Got Two Cents on the Iron Quarter? Edie Bingham Believes Our Future is Enriched by the Past

The Iron Quarter

Thanks for keeping up with my “Iwo Cents” series on this issue. I wil cross post all of these onto my Facebook page listed under Cindy Flanagan Lamb if you would like to remain in the loop.

I am honored to stand beside Edie Bingham and Martina Kunnecke as they stand up for the future of of our city. In this particular mode, it is raising a voice for the row of buildings who cannot speak for themselves.  I believe that our rich history is stronger than the block of abandoned and weakened structures and should be a part of the new designs.

Money talks and history teaches. Let’s do both. If there is a way to respect the day and not the dollar, Louisville could be very proud of what the buyers, developers, preservationists and merchants can accomplish with this piece of real estate.

I stand with these women and many other citizens who desire accessibility to the planning and decisions of our historic Main Street “Whiskey Row” and would hope that accountability on the part of our elected leaders and motivated entrepreneurs will lead this project kn0wn as the Iron Quarter in a successful and creative direction.

Introducing her friend and fellow advocate for preservation, Ms. Edie Bingham, is Martina Kunnecke, President of Neighborhood Planning and Preservation, Inc. (NPP) I guess this will be a collective “Four Cents on the Iron Quarter.”

“Edie Bingham has long demonstrated her commitment to development in this community, which enhances our sense of place and quality of life. We can all learn lessons from folks like Edie. Citizens paying attention and working together can make a difference. Remember, it was her Citizen’s Metropolitan Planning Council (CMPC) that got the Cochran Tunnels built—preserving one of the city’s most beautiful park expanses. Similarly, the now defunct Preservation Alliance took the community to a new level in terms of Landmarks ordinances and creating the West Main Street District. Both organizations have been gone for some time but we need to invoke their spirit and get the public back to the table.

“Louisville’s good bones have been battered and neglected but because of the efforts of the Edie Binghams in our midst, there have also been some wonderful victories. We need to be reminded. As for the endangered iron faced structures on Main Street, Edie has said, ‘these buildings matter’. I wholeheartedly agree; however, what matters more is a diverse and vocal public making it plain how we want this place we call home to look and feel. This Whiskey Row situation is a wake up call: Passive citizenship is not acceptable. Thanks, Edie for continuing to show up and speaking your mind.”

Here’s Ms. Edie Bingham:

“What is being missed in all of this is the truly unique historical connection between the river and these buildings.

“It’s not just the buildings, preserving the memory of late 19th century commercial business, a time just after the Civil War is of national significance. It was the greatest period of wealth for our community. The buildings were all part of the whiskey business. The river and the railroad were all in place for that industry.

“Of course, Kentucky was neutral in the war but both armies marched through the state. The river was so important during that time and was kept open.

“People need to remember that there are almost no other buildings of this type construction left in the United States, and Louisville’s West Main Street, including the Whiskey Row Block were rated in the top 10 of exciting urban venues by the American Planning Association in 2009.

“There is a very strong connection between the Ohio River and Whiskey Row, delivering barrels of whiskey from boats, rolled up over the cobblestones of our waterfront into the double 10-foot high basements under these structures.  As the C-J trumpets, this area of our city is booming and it is all about the River, whiskey, Arena celebrating a fabulous location of our city. Most of the facades of Whiskey Row can be saved and in most cases large portions of the buildings can be salvaged as well.

“I think there is the possibility for Todd Blue to develop a hotel complex and use some of the facades and structures at the east end of the block.  Especially notable is the facade of the 107-109 building, designed by D.X. Murphy, with its combined use of cast iron and white glazed tiles on the facade centered by a grand arched entrance at street level …foreshadowing the “Chicago Style” seen only now at the Kaufmann-Strauss building saved within Fourth Street Live. These buildings can be brought back just as West Main Street has been revived with great success.

“They deserve our respect and effort to keep these vivid histories alive for the next generations of locals and visitors to our city.

“There are a lot of reasons not to mess this up with a parking lot.”