Sprucing Up

Pewee Valley Town Hall gets a makeover

The city plans to show off the work
at the Dec. 4 Yule Log

PEWEE VALLEY, Ky. (December 2016) – The Pewee Valley Town Hall recently got a makeover. It was a much-needed facelift for the only surviving town hall in Oldham County still used for its original purpose.
In the fall of this year, the city completed a $16,000 project to refurbish the exterior of the Town Hall, according to Mayor Bob Rogers. Until recently, the building located at 312 Mt. Mercy Dr. has always been white, but for the first time in 119 years the color was noticeably changed to beige.
Rogers said work included replacing rotting wood siding with fire-resistant cement board and adding insulation. New columns were added to the porch, and a new copper-topped cupola replaced the well-worn original one. Interior renovation work was completed two years ago when water damaged the inside of the building, he said.
The bell in the cupola is still rung to start city council meetings, which take place at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of each month. The Pewee Valley Historical Society meets in this location as well.

Photo provided

The new cupola is lifted into place over the bell atop the Pewee Valley Town Hall during a recent renovation.

A great time to show off the new facade will be during the upcoming Yule Log Celebration, scheduled from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, on the Town Square. This annual event, hosted by the city, features a visit from Santa, chili dinner, bonfire and caroling by the Oldham County Singers’ AcaBelles.
The building also contains the Pewee Valley Town Hall Museum in an old vehicle bay. The bay was installed in the late 1960s, and is a remnant from when the building was used as a firehouse. The Pewee Valley Fire Department had been housed in a separate, wooden garage beside Town Hall prior to this. The City spent $90,000 to buy and preserve this adjacent 2,000-square-foot property years later when the Fire Department moved to a new location.
A collection of items on loan from the Herdt family helped get the museum up and going. The family has been in the area for six generations.
Jacob A. Herdt, a German blacksmith, moved to the area in the late 1800s. He constructed the Herdt Motor Co. building and used it as his blacksmith shop. Other uses included a wagon shop, Ford dealership, automotive repair center and lawn tractor dealership and repair shop.
The nonprofit Friends of Pewee Valley helped with museum costs. The museum is open to the public during regular Town Hall hours. 
In 1897, land for the Town Hall and a jail was leased for one year from W.N. Jurey for $12, with an option to buy at the end of the year. W.A. Smith drew up plans for the building, and M.A. Stoess constructed the Town Hall for $295. The building was completed in August but was not used regularly until October.
The following year, on June 6, 1898, the Town Council allocated an additional $4.40 for furnishing the building. Prior to this, meeting locations were sporadic. The Town Council met at W.N. Jurey’s store, Foley’s store and the railroad depot.
The City of Pewee Valley, named for the Eastern Wood Pewee bird, has a long history that is well worth preserving. The land was originally given as a land grant of 4,000 acres to Ora Norborn Beall in 1784 and became known as Smith’s Station. It became a frequent stopping point on the roads from Louisville to Brownsboro and Middletown to Westport.
In 1851 the Louisville and Frankfort Railroad completed a line between these two cities. By 1854 summer homes had begun to spring up, and the railroad began a commuter service. In 1858 there were 15 residences.
Villa Ridge Inn was constructed in 1889 for $90,000. It was a four-story summer resort, but when it couldn’t attract enough visitors to keep its doors open, it became a temporary private high school, the successor to the Kentucky College for Young Ladies.
The Town of Pewee Valley was incorporated before this in 1870. An 1874 description of the town in “Collins’ History of Kentucky” described it as “the most beautiful of the suburb villages of Louisville.”
Author Annie Fellows Johnston thought of the quaint little town in this way also. Johnston, author of the Little Colonel book series, lived there for a time and described the residents and idyllic surroundings in her novels. Pewee Valley is home to the Little Colonel Playhouse, named for Johnston’s famous character.
Pewee Valley is home to the Confederate Cemetery, the only cemetery for Confederate veterans in Kentucky. Land was purchased for the cemetery in 1871, and the cemetery organized one year later. This official state burying ground contains 313 veterans. 
In 1902 the Kentucky state assembly unanimously approved to build the Confederate Veterans Home. The facility provided a hospital, nursing care, food, entertainment and religious services for up to 350 veterans at one time.
During its time of operation, the Confederate Veterans Home provided a place to live for 700 former Confederate soldiers.
A fire destroyed the main building, infirmary ward and laundry on March 25, 1920. The doors finally closed in 1934.

Recently, a 19th century cast iron mail pole was donated to the city by Mike Thompson, grandson of former postmaster Mackey Fletcher. It was placed near the caboose in the town square, and a dedication ceremony took place during the Pewee Valley Women’s Club Arts & Crafts Show.

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