Monday, July 14, 2014

Hearts Homes & History: 1023 Ash Street

For those of you who may not be familiar with our Hearts Homes and History feature, the genesis goes something like this:

About two years ago during a feverish brainstorming session, the SACC Housing Committee was looking for ways to promote community pride and to recognize the rich history our neighborhood.  One of the committee members suggested doing a feature on some of eye catching houses in the neighborhood and interviewing their owners.  Another suggested doing features on histories of the houses their and the families who lived there before. Then someone had a Eureka! moment and suggested we combine the two into one article.    That got us to “Homes and History” and then someone else suggested adding “Heart” into mix because, well, that is, according to the proverb, where home is.   And rightly so, because a house without a heart is not a home.  Since that time we’ve featured several neighbors in our newsletter.  This year we've moved to the blog where we have all this (is it really infinite?) cyberspace to kick around in.  In the past we only ran Hearts Homes and History features in the summer, but we decided that there are so many worthy candidates that we should just make it a year round feature.  Look for other articles to appear here throughout the year. 

On to the main feature…

We are very proud to announce that the first Hearts Homes & History Winner of 2014 is Michael and Rebecca Lovelace of 1023 Ash Street. Their house, which was extensively renovated in 2012,  was selected because of the wonderful landscaping the beautiful wooden front porch and the fan-shaped scroll work on the gable (a typical feature of shotgun houses built at the beginning of the century).   

After Renovations: The Current Home

Before Renovations

Michael is from upstate New York and Rebecca is from New Orleans.  They met in college and came to Louisville from Phoenix Arizona when Michael was accepted into the U of L Medical School.  Rebecca works for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and does most of her work via the computer but travels back to New Orleans occasionally for work and to visit friends and family.    They moved to Schnitzelburg about 9 months ago.  Michael’s hobbies include golfing, running and gardening.  In fact, he has two raised beds in his backyard full of sprawling squash, zucchini, and tomato plants.  Rebecca enjoys cooking and likes to travel. 

Michael's raised beds in their backyard.

The Lovelaces said they picked Schnitzelburg over other Louisville neighborhoods because the housing was very good value for the price and the houses here were cozy – just the right size for a couple.  They also said that location was a big plus.  Being 10 minutes from the airport makes traveling easy and being close to downtown and U of L cuts down on Michael’s travel time to classes. Rebecca added, “All these shot gun houses reminded me of New Orleans, so I feel very at home.”

The Lovelaces on their porch.
When asked what they liked most about living in Schnitzelburg they said the biggest asset was the sense of community – the neighborhood restaurants, bars, coffee shops, Emerson Garden.  “We’ve lived in a lot of different neighborhoods in different states and this is the most connected place we’ve ever lived in.  There’s always lots of stuff going on - the play in the park, the Blues Festival, the spring and fall walk, the Dainty Contest, and the neighborhood association has its own Facebook page which makes it easy to keep up with what’s going on.   It’s a very active neighborhood.  And there’s a lot of renovation going on.”  They also liked the fact that, despite being close to downtown, the streets are quiet here. 

In terms of improvements, Rebecca said a dog park would be a nice addition.  “It’s a good way to get out and meet your neighbors.”  Mike, who runs regularly, suggested designating a running route.  This would be a route that has relatively light traffic that would be more conducive to running than, say, some of the heavier traveled streets.  “This would be helpful, especially to those new to the neighborhood,” he noted. 

Michael and Rebecca’s house was built in 1892.  Construction of this block of Ash began in 1891. At this point in time, only lower Ash between Shelby and McHenry and a scattering of houses in the next block from McHenry to Merry Street (now Hoertz) had been developed.   The first resident in the newly built cottage was F. Xavier Koebel.  Xavier was born in 1819 in Mothern, Alsace, France. 

In 1888, Xavier and wife Madeline sailed to the U.S. aboard the ship, La Bretagne, along with Wendel, Aloise, Catherine and Joseph Koebel.  Of the 875 passengers aboard the La Bretagne sailing from Le Havre, 735 passengers were indicated to be "immigrants" on the ship's roster.  A history mystery within this story is the disappearance of Xavier's wife, Madeline Schiehl Koebel. Xavier and Madeline were 68 years old at the time they embarked for the U.S. It is not known if Madeline died during or soon after the voyage, or if she simply chose for one reason or another not to accompany Xavier to Louisville upon arrival. Her place of burial is unknown. The Koebel family plot can be found at St. Michael's cemetery. Xavier died in Louisville in 1893. His gravestone is inscribed with the word "Vater".

Congratulations, Michael and Rebecca! We hope to see you out and about at some upcoming events in the ‘Burg.  Stay tuned for next month’s Hearts Homes and History winner. And don’t forget, if you are out a on a summer stroll and see a house that you would like to nominate for an upcoming Hearts Homes and History feature send us the address & and few lines about what you like about it to

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