This article appeared in the September 2010 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.
In 1949, Louisville adopted a flag ornamented with 13 silver stars, a nod to America’s first 13 colonies, and three gold fleurs-de-lis, to honor the city’s French heritage. Fifty-four years later, when Louisville and Jefferson County governments merged, the new Louisville Metro, as it became known, issued a flag with a blue background and a design resembling the county seal. Quirky fact: The North American Vexillological Association — which, you know, studies flags — ranked the old one as one of the country’s top 10 city flags. The current banner? Not so much. Because it’s more detailed and includes words, it fits the association’s guidelines on how a flag should not look.
Now there’s a movement to bring the old one back.
The effort began in 2007. Charlie Farnsley, a financial planner and grandson of former Louisville Mayor Charles Farnsley, saw South Carolina flag stickers (crescent moon above a palmetto tree) on cars and wanted to create a similar, simple symbol of pride for Louisville. “I figured I’d do what South Carolina did, and I went and found the original Louisville flag,” he says. “We thought, if enough people started putting our stickers on their cars the city might bring back the old flag.”
His friends liked the stickers so much that Farnsley formed a small online company, Brand Louisville, to sell them, plus T-shirts and beer cozies emblazoned with the old flag. Justin Taylor, Farnsley’s friend and co-worker, recently joined Brand Louisville with a new plan to market the company’s products and improve the website (brandlouisville.com). He has also arranged a meeting with a representative from the mayor’s office, beginning the official campaign to change the flag. “It used to be like, ‘Hey, I must know that guy; he’s got one of those stickers on his car,’” Taylor says. “Now I’m starting to see them on cars I don’t know.”
Photo: Louisville Magazine