat town, Victorian city and todays
remarkable contemporary architecture. Weeter explains the architecture
behind many homes and government buildings, as well as libraries and
public and private structures.
Weeter explained that Louisvilles historic preservation
efforts began when a group formed to save the 550-acre Farmington plantation,
home of the John Speed and Lucy Gilmer Fry Speed. The federal style
home dates to 1815. The preservation movement grew when interstate highways
began spreading across the country in the 1950s, gobbling up many historic
neighborhoods at about the same time that federal urban renewal programs
were removing blighted neighborhoods through demolition.
The Barry Bingham family is credited with initiating the
drive to save Louisvilles historic past in the wake of Congress
passage of the 1966 National Preservation Act. That law represented
a way to recognize Americas treasures by listing those qualified
on the National Register of Historic Places, thereby affording them
some protection from destruction. Former Mayor Harvey Sloane became
a preservation activist while in office, and at one point, Louisville
ranked second only to Boston in the number of sites listed on the Register.
Today, the city ranks in the top 10 and is supported in preservation
efforts by the Louisville Metro Landmarks Commission, created in 1973.
Discover Louisville tours are held on the second Sunday of each month through June 2006. Additional tours are anticipated in May, which is National Preservation Month and the Kentucky Derby season. Tours begin at 1 p.m. and return promptly at 4 p.m. Boarding begins half hour prior to departure. The next tour is Dec. 11. Tours begins at the Louisville Water Tower, located at the northern end of Zorn Avenue at River Road. Tickets may be reserved by calling Joanne Weeter at (502) 574-2868 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.