Henderson County, Kentucky


L. W. COLEMAN, editor of the Henderson Reporter wrote a series of articles in 1880 titled "Henderson and Her Improvements in the Last Ten Years".

The first of the three articles was published February 26th and it describes the major governmental and commercial buildings erected here in the 1870s. The second article was published March 4th and lists the residences that had been built during the decade. The last article, published March 11th, adds up the figures and tries to give an overview of what it all meant.

Coleman noted his figures showed there were 63 governmental and commercial buildings erected in the 1870s, at a cost of $752,500 while there were 376 residences built at a cost of just under $470,000.

Some of the significant structures built were:

129 N. Main Street, currently occupied by Homecrafters. The building was erected in 1873 by LYNE and ELAM. The Knights Templar use to meet on the top floor.

The Italianate building across Main Street now housing WILKERSON'S Shoes also was built in 1873 as KLEYMEYER'S block. For about 50 years it housed PARGNY'S Confectionery, a Henderson institution.

Originally known as SOAPER'S block at 213 N. Main Street, which currently houses Frank G. SCHMITT Company, was built in 1870.

The building housing POLK & POLK Law Firm at 137 Second Street was also built in 1870 and was originally known as GEIBEL'S block.

Also in 1870, Andy T. CALLENDER built a brick grocery store at 440 N. Green Street that currently houses CASEY'S Pawn Shop.

WOLF'S Tavern was built in 1874 by Henry KLEYMEYER at First and Green Streets, although it was occupied by George WOLF as a bakery and confectionery.

The original portion of what is now the Henderson Hotel at Washington and Adams Streets was erected by Allan T. GILMORE in 1874. GILMORE sold it when he moved to Scotland in the early 1880s. From about 1920 through 1946, the period during which the addition was erected, the building was used as a hospital.

What was so unsettling about COLEMAN'S articles is how many of the described buildings have been razed. His last article pointed out that Henderson citizens were largely unaware of the growth that had taken place in their midst. His comments were sobering when you realized the same words could be used to describe the gradual destruction of Henderson's historic buildings.

"These improvements have grown upon you so gradually, one here and another there, that although the most of them are of a permanent, substantial and atractive order, they have been little talked of and almost unnoticed by you," ..... L. W. Coleman, March 11, 1880

"Substitute the word "LOSSES" for the word "improvements" in the above paragraph and you'll get a very clear picture of what's been happening to Henderson's history." ..... Frank Boyett, February 27, 2000

Reprinted with permission from The Gleaner.

Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2002 HCH&GS