Louisville Uncovered presents: The Heigold House, mystery behind the facade on River Road

The Heigold House was built by immigrant stonemason Christopher Heigold, and stands at the intersection of River Road and Frankfort Avenue, watch the history around it on Louisville Uncovered ! 


Photo courtesy broken sidewalk.com


The Heigold House
The Heigold House

“The Point” was a thriving 19th century neighborhood east of Downtown Louisville and opposite Towhead Island along the Ohio River. It was located north of the present day Butchertown area.

Starting in the 1840s it was home to many upper income residents who had moved from New Orleans, giving the area the nickname “the Frenchmen’s Row”.

They built many mansion houses in the area, the best known of which was the Heigold House (completed in 1853).

It was built by German immigrant and stonemason, Christian Heigold. And he used many American icons to decorate the facade, honoring the US for the opportunity given to immigrants like himself.

15th President of the US, James Buchanan
15th President of the US, James Buchanan

“Hail to Buchanan, now and forever”
The Heigold facade has the only known standing monuments to the

15th President of the United States, James Buchanan.  Buchanan, the 15th (1857-1861), served immediately prior to the American Civil War. He remains the only President to be elected from Pennsylvania, he is described as;

“Tall, stately, stiffly formal”,  in the high stock he wore around his jowls, James Buchanan was the only President who never married.

Bust of 15th POTUS James Buchanan
Bust of 15th POTUS James Buchanan

In 1854 many houses were demolished when Beargrass Creek was rerouted from its original outflow near 4th St. in downtown Louisville to its current location through the area. Many more houses were torn down after the great Ohio River flood of 1937.

It was once the site of The Louisville Municipal Yacht Basin (later Municipal Boat Harbor) built in 1936.

Today,  the only remaining structures are the decorated front facade of the Heigold House and Padgett House, both listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The city bought the house in 1953 to expand a dump. Louisville Mayor Charles Farnsley ensured that the facade was saved and in 1955 had it moved to its current location at what was then Thruston Park, across from Towhead Island.

The facade of the Heigold House was moved from its Fulton Street location to make room for the massive River Park Place condominium project


Moving the 70,000 pound Heigold Facade
Moving the 70,000 pound Heigold Facade

   How do you move a facade?
Edwards Moving & Rigging of Simpsonville were hired to move the 70,000-pound structure that is 26 feet high and 35 feet wide.  The facade’s foundation has been dug out and the structure braced.

A hydraulic jack raised the facade five feet so large beams could be slipped through its lower foundation and four self-propelled dollies put under it.

“It’s like putting four little remote-control cars under each corner” of the structure, Edwards said.

The dollies then slowly moved the structure several hundred yards to a nearby Waterfront Park parking lot to await transfer to Frankfort Avenue.

The Heigold facade was finally moved to a roundabout on Frankfort Avenue near River Road, while the fate of the historic Padgett House remains uncertain.