Prior to 2003 Jefferson County was a county filled with a big city (Louisville) and many smaller hamlets that surrounded or existed within Louisville. These sub cities were rich and culture and a heritage all their own. Places like St. Matthews and Shively. Many more as well. At one time Jefferson County was made up of 103 cities, towns, and designated places. On January 6, 2003, Louisville became the largest city in nearly three decades to merge its city and county governments, creating a consolidated local government – and producing the nation’s newest “Top 20” city becoming Louisville Metro. These places, now a part of the Louisville Metro, became sub cities, neighborhoods, and bigger designated areas of town. When we came together everything changed, or did it? Many of these places still have an acting police force and much of the culture and heritage still exists. Let’s take a look at the history of two of these places.
St. Matthews is still considered by most a suburb of Louisville. Separately incorporated in 2003, St. Matthews is a 4th class city and is actually the 20th largest city in the state even though it is incorporated as a part of Louisville Metro. Home to Mall St. Matthews and Oxmoor Center, St. Matthews is a mecca for shopping in Louisville. The area known as St. Matthews was first settled in 1779 by Col. James John Floyd. He purchased 2000 acres and brought his family to live there. They built cabins and a stockade known as Floyd’s Station. During the 19th Century the area was filled with plantations and called, “The Garden of the State”. By 1840 the area was known as Gilman’s Point, named after a local tavern owner, Daniel Gilman. In 1850, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church was completed giving way to the use of the name of St. Matthews. It became official in 1851 when the newly opened post office adopted the name.
Shively is a 3rd class city within Louisville Metro. Settled around Dixie highway and the US 60 junction, Shively has been in existence for quite some time. In 1778, following the settlement of Louisville, farms began to spread out across the countryside. A man named Christian Shively opened a mill and tavern on his 1000 acres of land near Mill Creek. Later this area became known as the Shively precinct. A stagecoach stop was opened 1831 and in 187 the Elizabethtown and Paducah Railroad arrived bringing much business to the area. In 1904 a streetcar line was even extended to the area. Eight whiskey distilleries opened nearby after the end of Prohibition. When Louisville began an attempt to annex and tax them during the Great Depression, they talked the residents of Shively into incorporating separately (finalized May 23, 1938) and annexing their district instead. Their $20-million revenue stream left the small city well funded, despite its becoming the state’s fastest-growing city during the ’50s as white flight and suburbanization reached Louisville. The community was a sunset town into the ’60s: when activists Carl and Anne Braden bought a house and flipped it to a black family in 1954, the attacks upon their home – including shootings and a bomb exploded under their daughter’s bedroom – became national headlines. No one was harmed and no one was ever convicted of the crime, but few other blacks followed. Things like this event and others earned Shively the reputation as “Lively Shively”. The area’s fortunes have since improved somewhat, with various public works projects occurring and some businesses moving to the area.
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Rick Hogue REALTOR, CDPE, Eco-Broker
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