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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Louisville City Hall Pediment

Louisville City Hall Pediment

Perhaps the most achitecturally interesting government building in downtown Louisville, the City Hall was constructed from 1870-73 (it says 1871 along the front.) It was built with Indiana Limestone at a cost of $464,778. while the interior has been completely overhauled a few times, the exterior remains unchanged except for basic renovation.

The architectural style is a blend of Italianate and Second Empire style. The pediment over the main entrance features a relief of the Louisville city seal plus a steam train with the word "Progress" inscribed on it. Atop many of the windows are engravings of livestock heads. The building is three stories tall plus a raised basement. Today, it's primary function is housing the metro council offices and chambers. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

One of the most interesting areas is seen here with the pediment as it depicts a steam train (complete with concrete smoke billowing out of it). Written on the train is the word PROGRESS and again the date on 1871 on the cab. Recently, I got a message from an unexpected place recently that shed some light on the meaning of this logo, the Antique Doorknob Collectors of America!

Dating back to 1861, the official seal of Louisville included an image of a steam train with the word Progress. So, when this building was built a decade later, the doorknob included a design with elements similar to the pediment here. Variants of their logo remained in use until 1910, and about that time, the doorknob was replaced. From there, the doorknob made it's way to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad office building a few blocks away. Fast forward another century when many items in the L&N building went up for sale, and the doorknob collectors got a real conversation piece!

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