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A brief history of Victorian mansions in Old Louisville

These magnificent homes make you feel like royalty.

A red brick mansion sits behind a luscious green yard and garden.

Most of Old Louisville’s mansions were built around the turn of the 20th century.

Photo by Louisville Tourism

It’s an interesting fact that many Louisvillians know: Old Louisville is home to the largest contiguous collection of Victorian mansions in the United States. It’s also the third-largest Historic Preservation District in the country.

The neighborhood is filled almost entirely with Victorian-era mansions, ~1,400 in total, covering ~40 city blocks — which includes St. James + Belgravia Courts, Central Park, and the area between Brook and 7th Streets.

Bonus: You can take several guided walking tours of the area, including one that examines the spooky side of the neighborhood.

Victorian homes in the Southern Extension

The name “Old Louisville” makes a lot of sense now, but what about when the area was new? Back when Derby City’s first suburb was being developed, it was known as the Southern Extension.

Rapid growth in the area took place in the second-half of the 19th century, spurred by the Southern Exposition held nearby from 1883 to 1887. That time coincides with a rise in popularity of Victorian-style homes, so-named because they originated in Great Britain during the reign of Queen Victoria.

A woman walks along a narrow path beneath brick mansions. A gas lamp lights her way, and she's surrounded by trees and greenery.

Belgravia Court is one of several cottage courts in Old Louisville that are lined with Victorian mansions.

Photo by Louisville Tourism

How to spot a Victorian

So what makes a Victorian home, well, Victorian? Here are a few things to look for:

  • Towers, turrets, and dormers — a Victorian roof is more than just shingles.
  • Gabled tops and ends on the roof
  • Running trim — molding with a tapered, symmetrical shape commonly used to fancy up porches, doors, and windows.
  • High ceilings
  • Walls with irregular shapes
  • Stained glass windows
  • Decorative woodwork

On the market

If this piece has you feeling like you’re ready for the royal treatment, here are a few options currently on the market:

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