Belknap Neighborhood in eastern Louisville is bounded by Bardstown Road to the East, Strathmoor Manor to the South, Newburg Road to the West and Douglass Boulevard to the North. The community, located in the outer Highlands, has an abundance of historic buildings and landmarks, including the Belknap School, Jonathan Clark’s home, the Zimlich stagecoach stop and the Lakeside Swim Club.
In 1916, two years after the death of William R. Belknap, the civic-minded son of the hardware magnate, residents opened the William R. Belknap School on Sils Ave. in his honor. The neighborhood derived its name from this landmark, which also inspired the Belknap Neighborhood Association logo. The Belknap family donated a piece of land to the growing University of Louisville with hopes of building a new campus. In 1917, the area east of this land was developed as the University Park subdivision, named because it was intended to eventually adjoin the future UofL campus. After a tax measure to underwrite the construction of the new campus was rejected by the voters in 1920, the land that the Belknaps had donated was sold to William F. Randolph for ninety-five thousand dollars. Subsequently he developed the Aberdeen and Tecomah sections of the neighborhood.
After a period of inactivity, the Belknap Neighborhood Association was reorganized in 1992 in response to a controversial property zoning proposal that would have changed the status of the old Bonanza building, formerly a supermarket, to allow liquor sales in a dining establishment. Since that time, the organization has committed itself to beautification projects and the preservation of the residential character of the neighborhood. The Douglass Loop, which serves with Bardstown Road as the commercial hubs of the neighborhood, underwent a major facelift in the late 1990s. The Belknap Neighborhood Association holds a fall festival at the Douglass Loop on the second Saturday in October.
Street names prior to development
- Douglass Blvd. was Kaelin
- Dundee was Zimlich
- Harvard was Diebel
- Yale was Balke
- Overlook was Heintzmann
- Page was May
- University of Louisville property
- Aberdeen and Tecomah Subdivisions
The Belknap Building, formerly the Belknap Elementary School, is on the National Historic Register, it was one of the schools built with the city’s first million dollar bond issue. The school opened in 1916, two years after the death of William R. Belknap. The school closed in 1978. The Belknap family ran Belknap Hardware and were civic minded and generous. They donated a parcel of land to the University of Louisville, intended to be the future campus. When the building bond failed the land was sold to William F. Randolph for $95,000 on April 2, 1923.
The Zimlich brothers, (Michael, Joseph and Robert) bought 80 acres of land for $10,000 from Edward T. Bainbridge on December 28, 1847. The land was adjacent to the Chamberlain’s (descendants of Jonathan Clark). The Zimlich’s stage coach stop, known as the two mile house, still stands at the corner of Douglass Boulevard and Dundee Road (previously Zimlich Lane). There are some buildings on Dundee Road and Woodbourne that were built prior to 1901 when Michael Zimlich sold 24 acres to Victor N. Meddis. Some buildings, like the home of Ann and Paul Coats at 1819 Woodbourne, are believed to have been built around 1830. Since the Starks family owned a 200 acre cotton plantation called Woodbourne, we believe it is possible that some of these homes were part of that plantation. We know that the previous location of the Dundee Tavern was the Miller grocery store in 1915 when St. Paul United Methodist Church began their church in that grocery, and one of our older residents was baptized there. There is a frame house at 1916 Harvard that was moved from Princeton because it didn’t conform to the restrictions on building materials. As in other neighborhoods in the Highlands, the earliest development in Belknap occurred along Bardstown Road, a major toll-road. The first subdivisions were laid out in 1901 when Realtor, Victor N. Meddis recorded both sections of the Zimlich addition on a tract which began at the intersection of Rutherford Avenue and Bardstown Road and extended southward to Overlook Terrace, between Dundee and the alley east of Boulevard Napoleon.
Six years later, John H. Sils platted the Sils Addition on a section of land which once had belonged to Daniel Doup, bounded roughly by Bardstown Road, Dundee Road, Page Avenue and Wrocklage Avenue. Sils Avenue was originally the block long driveway back to the large white frame farm house where Mr. John H. Sils, his wife Mary, and three sons and a daughter lived on the site which is now occupied by the Belknap Building. Page Avenue was originally named “May” for their daughter, Anna May.
In 1916 the Cherokee Land Company, then headed by president John H. Sale laid out the first section of Cherokee Plaza, a five-block strip of land which lay along both sides of Boulevard Napoleon between Rutherford and Overlook Terrace. Two years later the same firm, now headed by Fred J. Drupler, platted an additional block to the south of Overlook Terrace. This area is part of the original Zimlich purchase of 1847.
The last subdivision in Belknap before the United States joined World War I was the first section of University Park laid out in 1917 on a tract immediately to the west of Cherokee Plaza, and bordered on the north by Rutherford Avenue, on the west by Sewanee, and on the south by Harvard Drive. Unlike most other local subdivisions, University Park was developed by an out-of-town firm, International Realty Associates of St. Louis County, Minnesota. This area is also part of the original Zimlich purchase of 1847. University Park was so named because it was intended to adjoin the University of Louisville campus, the land that the Belknap family had donated to U of L.
The street patterns and housing styles in these early Belknap subdivisions are quite similar to those in parts of the adjacent Deer Park and Highlands-Douglass neighborhoods. Each of the half-dozen subdivisions was laid out on a traditional gridiron. However, the physical relationship between the individual tracts is highly irregular, with Dundee Road forming a link between the Sils addition on the east and Zimlich addition, Cherokee Plaza, and University Park on the west. The residences along Rutherford Avenue, Princeton Drive, and Harvard Drive between Sewanee on the west and Bardstown Road and Dundee Road on the east consist of a mixture of large, closely placed historical revival structures and bungalows similar to those along Alfresco Place and the north side of Rutherford in Deer Park. Further to the south along Boulevard Napoleon, historical revival homes are more modest, consisting primarily of smaller bungalows, frame houses, and a few older Victorian dwellings with a minimum of ornamentation.
After World War I, the gridiron was abandoned entirely, while some form of historical revival style became virtually the only acceptable form of architectural expression in Belknap. Not until after World War II, with the advent of the contemporary ranch and split level styles, did an occasional builder challenge the hegemony of the historical revival mode. Primarily responsible for the abandonment of the gridiron was William F. Randolph, who earlier had developed the Lauderdale subdivisions back-to-nature movement, along with Wakefield-Davis Realty Company and its successor firms, who platted eight sections of the Aberdeen and Tecomah subdivisions between Rutherford Avenue on the north and Dundee Road on the south. Not only did Randolph’s developments incorporate winding, curvilinear streets which followed scenic natural contours, many of the streets were given Arcadian names such as Valley Vista, Forest Hill Road and Sylvan Way. Mark Wakefield, builder for William F. Randolph built his home at 2324 Saratoga Drive. Although lots were sold, no home could be built in these subdivisions until the plans were approved by Mr. Randolph. Wakefield-Davis built a home for the Webers’ at 2348 Saratoga at the same time he was building his personal home. Later he built a copy of the Weber house for their daughter and her husband across the street. In 1928 the McPhersons bought a furnished model home at 2359 Saratoga. Stratton Hammond built homes on Woodfill Way, Fleming Road, Valley Vista and Trevilian Way.
Other developers quickly followed Randolph’s lead. When International Realty Associates added a second section of University Park between Harvard Drive and Trevilian Way in 1923, Yale Drive and Overlook Terrace were laid out with sweeping curves. Typical perhaps of this new type of subdivision was Lakeside, platted in 1923, by W. L. Wheeler’s Auction Company and designed by Olmstead Brothers, the successor firm to the renowned Frederick Law Olmstead, Sr., of Brookline, Massachusetts. Bordered approximately by Bardstown Road, Sil’s Addition, Woodbourne Avenue, and the city of Strathmoor Manor, Lakeside was described at the time it was platted as being “so arranged and planned that it will be one of the show places of the city”. Among the subdivision’s amenities described in the journal Civic Opinion, was a three-acre lake which provided opportunities for swimming, canoeing, and other recreational activities; two main drives, Trevilian Way and Lakeside Drive, each one 60 feet wide, which formed boulevards 120 feet wide when combined with 30 feet building setback lines; deed restrictions which confined business activities to a few lots on Bardstown Road; and the availability of city water, gas, and electricity. Summing up, the announcement suggested that upon completion of Lakeside Drive, “There will be few short drives in the city which will offer better roads, better views, and more enjoyable surroundings.”
On Bardstown Road between Eastview and Lowell is a cemetery where members of the Doup and Kaelin families are buried. Daniel Doups’ home and brandy distillery were located near a spring close to the lake. When the Kaelins’ owned the farm the stone portion of the house located at 2147 Lakeside Drive was the spring house and the lake was a quarry. Stone from this quarry was used to build roads. When this land was sold for development, two houses were located on the property. One still exists on Eastview overlooking the lake and the other on Bardstown Road was razed for the construction of the Walgreen Drug Store. A portion of the neighborhood, including a few houses on Saratoga and all the neighborhood to the south of Trevilian Way, were annexed into the city in 1958.
In the 1970’s all the homes on Trough Springs, except one, were built. The home at the end of the street was built about 1784. This 1,000 acre plot was one of the original land grants from Patrick Henry to the men who fought in the French and Indian war. It was purchased in 1801 by Jonathan Clark for 200 pounds or about one dollar an acre. This was General Clark’s summer home, the winter home was in the historic Old Fort Nelson, overlooking the Ohio River, on Main Street in the new and growing city of Louisville. The presence of a strong, splendid spring no doubt determined the location of the dwelling and also gave the place the name for which it was known for generations, “The Trough Spring Farm.” As the home of General Clark, it became the seat of genuine Kentucky hospitality, and many distinguished visitors from Virginia and elsewhere were guests in what must have become one of the earliest homes of its kind in the county. The great naturalist, John James Audubon, became a warm personal friend and often spent many weeks there, while pursuing his studies amid the great virgin forests of the vicinity. Mr. Temple Bodley, a great grandson of General Clark, recalled the story of how, very soon after Audubon’s marriage, he and his bride were visiting there and he went off on one of his trips of exploration; the days lengthened into weeks, and the weeks into months. When he returned safely, doubtless bringing many trophies with him, he found them in mourning. Another well founded tradition is that Dolly Madison was also a guest in this, the Clark’s summer home.
We who live here in the Belknap Neighborhood love the small town feel of the neighborhood. We have homes for every walk of life. We have many styles and sizes of homes.
See George H. Yater, Two Hundred Years at the Falls of the Ohio (Louisville1987); Louisville Survey: East Report (Louisville 1980). Consisting of Maps, deeds and personal interviews.
HISTORIC BELKNAP NEIGHBORHOOD WALKING TOUR
- 1832 Overlook Terrace – Warheim Park – A Community- owned Park and Protected Green Space.
- 1840 Trough Springs - Jonathan Clark’s Summer Home.
- 2700 Bardstown Road - Doup Family Cemetery established In 1812 - Sallie & George are buried here.
- 2147 Lakeside Drive - once a Spring House, now a residence.
- 2010 Trevilian Way - Lake Side Swim Club – a year round member-based club established in 1924 – once a quarry.
- 1810 Sils Ave - Belknap School 1916-1978 – now condo’s.
- Douglass Loop - In 1908 city bought easement for trolley turnaround from Eiler family for $1.00.
- 2200 Dundee Rd. – “Two Mile House” Stage coach stop - Zimlich sold land for commercial development in 1901 - Zimlich Lane became Dundee Rd. when it became part of the city.
Street names changed as land use changed from farm land to residential – in 1917 when the University of Louisville still had plans to build – University Park Subdivision was developed
- Kaelin became Douglass Blvd.
- Diebel became Harvard
- Balke became Yale
- Heintzmann became Overlook
- May became Page
- Lovers Ln. became Lakeside
There are many styles of homes in the Belknap Neighborhood, the different styles represent more than a century of development - take a tour and find these styles
- Builders Bungalow
- Arts & Craft
- California Bungalow
- Dutch Colonial
- English Manor
- Cape Cod
- Multi level
Stratton Hammond built homes in the neighborhood in the 1930s. – see if you can identify his earliest designs.
About our association
Belknap Neighborhood Association, Inc.
Copies of the approved Belknap Neighborhood Plan are available for download as Adobe pdfs:
BNA meetings are open to anyone and held the second Wednesday of each month.
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Highlands Kroger, 2nd Floor Meeting Room, 2440 Bardstown Road
You can help keep Belknap one of the most walkable, friendly and uniquely beautiful neighborhoods in Louisville - please join us as member today!
Belknap is a fantastic place to live and own a home, thanks to the ongoing engagement of neighbors like you – serving as your Belknap Neighborhood Association (BNA) leaders, members and volunteers. By becoming a member, you’ll play a vital role in helping our strong community stewardship continue in the future.
Your $20 membership will help the BNA serve the community by:
Working with community leaders
- Working side-by-side with our metro council member to ensure progress reflects the wishes of the neighborhood residents
- Monitoring safety with regular crime reports by Louisville Metro Police
Promoting smart development
- Alerting members of proposed plans that may alter the fabric of our neighborhood
- Providing neighbors with a forum to voice their vision for the area’s future growth
Bringing neighbors together
- Organizing events like the Belknap Fall Festival, neighborhood block parties, volunteer opportunities and association meetings
Hope to see you in the neighborhood soon! Be sure to join our page on Facebook: Belknap Neighborhood and invite your neighbors and friends to become a member too!