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Old Louisville is one of America's finest neighborhoods. It is known to have some of the best examples of Victorian architecture in the entire country and walking along its charming streets is always a delight. The area roughly encompasses the area between Broadway in the north to Cardinal Boulevard at the University of Louisville in the south. Along the parallel 2nd, 3rd and 4th Streets visitors will see many preserved Italianate, Romanesque and Queen Anne homes and buildings, one of note is the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum. Other gems within the district are St. James Court, Belgravia Court and Central Park, where it literally feels as if you've traveled back to 1870.
Although the 19-year-old Thomas Edison only resided at 729-31 East Washington Street for a year, it was during his time here working as a telegraph key operator that he explored improvements to the telegraph. Today, the Thomas Edison House continues to support the inquisitive spirit by organizing the annual 'Invention Convention', where school children compete with their own wunderkind ideas. The 'Edison Extravaganza Evening' is another annual event that presents silent and live auctions. Have a party or group function that requires a historical inventor's living quarters (and tranquil backyard garden)? The house is available to rent for up to 50 people.
During the mid 19th-century there was still not a proper burial site for the Louisville's deceased, so a portion of Cave Hill farm was turned into a cemetery in 1848. The garden cemetery is known throughout Kentucky for its beautiful headstones, burial vaults and monuments. Moreover, the sloping hills with traditional earthen plots placed alongside imposing mausoleums and creepy statues evoke an eerie charm from the cemetery. The staff provides group tours for a nominal fee and individual tours are complimentary if made in advance.
The historic part of West Main Street runs from 2nd Street to 9th Street and it's one of the oldest streets in Louisville. It has been here since the inception of the city in 1788 and it's quite possibly one of the most visited areas in town. Here visitors will find the Frazier International History Museum, the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, the Louisville Science Center and many other attractions. A walk between 6th and 9th Streets offers pedestrians architectural eye-candy with wonderful cast-iron facades on some buildings, reminiscent of those in New York City's Soho, the only difference is that parking is easier to find here.
A world-renowned racecourse commemorating Henry Churchill, the Churchill Downs is the holy grail for aficionados of horse racing. Spread across more than 140 acres (56 hectares), the track rekindled Louisville's hope for horse racing after two of the city's favorite venues were shut down. Since its inception in 1875, the Kentucky Derby has prospered on this track garnering many raves from jockeys and equestrian sports lovers from across the globe. Featuring more than 70 luxury suites, the interior of the site is decorated with murals of Kentucky Derby winners thus celebrating the augustness and exclusivity of the sport. A museum, stables and a clubhouse are also a part of the Thoroughbred racetrack's extensive layout.
This aristocratic antebellum estate located in lower Crescent Hill faithfully displays the splendor in which many of its owners lived since its creation in 1855. The mansion was originally built in an Italianate manner, however when the property was transferred in 1909, the new owners reformed the house into a Greek Revival style. It continued to receive renovations over the years until it's final private owner bequeathed it to the Historic Homes Foundation in 1994. The tour includes a walk through the rooms as well as to the magnificently manicured gardens. These include the Arboretum, the Woodland Fern Garden, the Formal Florentine Garden and the Specimen Garden, respectively.
Thomas Jefferson designed this archetypal Federal-style mansion on the sprawling estate of slaveholders John and Lucy Speed. It was built using slave labor sometime between 1815-16 on the site of a former hemp plantation. Abraham Lincoln spent three weeks on the plantation in 1841, while courting Mary Todd. The home still contains period furniture from the early 19th Century, a stone barn, a blacksmith's shop and a museum store. Seven days a week, the staff arranges tours for tourists visiting the grounds and the visitors' center also provides a comprehensive map that is a great guide to the 18-acre estate.
This mansion from 1790 is older than the state of Kentucky itself (it entered the Union in 1792), and it stands as a symbol of American land usurpation against the backdrop of the Northwest Indian War. The 55-acre estate once belonged to William Croghan, slave-owner and businessman, then it passed hands frequently after he sold it in 1878. The Waters family bequeathed it to the Commonwealth as a state treasure in 1964. Today the estate staff conducts tours around the house as well as the property. They last anywhere from 45-minutes to an hour. This property is open all days of the week, with an extended hour during the summer months.