My life involves a lot of pinkies in high places. Not to brag or anything, but my current living situation affords me many a smug smile of pleasure as I casually lounge on my wrought iron balcony and/or wave to Ashley Judd’s father (he’s kind of my next door neighbor; we’re cool). We have a weekly lawn service; we have timed gaslight lamps; we have amazing amounts of good karma considering how unbelievably poor we actually happen to be. My young family is just plain gosh darn lucky to live in the likes of Old Louisville’s hippest borough – surrounded by nice, old rich people in a small, quiet oasis of mature trees and mellow fields of (highly-manicured) grass. The neighborhood is beautiful, quirky and bursting with so much charm that Norman Rockwell would be shamed (seriously, timed gaslight lamps). But while we’re busy making memories with our 13 foot ceilings and chowing down at some truly slammin’ neighborhood barbeques (who brings pear tarts, Cornish bbq hen and bison ribs to a block party? My neighbors), our much-adored streets have their own history to impart.
Before “Old Louisville” was so “Old”, downtown’s impressive collection of Victorians, Edwardians and other -ians was a busy, modern neighborhood for the city’s affluent merchants, movers and shakers during the 19th and early 20th centuries. And it was during such a prime time in the community’s history that a young writer would make note of her girlhood memories as she came of age in St. James Court. Join Jennie Cole, associate curator of Special Collections at The Filson, as she shares the diaries of Louisville Times columnist Melville Otter Briney this upcoming Friday, July 6th, at noon.
The only child to prominent parents, the young Melville Otter spent her childhood in the 1910s amongst the literary and political elite inhabitants of St. James Court. While she would later go on to pen a weekly editorial called “Old Louisville” for the Louisville Times and become a celebrated local author, Otter’s teenage memories – a chronicle spanning 1912 to 1916 – offer a precious glimpse into the day to day happenings of Old Louisville in its heyday. Using the memory books, as well as a collection of historical photographs, Jennie Cole will deconstruct Otter’s journals and discuss her family history, her education and her career as a journalist and author.
Drift back in time for your lunch hour and see Old Louisville through the eyes of a true “Old Louisvillian”; we'll be close by enjoying our wainscoting.
Photo: Courtesy of Old Louisville website www.oldlouisville.com