An Homage to Germantown

As a recent transplant to this fair city from multiple places around the globe, I was fascinated by the history and culture that Louisville had to offer.  Although I began my Louisville experience living in the East End, I recently relocated to a quiet little street in Germantown.  The area intrigued me from the first time I mistakenly drove through the neighborhood while on my way to my first classes at U of L.  I was fascinated by the row upon row of shotgun houses.  I had seen these types of dwellings before, but not in such proliferation.  I really got to know the area when I started dating a woman from Louisville who lived in a shotgun house in Germantown.  I loved the small garden yards and the feeling of community that exuded from the neighborhood.  When we decided to get married, we both knew that we could not live in the shotgun she owned, but also understood that we did not want to leave the area.  In the end we moved into a house that was two blocks from her original shotgun.

Shotgun houses in Louisville, mid-twentieth century.

Shotgun houses in Louisville, mid-twentieth century.

Although the tidy surroundings and interesting people were the driving force for me wanting to move into the area, the history of Germantown also caught my attention.  Germantown, as the reader can probably surmise, received its name from the number of German immigrants that moved into the area in the second half of the nineteenth century.  The area was originally dotted with family farms and small businesses before Beargrass Creek was routed into a deeper canal.  The deeper canal kept the creek from flooding and reduced the cases of malaria in the Germantown area considerably.  With the malaria situation under control, Germantown population expanded greatly in the 1890s, which led to the building of the shotgun-styled homes that are still seen in the neighborhood today.  At the turn of the century a bridge was built across Beargrass Crrek in order for the French Catholics located in Paristown to be able to attend the one Catholic Church in the area.

Although Germantown did not see the worst of the fighting between the Germans and the Know-Nothing Party that resulted in the Bloody Monday Riots of 1855, Germantown was seen as a haven for those Germans that wanted to get away from the abuses that were being heaped on the immigrants during the time.  Even though Germantown did not have the checkered past of the Butchertown or Phoenix Hill neighborhoods, it can be seen at as a typical immigrant community during the turn of the twentieth century.  But, that is also what made it so alluring.  Many of the families that were original to Germantown still live in the community.  To them, and to recent transplants like me, it is home.

Filson Historical

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