When you head to Butchertown, you’re visiting one of Louisville’s most historic + thriving communities. Just east of downtown, the neighborhood has grown since our city’s early days, so we wanted to check in on its cultural renaissiance. If you haven’t explored in a while, it might be time to rediscover why so many people — maybe even you — love to call it home.
Need to know
For the past decade, the 50-acre neighborhood — weaved together as a preservation district + thriving industry hub — has seen an arts and cultural rebirth.
Thanks to the new Lynn Family Stadium, the city’s first brandy distiller Copper & Kings, and the Waterfront Botanical Gardens, the neighborhood has quickly become a valuable piece of the downtown development.
It’s home to 10+ eateries and bars, one of the nation’s best skate parks, and quirky stores.
Butchertown is also within a 30-minute walk of other cultural epicenters like NuLu, Phoenix Hill, Clifton, and downtown.
The Early Days
As you might have guessed, Butchertown is named after the butchers that dominated the area in the 19th century. Bordering the Ohio River, the neighborhood was more than ideal for the trade because of four features:
- Butchering was banned in the city center
- First pick of livestock arriving along the Shelby Turnpike
- Beargrass Creek provided convenient disposal of waste
- Eager buyers awaited fresh meat throughout the city
In 1827, the neighborhood was annexed and by 1869 one of the most famous Butchertown landmarks was complete. The Bourbon Stockyards on Story Avenue — which began as a hotel for farmers called Bourbon House — increased traffic into the area thanks to its close proximity to the Louisville, Cincinnati, and Lexington railway.
The burgeoning meat business allowed other industries to flourish, too — like cooperages, Louisville’s largest woolen mill, breweries, tanneries + candle and soap makers — making the neighborhood a thriving industrial area.
However, at the turn of the 20th century and the advent of the car, most of Butchertown’s businesses closed.
Today, only one meat packer remains: JBS Foods — commonly called the Swift plant.
Running low on time? A trip to Butchertown isn’t complete without stopping for a bourbon drink at The Whirling Tiger, a mid-century-style bar and music venue. Also, be sure to factor in time to try TEN20 Craft Brewery for a local pint + MozzaPi pizza. You’ll thank us later.
Luckily meat isn’t the only thing in Butchertown anymore — the community is full of small businesses you won’t find in any other part of Louisville.
- Located in a former 1800s leather tanning operation, Butchertown Market is home to three local shops — Work the Metal, Moss Hill Bath & Body, and Bourbon Barrel Foods.
- Shop for high-end, handcrafted hats + fascinators from local Master Milliner Jenny Pfanenstiel at Formé Millinery Hat Shop — you’re still in Derby City after all.
Luxury is the name of the game at shopPAIRE — which carries everything from tea to candles and clothing.
Eat + drink
From award-winning chicken to fried bologna sandwiches, Butchertown’s many eateries are a reflection of its eccentric vibes.
- Often on a wait without a reservation, Chik’n & Mi is known for its Asian fried chicken and ramen — available for dinner and brunch.
- If you’re looking for a place with a little more grit, Big Al’s Beertitaville is your stop for fried bologna sandwiches and buckets of beer + it has a large outdoor patio. It’s where the locals go to watch the big game.
- Pizza Lupo was voted the best pizza crust in town for its Neapolitan-style sourdough-based pies.
- Feeling tropical? South Seas specializes in classic tiki drinks, Hawaiian-style brunch served daily + tortas and tacos.
There’s no shortage of things to do in this historic neighborhood. In fact, many of the must-dos highlight the area’s heritage.
- All eight original wooden bowling lanes are still operating at Vernon Lanes + check its events schedule for live music on the weekends.
- Butchertown wasn’t just home to butchers, Thomas Edison once resided here, too — book a tour at the Thomas Edison House.
- The city’s first brandy distillery, Copper & Kings, is located in the heart of the neighborhood — and it offers daily tours + has a rooftop bar and restaurant with must-see views of the city.
Arts + culture
Small businesses and eateries aren’t the only things thriving in Butchertown. Murals, galleries, festivals, and more make for a vibrant creative community.
- If you’re visiting in the summer, the annual Butchertown Art Fair is a must-do on historic Franklin Avenue — it’s like stepping back in time.
- The 5,000-sqft Butchertown Neighborhood Collaborative Mural — which cost $2,300 to create — loosely chronicles the history of the neighborhood from the flood of 1937 to the present day.
- PYRO Gallery is a cooperative of 19 artists + you can visit Fri.-Sat., 12-6 p.m. and 1-4 p.m. on Sundays.
Where to live
If you’re sold + looking to buy a home in the area, here are some housing options currently on the market:
- 904 E. Washington St. | 3 BD, 2 BA | $494,000 | This 1,535-sqft Queen Anne-style house has a mix of renovated past — like the original chandeliers — with modern amenities + a charming entertainment backyard patio.
- 1312 E. Washington St. | 3 BD, 2 BA | 529,900 | Currently a duplex, this 2,751-sqft house could become a 3-4 bedroom home + it features five fireplaces, hardwood floors, and a sweeping staircase.