This begins a new feature of The Filson's Blog. Historical images of buildings or a location from our collection will be juxtaposed with images from that same site today. The site and view might have changed little or it might be entirely different, with a new building, parking lot, etc. now there. Some of the changes might be for the better and in the name of progress; and sometimes the change will be a real loss to our architectural and historical heritage. But either way, the viewer will be able to step back in time and see what the site looked like THEN and what it looks like NOW.
Our first "Then and Now" pairing is related to the founder of Louisville, George Rogers Clark. The famous "Hannibal of the West" founded Louisville in 1778 while on his way farther west to attack British posts in the Illinois Country. Clark made Louisville his home for most of the rest of his life. He believed so strongly in Kentucky being that "Eden of the West" that he persuaded his parents, John and Ann Clark, to move to Louisville from Caroline County, Virginia. With them came their three unmarried daughters (Lucy, Elizabeth, and Fanny) and youngest son William. They settled on a tract of land that George most likely selected for them on the south fork of Beargrass Creek. John Clark christened the estate Mulberry Hill. The nucleus of the Clark plantation was the house, of course. The property, although whittled down through the years) stayed in the Clark family until it was sold to the federal government in 1917 as part of the land acquired for Camp Zachary Taylor. The house iteself had collapsed through neglect about 1900, but the outbuildings were still intact. In order to make way for the camp, all the surviving buildings were razed (the fate of many structures on property acquired for the camp). When the camp was closed and sold at auction in 1921 Clark family members purchased forty-six acres containing the family cemetery and where the house had stood. That tract was donated to the city of Louisville for a park to be named in honor of Louisville's founder. Today, George Rogers Clark Park is a popular destination located on Poplar Level Road. The playground equipment is located where the house once stood.
Only the family cemetery (many of the bodies were transferred to Cave Hill Cemetery in 1868) remains today to remind us where Louisville's founder and one of our most famous pioneer families (William Clark and his enslaved African American York who lived for many years at Mulberry Hill would go on to fame on the Lewis & Clark Expedition) once lived.
For more information go to the Lewis and Clark in Kentucky website and Ernest M. Ellison, Mulberry Hill Plantation: The Clark Family Home in Louisville, Kentucky(Louisville 1991).