Louisville’s sweet little neighborhood of Indian Hills received some wonderful news this week. First, local girl Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar for Best Actress. And, as if to place icing on the cake, Indian Hills was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the ten best American suburbs in which to live.
People tend to move out to the suburbs for a yard, the quality of the school districts, safety or the ability to buy a bigger house than they can in the city. But some suburbs outshine others. Coldwell Banker Real Estate released its top ten best places to live for suburbanites on Tuesday.
Indian Hills, of course, is now a Fourth Class City, and, while surrounded by Metro Louisville, is technically not a part of Metro government. It is one of the most prosperous suburbs of Louisville, and has been since the mid-20th century. Indian Hills is only 7 miles from downtown Louisville, and boasts rolling hills and manicured estates.
The City of Indian Hills is a community of just under 1,200 homes and 2,900 citizens, and was formed in 1999 as the result of a public referendum held in the contiguous cities of Indian Hills - Cherokee, Indian Hills - Country Club, Robinswood, and Winding Falls.
Back when old John Veech came over from Ireland and started farming his 300 acres back in 1805, it can be assumed that he couldn’t have predicted in his wildest imagination that little Jennifer would garner an Academy Award. By 1872, the Veech farm became known as "Indian Hill Stock Farm," and was for a time one of the largest horse farms in Kentucky. The Georgian-style Veech house still stands at 125 Indian Hills Trail, as does the farm's springhouse at 119 Arrowhead Road.
There are two Indian Hills houses on the National Register of Historic Places: Blankenbaker Station, built in 1916, and Midlands, built in 1913 for a member of the locally prominent Belknap Family.
The Veech family owned much of the land into the 20th century, and in 1911, the family contracted the Frederick Law Olmsted landscaping firm to plan the development of a golf course and subdivision. By 1924, the land had been developed as Louisville Country Club and the initial subdivision, sometimes referred to as Indian Hills-Country Club, was developed mostly from 1927 to 1941 by the Semonin company. Indian Hills incorporated as a city on December 15, 1941.
The Olmsted firm—famous for the design of New York’s (and Louisville’s) Central Park—designed the development plan, which incorporated the design features of the elder Olmsted’s early work. Those features include: “sweeping, curvilinear streets and gently rounded intersections which follow the natural contours of the hilly terrain. Every effort was made to save existing trees and preserve each site’s natural beauty, while suggesting the planting of additional native trees and shrubs to strengthen the romantic character of the property. Expanses of green space were left open, not only for its beauty but to promote a sense of community.” Continuing his respect for native species, Olmsted generally used “sycamores, maples, oaks, American Linden, redbud, and dogwood and shrubs like honeysuckle, mock orange, and barberry.” Their designs were known for the layers of plant material crowned by a canopy of stately trees. Beeches were plentiful on the original estate and in a large part of St. Matthews and Crescent Hill.
So, it comes as no surprise to her loving Louisville fans that Jennifer Lawrence would win this year’s Academy Award for Best Actress. And, it is equally unsurprising to Louisvillians that beautiful Indian Hills would be selected as one of America’s top ten neighborhoods.
City of Indian Hills - Octoberfest 2012